When Danelle Stipes joined Recreational Services as the Rowing program coordinator in 2013, there were ten people on the adult program roster. No one was registered for the high school program.
Fast forward three years, and you’ll find the Beckwith Boathouse packed during practice times.
This past year, 56 adult and 25 high school athletes participated in the Rowing program, a significant increase in a fairly short amount of time.
Why the growth? Much of it can be attributed to Danelle’s coaching style. She treats and coaches every athlete as an individual – while still thinking big picture and not losing focus on the team as a whole.
“It’s a challenge, I’ll be honest,” said Danelle, “With so many athletes of all levels, giving them each the attention they deserve is hard, but we make it work because it’s important that they improve as rowers – which in turn makes us a better team.”
She also accepts rowers of all fitness abilities into the program and creates a very welcoming environment.
“There is definitely a community aspect with the team. We care for each other, hang out with each other outside of practice,” she said, “You get to know your teammates really well.”
The opportunity also exists to compete as part of the competitive team, Hawkeye Community Rowing. In 2013, there were seven members who competed in the annual Iowa Games event. This past July, there were 34 rowers representing Hawkeye Community Rowing at the Iowa Games.
When asked why more rowers were interested in competing, Danelle said the answer was simple, “I tell them they can. What’s the worst that could happen?” Because of this optimistic outlook, Hawkeye Community Rowing competed in seven races the past year, all over the Midwest.
While it’s been a good three years for Danelle and the program, she’d would like to see more growth in the high school program and adaptive program. But there has been a lot of success with the high school rowers this past year. In fact, three former high school rowers are on the University of Iowa team this fall: Claire Rutherford, Miranda Cox, and Jasmin Gu.
You can keep up with Hawkeye Community Rowing by liking their Facebook page.