As I continue to fund raise, some interesting thoughts have been shared on the google groups of rec.sport.rowing. One post that came from the dilemma's of funding was posted by Mike Sullivan. You can read some of his thoughts here >. Carl Douglas also comments on this thread
His first post on the subject went a little something like this:
The US elite program is sadly dysfunctional, and the biggest problem is simply money. Masters' Nat'ls are happening in Okla City right now, you'll see old slow farts like me there with millions of dollars in spending money for shiny new shells, top of the line hotels, air travel, fine wining and dining. In the meantime, a year ago I helped a few elite men over the winter with their training in sculling, and they put together in a pair to race at the Speed Orders in Princeton. These guys were Stanford grads with the potential to make a lot of money in real jobs, smart guys, and absolute athletic studs. They had the presence and look of pro athletes that could be making millions on a pro team, or could go out and work in Silicon Valley and make a fortune by the time they turn 30. They scraped together
money from parents to travel, and from working part time (good jobs but part time), and even then
they had to scrounge for a pair to race in at Princeton, I believe it was a 6 year old Wintech from Yale. They got moved four times in a year and a half to uncertain rowing futures, chasing wherever the nat'l program, coach, and other athletes were supposed to train and have found it very difficult to see where their long term path to success is. No I didn't get paid for coaching them for that 4 month period, but I
get offers all the time from Masters' people who want individual lessons, get them ready to go butt-slow over 1k. My response was, "no I don't have time to coach you or any other masters, but would welcome you paying me to coach our US Olympic team candidates". I would take that money and chip it in to their travel anyway, I don't need the money.
If I sound bitter, I am... :^)
The Graves bros trained on their own in Newport the last year. It's possible they got some help from the Newport foundation, I'm not sure, but they won trials, are going to Bled, with very little support from the US rowing community. Bless them but their road was difficult in ways that had nothing to do with simply the training and racing.
Ursula Grobler might be the single best rowing talent in the US, and perhaps the best chance the US has for a gold in rowing outside the women's eight. She's gotten some great help here and there, Rebecca has been doing good, but has been bounced like a pinball, been scrutinized to the Nth degree, criticized, and exploited. If she were making a pile of money like pro athletes, then some of this scrutiny might be warranted, but she's scraping the bottom like every other elite.
The poor ppl at the local club that have to deal with me. A guy told me he had $5k to spend on a new
single. "what should I buy?".
"you should buy a $2500 Maas 27 and give the other $2500 to the US
Rowing Foundation toward the nat'l team effort".
Then I shrug. I suppose he could raise $10k, buy a used Empacher for $5k, and give $5k to NRF. That would be cool. When I coached out of Newport years back, there were just beginning to be some guys who had singles that wanted to keep them in the rather limited one bay boathouse. My rules were
simple. You can have a spot, give us a little money but I'm going to give your boat to use by an athlete who has nat'l team aspirations that cannot afford his own boat. I'll pick the guy, there'll only be one, and these are the hours where he will row it, and he can negotiate with your schedule
for additional hours.
We insured the boat, and my boatman fixed all dings no matter who dunnit.
Most boat owners liked that arrangement and accepted it, Not sure if I'd find many takers these days if I did that again. Sort of a commie act, I guess.
I want to append the rant with the following. I know some masters are offended deeply by my attitude,
clubbers in redwood city see my attitude as 'elitist' and get bothered by some of my advice on boat
purchases, I've seen it here. I should point out that I teach hundreds and hundreds of new scullers, adults and kids to scull at two different clubs. In the past three weeks I've introduced a dozen adults to sculling, treated them with the same respect I treat elites, taught them all the same things, the
exact same approach and discipline to boat handling on and off the water I expect of a competitive elite.
My attitude is peculiar, but is definitely not elitist. I've spent too much time with raw, old, out of shape, unconfident, uncoordinated non-athletes who really want to learn to scull, and learn to scull correctly for me to accept that criticism.