Coaching Staff 2020


Club Programs Manager: Mary Rao

Why did you get into coaching?

Why not?! (laughs) I can teach anyone how to row, I can’t teach someone how to be passionate about the sport, so that’s why I like coaching.

What is your coaching “catch phrase”?

“We’re doin’ it live!”, “Making it happen!”

What is your favourite workout/drill on the water, and why?

I like pause drills. I have different pause drills than most other coaches. With this new technique that we’ve learned, how to we closely mimic people rowing at the world championships. What are the actual positions that they row at, now necessarily the positions that we teach people.

What is the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received?

I was always told that you will never be any good at this sport if you don’t get involved. That has really driven things for me in the past. You’ll never be a good coxie if you don’t coach, you’ll never be a good coach if you don’t row. You’ll never be a good coxie if you don’t umpire, so then you know the rules.

Best accomplishment in rowing?

It’s really cool to work with club programs. Operating a team of 40 U17 Men, I would definitely say is a significant challenge and accomplishment. If you know anything about 15 or 16 year-old boys, it can be like herding farrelled cats (laughs). I was selected to coach the CanaMax team this year, I was selected as the provincial U17 Men’s Coach for the National Rowing Championships.

Lead Coach – Adult Programs:

Sarah Fuller

What program(s) did you study in school?

I currently am finishing up my undergraduate degree at Queen’s University which is a major in Biology and minor in Geology.

What is your favourite workout/drill on the water, and why?

My favourite drill on the water is “the Sarah starts”, which I created in a pair. I like this drill because it allows athletes to practice an over-complicated start sequence which enables an athlete to perform a start during a race like it’s second nature. It also provides athletes confidence when sitting at the start of a start because they know they can handle anything.

What is the most important thing another athlete has taught you?

“There is a positive correlation between colourful spandex and athletic greatness”

What is your coaching “catch phrase”?

“Yes we are doing square blade rowing, and no it is not too windy”

Why did you get into coaching?

I started off as a rower myself and wanted to help develop athletes and show how wonderful this sport was to as many individuals as I could. Rowing gave me many opportunities, so by coaching I hoped to give back to the sport which in turn actually made me appreciate it a lot more.

Coach Eve Belfry

Why rowing?

I had heard about it when the Pan Am Games were here and I found it really interesting. Welland is known for the sport, so I thought I’d get into it and I liked it.

Why did you get into coaching?

I just love the sport so much and I want to teach it to other people.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

The harder you work, the better you get. The more time you put into it, the more you get out of it. That is what matters the most.

What is your favourite rowing moment?

Last fall when I was racing, I had a really, really good race and finished 1st, and it was just so nice! It felt so great!



Rachel Della Valle

Why rowing?

I had a neighbour that rowed, and she convinced me to come out and try it and ever since I have stuck with it. I played a lot of other sports along with rowing but realized in my last year of high school it was too hard for me to row and play other sports, so I chose to just focus on rowing.

Why did you get into coaching?

I decided to start coaching last summer because I wanted to share my knowledge of rowing and give back to my club. I started coaching learn to row athletes so athletes that have never really even rowed before. By the end of the summer I loved seeing how much they had improved, and I decided I wanted to keep coaching. This summer ii am coaching the competitive program and I love being able to share all the different levels of rowing I have gone through with these athletes.

Describe your rowing career.

I started rowing a bit in elementary school to see what it was about, but I didn’t really start till I was in high school. I have rowed since grade 9 and I took one year off because I was playing other sports at the time. I decided. In my grade 12 year to stop playing other sports and just row and at this time I wanted to try and get a scholarship to the U.S. I ended up staying for 12 B and took a few classes and trained really hard that year to improve my 2k erg time. I ended up getting a scholarship to the University of Oklahoma where I have now just finished my second year there.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Best piece of advice I ever received in rowing would have to be from my coach in high school Bob and I remember he said, “the boat is already going fast your job is to not slow it down.” It’s true the boat already is moving through the water and it all depends on how we row that determines how fast we let the boat go.

What is your favourite rowing moment?

My favourite rowing moment would have to be my first year of university we were at a regatta in Texas and I was in the second varsity eight and we won the race against USC by less than a second it was a photo finish. We were looked at as the slower boat and I remember we all just went for it I the last 250 meters and we ended up just getting our bow ball past there’s.


Jacob Giesbrecht

Why rowing?

I always said that I would have stuck with soccer if I wasn’t terrible at it. It just happened that I was a little bit better at rowing. Rowing is one of those sports where, if you put a little more effort into it, you’re going to be better at it. There is certainly talent and skill involved, but with the lightweight category I had the opportunity to succeed, as opposed to hockey where it was hard to be successful if you’re 5’10 and don’t have raw talent. It was a good late-entry sport for me, because I was always athletic and it was just perfect because I love being outdoors. I have a huge amount of appreciation for nature. I was able to succeed in rowing, I had opportunities, doors that I didn’t know existed.

Why did you get into coaching?

I started because I was able to develop myself as an athlete, so it was originally just a selfish thing. I wanted to be a better rower, and I knew I’d be a better rower if I learned to teach others and understand more of what my coaches were telling me. I have a problem quitting things, so I just kept going with it and it felt great.

Best piece of advice that you’ve ever received

I had some Master’s rowers, ladies who were much rower than me, and they had some internal strife and I wasn’t really sure how to deal with that. They reminded that after 16, people don’t really grow-up. It has the most impact on how I was able to coach someone of any age, because it is awkward when you have an age disparity and experience differentials, and as a coach you represent yourself confidently, and remember that we are really all just kids [at heart].

Favorite rowing moment?

I always like to reinforce the importance of getting back into the boat, learning how to flip, so you can get back in. I was rowing at Hanlan as a member of U of T. It was 5 am in late fall, around November, and the water was freezing cold, pitch dark, and we were doing a race-pace piece. I was in a double and we had a coach with us, but again, pitch black, and at full speed, right as we get to the catch, we run into a massive metal pilon/buoy and flip instantly. We are in the water for a few minutes and our coach didn’t really realize that we flipped, so getting back into the boat immediately, while we were treading water, was important. I remember that story because I was in shock! People don’t like to practice getting back into the boat, but my god, does it ever come in handy when you need it! (laughs)

What is your favourite coaching catch phrase?

I have rules – rule #1 is “don’t lose control of the ore”. Rule #2 is “don’t run into things”. Rule #3 is “Don’t do stupid s#*@” (laughs).

Coach Jacob Gula

Why rowing?

Rowing kind of runs in my family. It started with my great-granpa, then my grandpa, then my mom, and now its down to me. I tried it once with my family and I really enjoyed it, so I’ve just been sticking with it!

Why did you get into coaching?

It all started with Riley (Riley O’Neill, fellow SNRC Coach). I enjoyed getting coaching from all different athletes and different [experienced] coaches, like Bob, and I just wanted to use the knowledge I gained from them to give back to our next generation of athletes.

Best piece of advice that I’ve ever received

Honestly, relaxation. The more you get frustrated in rowing, the more you’re not going to improve. If you stay relaxed, calm, the more you’ll be able to focus on everything, if you get upset and angry, you’re going to get absolutely nothing done. That’s just how it works.

What is your favourite coaching catchphrase?

I like to say “that’s good!” Keep them motivated, tell them they’re doing good. You don’t want to let them get down. Even if they make a slight adjustment, it’s still good. Little improvements, that’s how it works.


Sierra Humphries

Why Rowing?

It’s not something your just naturally good at, you have to work at it. I like that [aspect].

How did you get into Coaching?

I really like the sport and I wanted to help other people learn to love it too.

What is the best piece of rowing advice you’ve ever received?

If you put in time, it will get better.

Coach Grace Janzen

How did you get into rowing? / Why rowing?

I started rowing in high school because my family was full of rowers but didn’t love it. When I was in university it was Bob Young and Swede who got me out on the water and loving it, and then it just stuck.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“Quick hands” or “your hands should be in constant motion” because I used to pause at the body a lot, still do when I get tired out.

What is your favourite rowing “moment”?

Early morning practice on the smooth-as-glass SNRC course.

What program(s) did you study in school?

Medical Sciences and Nursing

What is your favourite workout / drill on the water, and why?

My favourite drill on the water is rigger dips! I find any drill that reminds me of how important the level of my hands are helps me a lot with hand during my strokes. I also just like seeing how far I can get without tipping, haha!

Coach Riley O’Neill

Why rowing?

I joined rowing because it was close to my home and it was something both my sister and I could do. I stayed in rowing because I fell in love with the sport and the lifestyle that came with it.

Rowing career

My rowing career has been all over the place. I started here at South Niagara and then competed for team Canada at the CANAMMEX level. I then came back to South Niagara to begin my coaching career, then received a scholarship to the University of Oklahoma where I now Cox and in the summer I come home and work here at South Niagara coaching the competitive athletes.

Best piece of advice that I’ve ever received?

Bob likes to talk about having different vantage points. With coxing it’s very important to look at athletes from the coxswain seat as well as the coach boat and in the rowing seat. Bob taught me how to do this and it has pushed my knowledge and coxing to the next level.

Most memorable rowing moment.

I think my favorite moments in rowing is when I’m explaining something and the athlete just gets it and takes off. A good example of this is Lauren Patterson. When she understands something the smile on her face is priceless and her rowing is flawless. The confidence I can give someone when they do something right is by far my favorite rowing moment.

Coaching catch phrase

A lot of people say that I say “you got this” or “you got it” a lot. I even have a picture on my wall in my bedroom that says it. 

Absent for Media Day

Coach Carley Couroux

Coach Hannah Thompson


Coach Bob

Why Rowing?

It started in grade 10. The kid behind me in class got me into it because his father was involved and they kept bugging me to try it. So, I went to try it, and I never left!

Rowing Career

I attended the Canadian Olympic Qualifying Camp in 1979. Unfortunately, Canada decided to boycott the Games due to political reasons.

I represented Canada at 5 World Rowing Championships.

Most memorable rowing moment(s)

I still remember the Munich [1981 WRC Germany] race. The boat just flew. It felt effortless. We finished 4th. Missed 3rd place by less than a second.

In high school in 1975, we won the Henley in the Senior 8’s with a time of 4:15. We set the record for the 1500m distance at Henley. Every rower in that boat went on to compete internationally.

How did you get into Coaching?

I started in St. Catharines with the national team. The team asked me to coach for the team. We coached kids ages 8-13 and ran programs to get kids into rowing. We did it for 2 summers as a part time job while training.

What is the best piece of rowing advice you’ve ever received?

Trust your gut!


Coach Jamie

Why rowing?

I was living on a sailboat for a year and all I did was drink beer and eat chicken wings, so I was getting really fat (laughs).

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I rowed years ago, and when I did I had really good coaches and I think they were life changing. They taught me to do what I didn’t think I could possibly do. They take you to a point where you think you cannot do it, and you go beyond that and do it!

What is your coaching “catch phrase”?

Kevin, stop slacking! (as Kevin walks by laughing!)

Coach Peter

Why rowing?

Last year I was very successful in breaking down the rowing stroke to help athletes practice skills and drills to help them as individuals to be technically stronger rowers, with use of technology such as video and photographs to find higher levels of success.

Why did you get into coaching?

I come from a hockey background, having coached everything from house league to AAA, as Head/Bench Coach and Goalie Coach. From there, I coached the highly successful Welland Centennial Secondary School Rowing Team.

Describe your coaching style.

I am an inclusive and very approachable coach who is always able to help athletes find new levels of personal success regardless of where they start from or past experience.

What is your coaching “catch phrase”?

‘Excellence doesn’t happen by accident; it is the intentional commitment to it on a daily basis.’

Coaching catch phrase

My favourite drill is the three by five! “Mr. Rollups!”, which helps athletes learn to be fearless and have control at the catch.

Coach Ralph

Why rowing?

I’ve rowed here before and coached here before, so I enjoy it.

Why did you get into coaching?

When I was teaching, the VP of the school I was at was a former national coach, so he asked me to come out and help, so that’s how I got started.

What is your coaching “catch phrase”?

If you catch a crab, don’t fight the ore because one of you will win and one of you will lose, and the ore will always win! (laughs)

Most memorable rowing moment?

I had a crew back in the 90s. They were going to win a golf medal. They were coming down the course at a regatta and the bow seat jumped the slide and it was a brand-new boat, they had never rowed in it before, so they weren’t familiar with it – they had no practice getting back into it, because it has never happened before. So they went from 1st place down to 4th place, and it was top 3 to qualify, so they missed the cut. The crew that ended up winning the gold medal was a crew that we actually beat at a previous regatta.