ODU Varsity Women's Crew
By ODU Athletics
What is a Coxswain?
The coxswain is the person in charge of steering the boat and motivating the crew. Her job consists of numerous responsibilities such as executing the race strategy, maintaining boat rhythm, fixing small technique errors, and being in charge of the boat and the people in it during race day and when coaches are absent.
What it takes to be Coxswain
In the boat the rowers are the brawn and the coxswain is the brain. Depending on their commands, coxswains control the power that rowers put out, enabling them to steer the boat. In order to do so safely, coxswains must be quick thinkers and assertive; her word is law on the water not only for speed but also the safety of the boat and the rowers.
A typical coxswain is 5'5" or shorter, and about 110 lbs.* and has a very big voice. Being a coxswain is more then just yelling, "Stroke!" It takes a lot of thinking, hand-eye coordination and responsibility.
*110 lbs. is the minimum weight limit for racing. If you weigh more then this, no problem! If you don't, you just have to carry sand in the boat during races.
The Hardest Part of the Job
When rowers are on the water, all they have to do is follow through the commands of the coxswain. As the coxswain, you have to think about what you're saying. You are responsible for the safety of up to 8 women whenever you're on the water, and your actions can cause injury to them and the boat (that can cost up to $40,000). The amount of trust that rowers and coaches must have in their coxswain is tremendous.
Best Part of Coxing
Racing! Words can't come close to describing it so we won't try. Just imagine the most intense 7 minutes of your life and maybe that comes close. Also, knowing that just by saying the "right" words to your crew makes them speed up. What other sport gives you that opportunity?