Coach Pat’s Story

Coach Pat and the BreakAs the oldest of six children in a military family, I have lived in nine states and Germany, adjusting to a new place and people every few years. Each home posed new challenges, from finding the bus stop to making new friends. As the world around me constantly changed, it would have been easy to retreat indoors and invest my energy in portable, consistent activities: me, myself, the computer, and I. Luckily, my family had a knack for seeing the world through sports and passed this vision on to me.

Spacious fields were for playing soccer, frozen ponds were for playing hockey, and tall mountains were for skiing, especially in the Alps. Playing three sports in high school forced me to focus on studying and managing my time so that I could excel academically and athletically. Without sports, I would not have fond memories of my youth, made friends around the world, or done so well in school. Reflecting beyond my childhood, I realize that sports form my backbone, supporting me as an Army Brat, a student, and an engineer. Rowing and CrossFit Boston have given me an opportunity to learn, follow, lead, make friends, stay healthy, be competitive, and excel in life.

Coach Pat at HOCRAt the University of Vermont rowing gave me a chance to focus all my athletic knowledge and abilities gained over years of competition at multiple sports into one. Rowing used my endurance developed in soccer, power and intensity gained from ice hockey, and fluid posture developed in golf. Seeing the various movements of my youth transferred into one graceful motion on the water was an awakening. I fell in love with the calm rage required to make a boat go fast and the adrenaline felt in that first novice race. Crew was a sport of intense power and skill that tested me as an individual and as part of a team, like no other sport. Thinking back to those early morning rows with the sun rising over the Green Mountains, the glassy water of the Lamoille River, and the bright fall foliage, there is no sport I’ve enjoyed more. Sitting in an 8 a.m. mechanical engineering class with cold, wet spandex was never a problem knowing that I left it all out on the water with seven other crewmates doing the sport I love.

After graduation I left Vermont, doing what I thought I should do, I became a professional engineer. I enjoyed engineering, but as I moved from Kansas and then onto New Jersey, I just didn’t feel satisfied. I’ve designed aircraft and field artillery, but never gave enough original thought to designing my own career. Sure, I have a Masters of Engineering and great work experience, but the stable track of engineering did not feel as promising as I thought it would. Why? My backbone was missing. I remained athletic in the first few years in the professional world, learning to kitesurf and paraglide. However, the crux of my athletic self was missing. I needed rowing and competition back to allow me to thrive socially and professionally. That’s when I first became a coach for Ridgewood High School Crew and CrossFit Morristown in New Jersey.

Coach Pat Snatch BalanceCrossFit has given me an opportunity to continually learn and develop. Feeding off of different coaches and my own athletic background, I became a rowing coach, intern, and eventually coach at CrossFit Morristown. Teaching various movements like the deadlift, squat, clean and jerk, and snatch has given me fresh perspective on the mechanics of rowing and the many ways the rowing stroke can be portrayed. Dealing with rowers of all different backgrounds and athletic abilities has helped immensely in my coaching delivery and efficiency, but has also fueled my passion to continue coaching and rowing.

Coach Pat and Renegade RowingHaving developed myself at Ridgewood and CrossFit Morristown I realized my love for coaching and decided to take it a step further. I applied to the Institute for Rowing Leadership (IRL) in Boston, an intensive one-year post-graduate coaching education program. My goal is to become an elite level coach and an ambassador for Rowing and Strength Training. My short-term goals are to coach collegiate rowing, continually improve my abilities as a strength and conditioning specialist, develop my knowledge of sports science to help prevent rowing injuries, and create a scalable training method that uses strength training to achieve results in the rowing world.

By committing to professional coaching as a fellow at the IRL, I’ve been able to fill a gap in my experience and development as a rowing leader. Professional competencies I’ve developed by attaining an Advanced Certificate in Rowing Leadership include safety and injury prevention, advanced skill acquisition, growth and development, and organization and administration. I am at a place professionally where I can stop working and start doing what I love.

RR Workshop Coach PatOver the last couple of years I’ve capitalized on my opportunities to further my coaching education and experience, interact with mentors, create events, help grow other gyms and rowing establishments, and launch my own program. I have my US Rowing Level III Certification and I’m a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with the NSCA. I’ve been coaching competitive juniors, adult recreational rowing, college rowers, and athletes competing for CRASH-Bs. Working with mentors from Community Rowing Inc., I put together and now teach a Strength Training Course for coaches in the IRL.

RR CRASH-B Coach PatMy experiences over the last few years have led to the launching of my own Rowing, Fitness, and Strength Training inspired program called Renegade Rowing, which I intend to use to achieve my goal of becoming an ambassador for the sport of rowing and strength training. An elite level coach in my eyes is one that is confident in planning, teaching, coaching, and training athletes of any level to not only row better and win races, but to take initiative in all areas of their life to obtain their goals. As an ambassador for the sport of rowing and strength training I would like to bring both to the masses here in the U.S. and around the world. I would like to be a source for rowing and fitness knowledge and develop new ways to help people reach their goals.

I know that I’ve found a purpose and passion in life through strength training, rowing, and coaching. Whether it’s the leadership and competitive spirit developed from being an Army Brat, the love for sport developed from moving around the world, the hard work required to be a scholar athlete, or the methods needed to portray the rowing stroke to different groups of people, I will draw from all my experiences to become a rowing ambassador and elite level coach.

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