Oct. 13, 2010
SEATTLE - The Washington men's crew team has appointed a total of five new assistants, head coach Michael Callahan announced this week. Joining the UW program are Jessiah Johnson, Mark Weber, Tad McCrea and Carlos Dinares, all of whom will assist the program in a volunteer capacity. Rick Gherst was hired as a paid assistant coach.
Callahan said he felt the new coaches will bring in a wealth of fresh ideas to compliment a high level of technical rowing knowledge. They'll each be responsible for certain aspects of the Washington program, ranging from coaching specific boats in practice to developing and implementing the team's workout goals.
McCrea and Johnson are both former Husky oarsmen, and thereby have the added benefit of helping young rowers fully embrace the team's culture. Johnson, who hails from nearby Mercer Island, recently rowed in the varsity 8+ boat that won a National Championship at the 2009 IRAs, a race marked by the team's spectacular comeback over rival California. Before returning to the UW crew program, where he'll assist freshman coach Luke McGee, Johnson was working as a youth rowing coach for the Mt. Baker Rowing Club.
"It's exciting to be back in the mix," Johnson said. "I missed the atmosphere here. And working with my old coach in Michael Callahan, it's hard to imagine a better situation as an assistant."
McCrea last rowed for UW in 2008. Like Johnson, he'll provide support for McGee with the freshman team. Their hiring keeps in tune with a Washington motto of promoting and hiring from its own ranks.
"Tad was a senior my first year here, he's one of the group of guys that invited me into the shellhouse," McGee said. "He taught me a lot about the program. It's great having him work with the freshman and imparting his knowledge of the history here and what it takes to be a Husky."
Gherst brings East Coast rowing experience to Seattle. The Bellevue native coached at his alma mater (Vermont) before taking on the head men's coaching position at Rhode Island from 2001-06. Later, Gherst was an assistant women's coach at Dartmouth. Weber comes to the Huskies from Cincinnati, where he was a coach for the famed Cincinnati Junior Rowing Club. It's the same club that produced current Husky oarsmen Ambrose Puttmann and Jeffrey Gibbs, both of whom rowed for the undefeated freshman boat in 2009. Prior to coaching at CJRC, Weber rowed at his alma mater, Princeton.
"We like having new ideas here in the boathouse," Callahan said. "It gives us different influences. It's nice to have challenging, intellectual thought about rowing here."
While Dinares is no stranger to the UW program, his hiring as a volunteer assistant gives him more official responsibility. The Spaniard is renowned for his knowledge of rowing technique and developing the physiological capacity of rowers. He's known in the Seattle area as the full-time coach of Ursula Grobler, who is currently the No. 1 lightweight sculler in the world.
"He brings a unique perspective," Callahan said. "We want to be known as a team that resides on the cutting edge of training techniques. We have a nice breadth of ideas with these coaches and it should give great support to our student-athletes."