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Notes: Parents' Pre-Winter Meeting, Nov 5, 2019

We held a meeting on Tuesday night, November 5th for parents of novice rowers to discuss the upcoming Winter Training Program and Spring Racing Season.  Board members and novice team coaches presented the details and answered questions.  Highlights of the meeting are posted below.

The Whitman Crew Mission Statement
Walt Whitman Crew is a competitive co-ed high school rowing club that inspires excellence for all rowers and coxswains and cultivates a team culture of respect, personal commitment, shared achievement, and passion for rowing. 

Novice Program: 
Program currently consists of approximately 40 athletes: roughly 23 men and 17 women. 

Novice Program

  • Pat McClusky, Learn-to-Row Program, Novice Women’s Coach
  • Brian Comey, Men’s Novice Coach

Floating Coach

  • Sierra Keat, Floating Coach

The team is currently considering alternatives to JW for team unis, with the choices to be made during the winter season.  

Winter season practices are on land at Whitman, using the ERGs, after school.  The women are generally the early shift MWF and later on T and Th, with the men the late shift on MWF and early on T and Th.   Any changes to the schedule will be communicated by the coaches directly to the athletes.  Students on the late shift should plan to do homework at school before their practices starts.

Issues for Parents: 
Boating Decisions.  The Coaches discussed  how decisions are made regarding who is placed in which boats, the desire to have the fastest boats possible, and how athletes can reach the fullest potential in the sport.  

There was also discussion regarding how parents can help students with time management and the challenges of fitting rowing into a demanding academic schedule.

Athlete, Parent, and Coaches Expectations – Safe Sport Reminder: 
US Rowing has adopted SafeSport. SafeSport provides training and education on the various forms of misconduct. Coaches are required to complete this training. Board members are in progress to complete the training. Going forward, any volunteer with direct access to athletes will be required to complete this training, such as van drivers and chaperones. There are 3 webinars that will take approximately 1.5 hours in total to complete. Below are log-on instructions: 

Go to and click on the “Sign In” button (upper right corner). 

Register following the prompts and create your account. As this is a new program, you must create a new account. You will not be able to login with your SafeSport credentials from the previous website. 

Select U.S. Rowing as your “Membership” from the drop-down menu.
The following account code should be used for USRowing: J5YZ-UJKV-YMFX-4ENI 

Spring Break Training: 
Spring break training for the novices is at TBC, practices twice a day. 

On-Demand Clothing Orders: 
There is a link on the Whitman Crew website to SquadLocker. Crew families can order Whitman Crew clothing on demand with a link from the team website.  

Volunteer Opportunities: 
Families are required to volunteer 10 hours per season.  Specific needs are listed on the Walt Whitman Crew website under DIBS. 

Tentative Spring Regatta Schedule:

3/14 - Potomac race 
3/21 – St. Andrew’s scrimmage (varsity only) 
3/28 - TBD, either Potomac host race or Occoquan 
4/4 - 4/11 - Spring Break (at TBC, twice a day practices) 
4/18 - Race at TBC, possibly at St. Andrews 
 4/25 or 4/26 - MD States (local) 
5/3 - WMIRA - probably at Occoquan 
 5/14-5/16 – Stotesbury


2019 Learn to Row Fall Bus Schedule to Thompson Boat Center

All Novice Rowers are entitled to transportation, Monday-Friday from Whitman High School to Thompson Boat Center. Additional, Rowers if chosen by lottery as Sophomores, Juniors or Seniors will also be entitled to ride the bus. The schedule for Novice Men and Novice Women breaks down as outlined below:

NOVICE WOMEN 3:30pm - 5pm Leave Whitman 2:45pm
Leave Boathouse 5:15pm
Arrive Whitman 6:00pm

4:45pm- 6:15pm

Leave Whitman 4:00pm
Leave Boathouse 6:30
Arrive Whitman 7:15pm

  • The bus will leave promptly at stated departure team and cannot wait for latecomers.
  • First day on the bus each rider will receive their badge. They must have the badge with them throughout the season.
  • The badge must be presented by the Rower each time they board the bus.
  • Each Rower should review the Rower Code of Conduct & Travel Policy, and adhere to them throughout the season and during practice.



The Learn-to-Row program runs from Monday, September 16th through October 25th. The first two days of the program (9/16 and 9/17) are land-based, and athletes will remain at Walt Whitman High School for those practices.  On Wednesday, September 18th the athletes will take a bus to the Thompson Boat Center to begin on-the-water training. 

Men and Women Novices practice in shifts. The girls will leave Whitman H.S. by bus at 2:45pm and return to Whitman at approximately 5:45pm (traffic dependent) where parents should pick them. The boys will leave Whitman H.S. by bus at 3:45pm and return at approximately 6:45/7pm (traffic dependent). Typically, the athletes with the later shift remain at school and use the opportunity to get homework done before their bus leaves for the boathouse.  Practices run five days a week after school in the late afternoon, and transportation to and from Thompson Boat Center (TBC) is provided as part of your registration fee.  The program culminates with a demonstration regatta on October 26th at the Georgetown waterfront. 

All participants who register are required to have a current physical, complete the SR8 County Pre-Participation form, and take a  short swim test (administered by Whitman Crew according to USRowing criteria) prior to being allowed on the water. 

What should you wear?  The best clothing for rowing is soft, stretchy, breathable, and fairly formfitting. Loose shorts or tops get caught in the boat.   In this warm weather, we suggest making sure you have: 2 pairs of shorts (athletic shorts or tight fitting “trou” that resemble bike shorts without the padding), 2 or more wicking t-shirts, athletic shoes (you will need them for warm-ups and land workouts, but you'll take your shoes off to row,) and 2 pairs of socks for each practice (one that can get wet on the boat, and one to change into after practice.) 

Learn-to-Row: What to Expect

The first two days of the program will be land-based at Whitman High School.  Rowers will use ergometers (ergs) to learn how to coordinate the timing of the motion of their legs, arms and torso.  After that,  rowers will be transported by bus to Thompson Boat Center (TBC), weather-permitting, for practices.  Transportation costs between Whitman and TBC are included in your registration fee.  

WHAT TO WEAR:  No uniform is required for Learn to Row.  Remember that it is often 5-10 degrees cooler on the water.  Plan to have a long sleeve shirt for later in the fall.   

Boys - Spandex bottoms (resembling bike shorts) and a wicking shirt / tank top. Very loose shorts and shirts are apt to get caught on oars and sliding seats.  AVOID COTTON.  Once you are on the water, you will get wet - either splashed while on the boat or when you take the boat out of the water.  Wear running shoes in the event you run during practice.

Girls - Spandex bottoms (resembling bike shorts) and a wicking or spandex shirt / tank top. Very loose shorts and shirts are apt to get caught on oars and sliding seats.  AVOID COTTON.  Once you are on the water, you will get wet - either splashed while on the boat or when you take the boat out of the water.  Wear running shoes in the event you run during practice.

WHAT TO BRING:  Change of clothes, including socks (many rowers choose to wear socks on the boat which will get wet).   Large water bottle.  Sunglasses or a hat (or both).  Snacks for the bus ride back.  You'll be starving.  It is also recommended that you have a portable charger for your phone.  Phones notoriously deplete their batteries by the bus ride home.  The bus can be late upon returning to Whitman and it is helpful to have enough power to alert family about your ETA.

WEATHER: Students will row rain or shine, unless the river is too rough or there is lightening.  Practice is seldom cancelled in the fall.  In the event conditions on the river don't permit rowing, practice will be held at Whitman.  Coaches typically make this decision by lunchtime.  Rowers and those registered with Sports Engine will be notified by email.    

ATTENDANCE:  ALWAYS discuss expected absences with your coach.  Your attendance can impact your teammates.  If there are not enough students to fill a boat, 7 other rowers and a coxswain may be unable to practice.  During the spring season, your attendance may impact coaching decisions at regattas.  Please be respectful of coaches and teammates by communicating early and clearly with your coaches.    

Novice Year Breakdown

Whitman Crew provides a unique and ongoing gateway into the high school experience, providing a place where a Whitman student can immediately become part of something special. Rowers need no prior experience, just a willingness to commit to a team that depends on the effort and contribution of each and every member. Each year we seek young men and women who are up to the unique and sometimes challenging pursuit of becoming a competitive rower or coxswain.

Learn to Row Program
Mid-September to Late October  (Approximately 6 weeks)
Our Novice Program starts in mid-September and runs through late October. For approximately six-weeks we teach participants how to row or become a coxswain in a safe, supportive and instruction-based environment. Our coaches motivate and inspire our novices to accomplish great things. By the end of six weeks we have rowers moving 8-person shells up and down the Potomac. The program concludes with a demonstration regatta in Georgetown. The date and time of the demonstration regatta will be listed on our events calendar and communicated to parents and rowers alike once the date is set.

Our Learn to Row program includes daily transportation to and from Thompson Boat Center (TBC) in Georgetown. The men practice at one time, and the women at another, but details on the exact times for departure and return to and from Whitman will be provided directly to your rower.

Our Learn to Row program leads right into our winter training program (November - March) at Whitman. While winter training involves both novice and varsity rowers, novice rowers largely stick together as they learn to compete and train.  It is an intense time in the crew calendar, but is critical to developing the strength, speed, and endurance needed to remain competitive for the spring rowing season.   

Winter Training
Approximately Late November - Late February
Our winter training and conditioning program takes place six days a week. Monday through Friday, the rowers train after school at Whitman. On Saturdays, weather permitting, they will meet up at a local park for outdoor training.   

The winter training builds strength as well as teamwork.  Rowers and parents alike remark on the physical transformation rowers experience over the course of winter training.  

The requirements for winter training are simple -  A good pair of running shoes, a lot of water and a positive attitude.  Winter's challenging workouts pay dividends in the spring. 

During winter training, we welcome new rowers who did not complete our Learn to Row program in the Fall.  

Spring Break Training
Thompson Boat Center

Our coaches describe Spring Break sessions as among the most crucial to preparing for spring racing season and although not required, participation is strongly advised. Most Novices who intend to compete during racing season will row twice a day for the entire Spring Break week.  Transportation is not provided during spring break. Families typically come together to coordinate carpools. The men and women often row at different times. Co-ed carpools are therefore not advised.  Weather permitting, your Athlete will have two practices most days during Spring Break. 

Whitman Racing Season
March – June
After a long winter, rowers and coaches are eager to get back on the water. Weather permitting, the Whitman Crew Team heads back to the Thompson Boat Center in or around the beginning of March.

Registration is required.  Paperwork must be completed and club fees paid in full in order for athletes to compete in the spring.  While novice rowers who completed the fall program are not required to resubmit their medical physical evaluation, additional forms, including a membership to US Rowing are required.