Boathouse Brand Ambassador Profile – A Day in the Life of a Coxswain
Meet Jesse – one of the main coxswains for Boulder Community Rowing in Colorado, as well as their novice coach. He first heard of Boathouse rowing apparel while rowing for Colorado Junior Crew when he ordered his first Gore-Tex Stevenson. Since then he's accumulated total of three different Stevenson Jackets, one of which was purchased in 2016 at the Head of the Charles Regatta to have autographed by the United States' Women’s 8 gold medalists. We asked Jesse to share a typical day training for fall race season in Colorado, and explain his thoughts on what makes a great rower, the challenges of training on the water in Colorado, and why getting “out of your head and into the boat” is a game changing mentality for rowers.
A Day in the Life of a Coxswain
I start my day like many other rowers in this world. That is, often before the sun is up, and always before the rest of the world is up. I row for a masters team, and that means we all have to be done, and off the water no later than 7am so that the people who need to get to work can do so.
For my case, this means that I have to wake up promptly at four in the morning so that I can have enough time to drive to the reservoir in beautiful Boulder, Colorado, which sits at approximately 5,328 feet above sea level. Six days a week, 10 months out of the year. I am one of the main coxswains, as well as the novice coach for Boulder Community Rowing. We are a masters team comprised of nearly 80 incredible people, ranging in every single skill level of rowing.
The Benefits and the Challenges of Rowing in Colorado
Once we all arrive to practice, we rarely have any time to stand around. We get on the water as quickly as we can. Being in Colorado offers many challenges than say, a coastal state. Not only is it usually pretty cold, but we are also on a reservoir that lacks proper straightaways that many others take for granted – it is a constant starboard turn, whilst also having to deal with many of the unlit buoys that seemingly come out of nowhere.
This time of the year also presents a rare opportunity in that there are no longer any ski boats and their wakes to get in our way. Leaving us with a full reservoir to enjoy, along with the presence of two other big clubs, University of Colorado Crew and Colorado Junior Crew.
A Post-Practice Cup O' Joe
After practice the team will often go to the local coffee shop, to share stories and discuss what all we learned on the water. This is my second-most favorite part of the day, second only to being on the water. This time is also where you can really get to see the amazing qualities that each of our rowers consist of. We are a team, but more importantly a community that will do anything and everything for each other – it is why we are called Boulder Community Rowing.
Directly after coffee, many of us rush off to work and school, as do I. I study at the University of Colorado at Boulder where three out of the five days in the week I head to an 8am class. Many say that I am crazy for choosing such early classes, but my response to that, is what else would I do in between crew practice and a later class? Might as well use this time to study, than to waste it on my phone or some other medium.
Gaining Some Sanity and Composure With A Short Bike Ride
After surviving three to four classes a day I like to hop on my bike to get a few miles in. In addition to being a rower, I am also a cyclist. Of which, is a great form of cross training, while also offering some sanity and composure that every day tasks can seemingly strip you of. The other great thing about BCR is that many of our rowers are also cyclists, so if we ever want to ride, there is always someone else to go with.
Despite me waking up at four in the morning every single day, I find that cognitively I am able to produce work that I can consistently be proud of. If I do not wake up at such a time, I feel that I am only more tired, and therefore the quality of my work will also be subpar – it is true when people say that sports and hobbies improve your work ethic.
I study at University of Colorado Boulder in my current concentration of psychology, with the potential to delve into sports psychology, along with a minor in German. As many of you know, rowing is as much a mental sport as it is a physical sport, and I believe that getting someone “out of their head and into the boat” can really be a game changer and bring them to an entirely new level.
Fall Also Means Fall Race Season
Fall also means head race season, and being from Colorado, this is typically our most important season. Boulder Community Rowing participates in a few major head races, such as the Head of the Charles, as well as the Head of the Colorado “Pumpkin Head Regatta” in Austin, Texas. With this in mind, it is not uncommon to have multiple practices a day six to seven days a week. This year specifically, we are bringing three, masters four boats to the Charles, where I will be coxing the women’s 60+ category, and I couldn’t be more excited. It will be my second time at this event.
It is clear that rowers have a very busy day. For many, it means 18+ hours a day, six days a week. However, there is no question as to why we do it. At least for me, I know that I can start my day right by being out on the water getting faster and better. It jumpstarts the rest of what’s to come, and there’s nothing to get in your way.
More Articles From Our Boathouse Brand Ambassadors:
AFTER THE CATCH: HOW I FELL IN LOVE WITH ROWING
After serving in the Navy and becoming an orthopedic surgeon and father of four, Carl Eierle thought he’d hung up his oars for good. Then his son, also a rower, suggested they train for the Head of the Charles father/son race. Carl agreed, and what followed was a rigorous year of training in preparation for his first race in over 25 years. This is a story of hard work, perseverance, family, and a love for the sport of rowing. This is the story of how NeuBayern Racing was born. Read Carl's Story
TURNING GRIEF INTO THE ACTION THAT WOULD FULFILL MY DREAM OF BECOMING A ROWER
Tragedy and loss can galvanise us into action, making our priorities crystal clear, and give us a strength we did not know we had. Boathouse Ambassador and Navy Veteran Russell Gernaat knows this all to well. When his wife of 22 years passed away from cancer, Russell focused his grief into the energy needed to fulfill his lifelong dream of learning to row and train for in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. Having come out the other side of grief, Russell knows that when tragedy strikes you only have two choices “You can spin circles and go nowhere, or you can get up and move forward.” Read Russell’s Story.