June 28, 2007
The Patriot League recently conducted a brief question and answer session with Navy Rowing Head Coach Mike Hughes. Hughes was named the 2005 Patriot League Coach of the Year after leading the Mids to the Patriot League Championship title in the event's inaugural year.
PL: How did you get into coaching rowing?
MH: I got into coaching rowing when I was an assistant football coach at Holy Spirit High School. One of the other assistant coaches was a man named Stan Bergman who also was the head rowing coach at that high school and later became the head men's heavyweight coach at the University of Pennsylvania. Stan and I also taught special education together in a local public school. We car-pooled together to teach and also to coach for football, so it just seemed appropriate to continue that through the rowing season in 1975. That's how I started coaching the novice boys at Holy Spirit High School.
PL: Talk about Lindsey Spiese who was recently named a CRCA All-American.
MH: All 5'6" of Lindsey Spiese came to the Navy boathouse her plebe year without any rowing experience whatsoever. She had a rough go of it technically and her confidence was easily dented, but she never stopped jumping into rowing with heart and soul. She pushed herself, asked for help, and just kept coming back. By her senior year she had molded herself into a real boat mover with confidence and that white hot focus of the champion who not only had a feel for the water but could pull a first-class (senior) varsity erg score of seven minutes flat.
PL: What is a typical practice like for the Navy rowing team?
MH: In the fall, practices are primarily low stroking, long-distance cardiovascular base building practices. In winter training
from mid-November to mid-January, they are primarily on our inside ergometers. When we get back on the water, practices become more race specific. Strategy and tactics are inserted to prepare for the competition season. During the competition season when we race practically every week from late March to mid-May, each practice is designed to prepare us for the next race. During the fall and winter and in the beginning part of the spring championship season, we practice from 5:45 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. Once the season starts
we practice in the morning five days a week at 5:45 a.m. and additionally Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we do our strength training from 12:30 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. The framework of a practice is that we meet in our boat bay to hammer out the specifics of that days workout (they know the workout ahead of time from the training plan). They stretch and meet with their coxswains and then launch. They warm-up on the water, do the workout, return to the boathouse, debrief with the coxswain, meet with me, and then they're off to study.
PL: Share your thoughts on coaching in the Patriot League - a conference that prides itself on the scholar-athlete model.
MH: I feel very comfortable with the scholar-athlete model for our league since I formerly coached in the Ivy League at the University of Pennsylvania. I like the idea that our athletes came here because they chose the Naval Academy first and then decided that rowing there was for them also. Since no one is on a scholarship that would tie them financially to rowing, we have to provide a quality program to which athletes dedicate themselves and to which they stick with through all the hard work. I also like being an example of what the league professes. For example, seven of our student-athletes earned a 4.0 GPA during a our 2007 championship season.