Rowing team loses four coaches in two years

Team won't falter, head coach says

Rob Watering coached at Queen’s for six years.
Rob Watering coached at Queen’s for six years.
Credit: 
Supplied

For the second time in two seasons, the Queen’s rowing team will lose the services of at least one coach.

Scott Feddery, women’s lightweight coach and former Rowing Canada Coach of the Year, is leaving Queen’s to become the head coach of the University of Victoria’s rowing program.

In addition, Rob Watering, men’s heavyweight coach and this year’s Ontario Men’s Coach of the
Year, is leaving his post to become head coach at the University of Toronto’s rowing program.

Last season, the team lost assistant coaches Ed Ough and Ray Lonsdale.

John Armitage, head coach of Queen’s rowing, said the losses are unfortunate for Queen’s, but isn’t worried about how the departures will affect the future success of the team.

“Let’s not get carried away with Chicken Little and the sky is falling because rowing lost a coach of the year,” he said.

“We have coaches in the community that are committed, and it’s just a matter of developing a new generation of coaches.” Heavyweight rower Andrew Rastapkevicius agreed the team will miss their coaches, but felt the program will remain strong with Armitage at the helm.

“John is the lifeblood of our program,” he said. “It’s his dedication and passion for the team that motivates and inspires the other coaches we have had at Queen’s.”

Watering agreed. “We have been successful with coaches and the quality of coaches, and I think it’s due to John and his mentoring qualities,” he said. “He just seems to strike the right balance between giving coaches room to find their own strengths and providing the support so that people can come to him whenever they need help.” Though the rowing program has lost four coaches in two years, Watering was the only one to leave his position as assistant coach for a coaching vacancy at another university. Armitage said there was little Queen’s or the rowing team could do about it.

“There’s a natural turnover in all sports. But the fact that four high-level coaches have left in two years is regrettable.” Watering said it was difficult to be a coach in addition to holding a full-time position as a research assistant in the field anatomy and cell biology at Queen’s, and he wanted to stay in Kingston if he could. “If Queen’s did have a full-time coaching position, I would definitely have been interested,” he said.

With the two coaches leaving, the student executive and Armitage will have an increased workload, but others are stepping in to help fill the void. For example, Rastapkevicius and his rowing partner, Mike Wilkinson, will be giving presentations at high schools in Western Canada to recruit high school students for the rowing program.

They are making the stops at their own expense, en route to Victoria for a qualification event.

“The influence that Armitage has on us is that we don’t just come in, row and leave,” Rastapkevicius said. “You acquire the same passion for the sport that he has and you genuinely care about the well-being of Queen’s rowing.” Despite the added challenges he will face this fall, Armitage has a positive take on the situation. “I’m kind of proud of the fact that other universities want our people,” he said.

“For 30 years, the rowing team has been one of the top three rowing teams in Ontario and one of the top five teams in Canada with volunteer coaches.”

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