Men's Lightweight Rowing Recruiting Guide (October 2019) - PART III of III

(continued from Part II. Again, I tried to get it all on one post but College Confidential limits the # of characters per post so this guide is in three parts.)

Here is a snapshot of my son’s experience with each school:

COLUMBIA: This is one school (along with Cornell) where the head coach takes an extremely active role in recruiting, and is it any wonder why both of these programs share all the national championships over the past six years. The head coach’s deep involvement with recruiting sets the tone. Nich Lee Parker, the head coach, is a fabulous guy and was always good about responding to my son’s emails. The questionnaire seemed irrelevant here and it was all email communication with Coach Parker and to a lesser extent the assistant coach Andrew Hess. Erg score will matter here obviously but “fit” is a big deal as well, as is character. They don’t give out many OV’s so if you get one, you’re in the catbird seat. They’ll give out 10-12 OV’s and maybe take 8-9 guys.

CORNELL: Coach Chris Kerber is generally regarded as one of the best coaches in all of lightweight rowing. His results speak for themselves: four national championships in the last six years, with Columbia having the other two. Cornell Lightweights are a powerhouse, but the best thing of all is that Coach Kerber and his assistant Bill Brumsted could not be nicer guys. They are a well-oiled recruiting machine and they have their act together. Email them both to make contact; they may ask you to fill out their questionnaire later. By all means if they offer a “Junior Rowing Day” in March go to it–they will appreciate that you made the effort and they will remember that come the summer and Fall. It certainly WILL help your cause to attend. Erg score should be 6:35 or lower, ideally between 6:25 and 6:30. They will give out roughly 20-25 OV’s and offer 8 or so spots. If rowing is your life, this place is for you.

DARTMOUTH: Dartmouth is in a rebuild phase. In July of 2018 they brought back their old head coach Dan Roock, a revered figure in the league and former Dartmouth coach from 2009-2012. They didn’t fare well in race results in 2019 but they are also an extremely young team (mostly freshmen and sophomores in the 1V) so will probably do much better in coming years. The assistant coach, Trevor Michelson, is an outstanding guy–extremely personable and encouraging and very excited about the future for D150. All my son’s email contact was with Coach Michelson, none with Roock, so this is more of the typical scenario where the assistant coach leads the recruiting effort. Greater flexibility on erg score here because they care about power-to-weight ratio more than other programs, so if you’re 145 lbs pulling a 6:36 2K, that might mean more to them than a guy who is 165 pulling a 6:31.

GEORGETOWN: The head coach here is Lee Rumpf, another super-friendly guy and very easy to correspond with. There is no assistant lightweight coach so all your emails will be to Coach Rumpf alone. This program is on the rise, having beaten Harvard in the petite finals of the 2019 IRA’s. Athletic recruits at Georgetown don’t apply early decision–they get support, if any, in the regular admissions pool. That was a drawback for my son–he wanted to be one-and-done in December. The other thing is that not being in the Ivy League, there is no likely letter, but apparently there is some Georgetown-specific version of that. But certainly a highly competitive program in the league with a very nice coach. Erg score will need to be sub-6:35 though Coach Rumpf will take your weight into account.

HARVARD: Like Dartmouth, all your communication here will be with assistant coach Ian Accomando, not the head coach (Billy Boyce). I know it’s starting to sound repetitive, but like all the coaches mentioned so far, Coach Accomando is a great guy and easy to communicate with. It’s just a fact–there are a ton of super-nice guys coaching in the men’s D1 lightweight rowing league. Harvard (like Princeton and Yale) is looking for it all–a fat erg score (certainly sub-6:30), top racing experience (i.e., victories on the national level), great academics. If you fall short in any one area, you’ll likely not make the cut. HYP just has too many kids who want to go to their schools. So even though Cornell and Columbia are the national champs, it’s harder to get recruited at HYP than at the other schools.

MIT: Email the assistant coach, Brendan Mulvey, to get the ball rolling with MIT. He will ask you to fill out the questionnaire so you can do that before you email him. All of my son’s correspondence was with Coach Mulvey, who is an extremely personable and encouraging guy. MIT has a more lenient erg score threshold (sub-6:50 will make the cut here) but on the flip side of that coin there is little to no wiggle room on GPA and test scores. You need to be an absolute top student with straight A’s and high test scores, because at MIT coaches only have so much pull with admissions. One negative in our view is that there are no pre-reads with admissions at MIT, as there is in the Ivy’s, so you’re trusting the coach to know what admissions will think of your file. The other real negative is that there is no likely letter whatsoever, so the whole thing seemed like a crapshoot to us–just too many unknowns.

PENN: At Penn you will email both the head coach (Colin Farrell) and the assistant coach (Tyler Nase), and you may get responses from both or either. They kind of tag team on the recruiting front, though Coach Nase will handle most of the correspondence. Both Coach Farrell and Coach Nase are great guys. Like Georgetown, this is a program on the rise: Penn won the Eastern Sprints in 2019 so they are the Ivy League champs. Their erg and race results standards may not be quite as high as HYP but they are high and similar to Cornell’s: you should plan to be minimum sub-6:35 and ideally sub-6:30 for Penn. Both Coach Farrell and Coach Nase are young and extremely fit (Coach Nase was in the Rio Olympics) and seem to have a great camaraderie with their team. They will extend about 20 OV’s and offer 7 spots, so highly competitive even if you get an OV.

PRINCETON: Princeton is a bit in flux because the assistant coach (Bill Manning) just left to be the assistant of the women’s team, so he is no longer part of P150. My son had all his correspondence with Coach Manning and now the head coach, Marty Crotty, is in charge of everything–including recruiting–and looking for a new assistant. Princeton seems to be the toughest nut to crack: they want the fastest erg scores (sub-6:25 ideally, sub-6:30 a must), national race results, and superior academics. This place seemed even harder to be recruited at than Harvard and Yale, and race results might be the most important here. Obviously it’s an elite program and they get the fattest erg scores in the entire recruiting class, but it’s interesting that Cornell beats them regularly in head-to-head competition.

YALE: Yale’s assistant coach, Ned Del Guercio, is a great guy and completely straightforward and transparent. You will email both him and Andy Card (the head coach) to make initial contact, but all your correspondence will be with Del Guercio. In our experience there may be a little more wiggle room on erg score here than at Princeton, so you might get an OV even if you’re not 6:25. But you’ll certainly want to be sub-6:30. And you’ll need top grades, SAT and race results. Coach Del Guercio will keep it simple and plain the whole way through, and if you aren’t going to cut it heading into summer, he will let you know. You will need video of yourself rowing–that’s an absolute Yale requirement–and you should have plenty of video on hand for all the other schools as well.

That’s it–I’m out of characters! I wish you the very best of luck and hope this is helpful! Above all else, get your erg score below 6:35.

1 Like

This series of posts is an outstanding guide to the recruiting process. It’ll be very helpful for future recruits in rowing and is also a great guide to the process for sports like Track and Field. Many of the initial steps are the same in other sports and the advice here is sound. Thanks for putting together such a great resource!!

Thank you very much politeperson for these kind words. I’m glad that you see crossover in the guide for other sports.

@PizzaDog I second that. I hope I can write a similar guide in a year’s time, but for men’s soccer. Thank you!

Super helpful process wise despite different sport. Thank you for taking the time to write this out!

Where did your son settle?

That’s the only thing my son wanted kept confidential, because he was concerned that if I said something about a program or a coach that were somehow interpreted negatively, it could come back to bite him. So his school choice will have to remain confidential. But it’s an Ivy. Thank you for the kind words one1ofeach.

Makes total sense!

Excellent post! Thank you for taking the time to post! Congratulations to your son!

The world of rowing has certainly changed. I was recruited at a top D1 out of the registration line.

For those high schoolers, my friend pulled a 6:40 on the concept 2 2k. He set the world record for the age group 65-69.

So let’s get those high schoolers trained!

LOL. I have a friend who erged on a dare in college, beat all the top rowers, joined the team, rowed in the olympics. I feel like things like that are so much more rare now.

Excellent post! I just went through the same process with my son and this is spot on! I will add that my son went on 3 OVs and only got an offer on the spot at his last visit, but had received offers from the other 2 schools a couple of weeks after he visited those schools. You need to understand that if you have been given an OV invite, you are on a pretty exclusive list, and that when the music stops you will likely have an offer someplace. The schools are very focused on the top tier early on and once that gets some clarity, they start to give more attention to guys between 30 and 35. But i will say that even though my son was ready to commit to the school that gave him the 2nd offer, the coach practically insisted that he go on his last OV. And one more thing, according to conversations my son had with other rowers on unofficials and OVs, there are always a number of guys who dont get OVs that end up with slots.

Your series of posts are amazing - Thank you! I currently have a child (jr) hoping to see this process to completion - unofficial visits in February '20 before Corona shut everything down and now on hold with the 2nd set of unofficials (originally scheduled for early April). Cornell had to cancel their jr day - Univ of Washington held their event in mid-February. Your summary of coaches is spot on from my child’s experience - a few other schools not on your son’s list are on my child’s list and we continue to be impressed with the fabulous coaches, team culture and commitment to academics too. Hard with regionals and US Rowing nationals cancelled this Spring and so glad my child started late summer/Fall of jr year with contacts, completed ACT score and had a great result at HOTC this past Fall. Seems to be in a good place - but it is not over until it over and no clue how the virus will impact admissions and sports moving forward for the HS class of 2021. Rowing is an great sport and do hope my child can continue in college - if that continues to be a desire. Thanks again for your post - your time is very appreciated. Sorry that your son’s season was also cut short and wishing him well too.

Again, super grateful for this series! A question about Georgetown (different sport and female, but assuming similar gist) A relative of mine applied early with no sport and now goes there. Is applying early after being recruited a possibility because you mentioned it wasn’t. If it isn’t, would you happen to know why? Seems a little odd to me, and I agree with your son, really prefer to be done with come December! Thanks for all the help!

Unfortunately we didn’t go very far down the road with Georgetown so I can’t give you a solid answer. I would just ask the coach there very directly about applying early vs. regular admission and whether recruits are expected to do one or the other. The coach should supply the definitive answer. Sorry I can’t be of more help. One final thing: in light of all that is going on with these colleges cancelling athletic programs–especially rowing (to wit, Stanford, Dartmouth)–be sure and address that issue with the coach and get as much reassurance as you can that there are no plans afoot at the college to scrap your child’s particular sport.

You mentioned your son did long steady-state training. I was wondering what his workout regimen looked like in terms of how many lifting days (as well as workouts he did), long steady-state ergs, and short sprint pieces he did. Also, did your son do any cross-training like swimming, running, or biking with his erging? If so how did he incorporate it into his regimen?

My son erg’d about 20K per day, typically all steady state. He did not do a lot of short sprint pieces, just 2K’s once a month after a solid month of steady state. He didn’t do much cross-training like running or swimming, but he did lift regularly and that was very helpful. I think he lifted every other day (if not every day) and I know he did a lot of squats–that was his main lifting exercise (to build up the legs). One of the real keys for my son’s training was figuring out his personal ‘steady state’, and since I helped him with this I do know a little bit about it. To figure out your personal ‘steady state’, you will need to check your blood lactate levels while rowing on the erg, and you can buy an online test kit for that. My son bought the Lactate Pro 2 blood lactate test meter by Arkray. The blood lactate concentration at the anaerobic threshold is called the “maximum steady-state lactate concentration” (MLSS). That’s the exercise intensity at which anaerobic energy pathways start to operate, considered to be around 65-85% of an individual’s maximum heart rate. I’m not expert on this so you may want to consult with your club coach, and if you really want to take your training to another level, you could consider hiring Xeno Muller. He is not cheap but he gets results on the erg. I hope this is helpful to you. Best of luck!