Rotary Club of Olympia
The Wheel
Date: 5-3-2021
Today’s Program: Olympia Area Rowing - a journey through the pandemic and beyond
Meeting Called to order: By President Sean Padget @ 12:03 pm
Invocation by:  Micki Holden-Cooper
Pledge of Allegiance led by: President Sean Padget
Four Way Test led by: President Sean Padget
Visiting Rotarians: N/A
Guest of Rotarians: N/A
Announcements:  GRUB signups available May 11-25 two sessions available on workdays. Sign up at 
Reminder to have members make a gift to the Centennial Art Project; seeking 100% participation from club members.
Program:  Sarah Clinton introduced today’s speaker, Richard Hull.  Richard is Head Coach at Olympia Area Rowing. Under his guidance the youth program tripled in size in the past six years. While providing a nurturing environment for athletes of all abilities, the program now regularly wins regional titles and sends multiple crews per year to Youth Nationals. In addition, Richard has served as NW ODP Men’s Head Coach, and has helped provide technical assistance to several U-23 crews, two of which have gone on to represent the USA at Worlds.  Prior to Olympia, Richard spent over 25 years in the business world as a consultant, CEO, and investor.
In parallel, he coached multiple youth sports including tennis, baseball, softball, and soccer, earning an American Youth Soccer Organization advanced coaching certification. He raced for the GB National Team in European regattas in 1990, won the Visitor’s Cup at Henley in 1989, and won the Boat Race three times with Oxford between 1987 and 1990 while studying for a PhD in biochemistry.  (Source:  USRowing)
Richard Hull, Journey through the pandemic and beyond:
Richard shared the mission of Olympia Area Rowing and how the pandemic has made it difficult to maintain the team comradery and connection.  Had to go to mostly single
Sculling (two oars single, double and quad) vs. sweep (one oar – pair, four or eight)
More than 50 high school and 20 middle schoolers in the program currently.  The sport is extremely physically demanding, highly technical, and training is required all year around.  Indoor training during the winter. 
Encourage and empower young adults of all abilities to become capable and confident people withing the framework of a team oriented, competitive rowing program.
“Row Well, Go Fast, Have Fun!” is the motto of the program.  Note it does not include “Win.”  Emphasize team and community, pushing yourself, and keeping participation appropriate to experience ability and goals.  Teach how to compete, which also includes how to lose as that is part of competition. 
Focus on responsibility to yourself, your teammates, and your community.  Be healthy and find joy!
Many of program graduates have continued to row in college, sometimes with scholarships, sometimes as walk-ons. 
Challenges experienced during COVID include equipment, teamwork, communication, competition, goals, practice structure, coaching.
Goals during pandemic include be responsible, reinvent, stay relevant, add value, stay solvent.
Put together safety protocols and students created a video including masking, social distancing, hand washing and changes in operations.  Small group, small boat rowing under strict protocols, virtual team structure, provide community, resources and continuity for athletes and families. 
Erg is the equipment for dryland training and the organization worked to place an Erg in Every Home.  Grant funding and other fundraising assisted in providing an Erg in private homes.  Hope to expand this program into local schools to expose more students to rowing.
Because coaches weren’t on the water as often, understanding of the goals of each athlete increased and the coaches could customize training around those individual goals.
Last year there were no on-the-water nationals, but virtual nationals that were Erg races.  Have learned how much can be done on-line, how much is missed from in person training and how little kids need adults to help them connect.
Club has secured new singles and pontoons for beginners to the single, which will be a continued focus.  Coaching approach for single boats is much different than team coaching.  Working to build back a one team vibe.  Vaccinated athletes are allowed to row in team boats again.  Still don’t know what competition will look like and things are being done very differently across the county and even regionally. 
Asked what the pipeline is from this program to major West Coast programs like UW and UC Berkeley, Richard shared that has happened but also that often D1 schools are not what fits the student best and there are examples of D2 and D3 schools with programs that have provided great opportunities.
Classes exist for all age groups and most start at a learn to row class and on a wide, stable, single, then move up to level 2 class, some competitive and others simply recreational. 
Olympia Area Rowing is a non-profit and donations to it are tax deductible.  More information available at 
Meeting Adjourned: 12:57 pm by President Sean Padget