Oct. 15, 2010
SEATTLE - A pair of Huskies have returned as coaches to Conibear Shellhouse.
Recently, the women's rowing team announced that Kayleigh Mack and Vanessa Tavalero would join the coaching staff in a volunteer capacity. Mack plans to assist the novice team while Tavalero is responsible for helping out the varsity program. Mack finished up her rowing eligibility last year, and never had any designs on being anything other than a coach.
Tavalero won a National Championship during her time with the Huskies from 1997-2000. She also coached at Sacramento State and was most recently an assistant at California-Davis, but this year the university voted to shut down the crew program. When the Aggies disbanded, Tavalero put in a call to women's coach and rowing director Bob Ernst, asking for some guidance in her next move.
She was quickly offered a job.
Both were excellent coaching fits, according to Ernst, because of their capacity to teach and motivate. The fact that they're Huskies is just an added benefit. Ernst is optimistic both will assimilate well back into the program. But he also knows there will be some hurdles.
"The big horizon for them is that they have no idea what the recruiting stuff is all about," Ernst said. "As a student-athlete, you don't know the effort that it takes from the coaching end."
As volunteers, both are able to help out with on-campus recruiting. Ernst said it's the necessary evil budding coaches have to undertake if they want to run major Division-I programs. Recruiting is the lifeblood to any rowing team, and he's tasked his new volunteers with an important duty. But he's more than eager to offer the challenge to Huskies.
"Most of the time, I just say, if this is something you're really interested in, you have to put a lot of other things aside," Ernst said.
While Tavalero has coaching experience in the college ranks, Mack is a relative newbie. The Seattle native spent the summer as a coach at Lake Union Rowing Club before moving over to Conibear Shellhouse. Her role is to coach the walk-on members of the women's team and acclimatize them to collegiate rowing. During a recent practice, Mack went from one rowing ergometer to the next, motivating the young student-athletes to push themselves physically.
Tavalero has the added benefit of working with a coach (Nicole Minett) that she rowed with here at Washington.
"What she brings to our team now is class, skill and extreme diligence," Minett said. "It's exactly what the young women who come from this program need to see in a coach. I think she embodies what Washington rowing is. She came from the program. She's a National Champion."