Marcus McElhenney

Marcus McElhenney Discusses Getting Involved

“Do as much as the rowers and then more.” – Marcus McElhenney

When first becoming a part of a new program (i.e. going to a college team), what should I do to make coaches notice me for things besides my on the water skills and team management abilities? – Justin

With our sport there is always something to do. When you see people doing anything around the boat house, join in. Be as active as possible and always be doing something. This can include things like sweeping the boat bays, rigging boats, organizing the tool boxes, filling gas tanks…you get the idea. When I first joined the National Team I followed around the head cox like a dog and did everything that he did. There is an added benefit of learning a lot as well. Too many coxswains just sit around not doing anything. Or only do as much as the rowers. So do as much as the rowers and then more. Your coach will notice that you have a good work ethic.

“Too many coxswains just sit around not doing anything. Or only do as much as the rowers. Do as much as the rowers and then more. Your coach will notice that you have a good work ethic.” – Marcus McElhenney Click to Tweet

So when you first show up at your new boathouse keep your eyes open for activity. When you see guys doing something, join in. Participate even if your help is not required, it can make the job lighter and faster for the guys doing it. Coaches notice and like efficiency even if they themselves are not. 

After a while you will be able to know what and how things need to be done and you can be the one starting the projects. I never sit still when at the boat house. When I am down there I treat it like work. I have a job to do and I am not going to be caught sitting on my tail when there is something that needs to be done. And as I have already said…there is always something that needs to be done. So treat being down at the boathouse like work.

Additionally, I think it always helps if you can work out with your athletes as much as possible. This shows that you are committed to being a part of the team. Fit and active coxswains are almost universally better received by coaches and athletes. Personally I run with my guys every chance I get. Some of my fellow teammate coxswains also lift weights with the athletes.

The end result of all of this can be two fold. First you make your impression on the coach (and athletes) as a go getter and person willing to work hard. The other is that you end up learning a lot which will improve your abilities. So get out there, get your hands dirty, and get something done!

– Marcus McElhenney

Enjoy reading this? Read the full collection of coxswain tips.

Interested in taking an even deeper look at how national team athletes train and race? Check out The Longest Odds.

Marcus McElhenney

Marcus McElhenney
Marcus McElhenney began coxing in 1997 at Monsignor Bonner High School and started his international coxing career with a silver medal in the M8+ at the 2001 Nation’s Cup. His career highlights include a gold medal in the M8+ from the 2005 World Rowing Championships and a bronze medal in the M8+ from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Longest Odds Inside the Olympic Journey

The Longest Odds

Go behind the scenes of the Olympic Journey with The Longest Odds, a photo-documentary that goes inside the Beijing and London Olympic journey of the US Olympic rowing team. 

This book illustrates what you do not see on television – it’s a raw look at what athletes go through during their years-long journeys much before anything appears on television.

The Longest Odds allows us to see those highs and lows, the conflicts, joy, exhaustion, elation, fear – and most of all, the bonds of friendship being indelibly forged.

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