Several years ago, my friend Elizabeth Burke and I rowed twice a week through the Seattle winter. We ventured out without fail as dawn was breaking - rowing two single shells or a double. We'd row from the Fremont Bridge to the Chittenden Locks and back, or maybe across Lake Union and on to Lake Washington. Sometimes we'd come back to our home at the Lake Washington Rowing Club and wipe the ice off our boats. But we always came back with an irrefutable sense of moral superiority! We'd done it again!

Rowing - particularly Rowing Through the Winter - provides a richness of metaphors...instructive in my life as a Family Physician and the Home Dialysis CarePartner for my profoundly ill husband, Steve Williams. Now that Steve is gone, rowing reminds me of consistency and focus - so critical during grieving. Rowing requires balance, as does my life.

Row with me this winter. Linda Gromko, MD

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thanks to Coach Bill Skilling for a Great Season!

With the Head of the Lake Regatta approaching this weekend, we are finishing the fall rowing season at Lake Washington Rowing Club. I've had so much fun in the Novice Sweep Group, it is just a pity to see the season come to an end.

We have great coaches at Lake Washington Rowing Club - serving rowers of all abilities and aspirations. Bill Skilling was a standout, ranking right up there with Frank Cunningham and Hugh Lade.

So, what are the qualities that make a good coach?

  • Patience and tenacity
  • A love of newcomers entering the sport
  • The ability to communicate clearly - to translate rowing vernacular into terms we understand
  • A clear and ever-present respect for the rowers - the tacit recognition that we are accomplished in our own fields
  • Refusal to ridicule participants
  • The ability to give one prompt - or work on one problem - at a time
  • Humor - absolutely critical! In Bill's case, the tendency to lapse into fluent Norwegian at a moment's notice. Or to call an end to the practice so that one of the rowers could make her pedicure appointment - hardly; she was going to work!
  • The basics of being prepared, being on time, respecting participants'schedules
  • The quality of taking the workout seriously, but not so seriously as to preclude fun.

But perhaps the most important message a coach can deliver is that each rower is physically and emotionally safe. After all, that's when the best learning occurs.

It's been a wonderful season. Thanks to Bill, and to all of the excellent coaches at LWRC.
Linda Gromko, MD

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