Eights train at Sparks Rowing Development Camp on Lake Hayes in Queenstown, New Zealand. (Shot for camp film, “Get On With It.”) Coxswains Only Camp

Coxswains Only Camp 2016 Overview

The focus is exclusively on coxswains

This is a rowing camp where coxing skills are the only focus.

Sparks ‘rents’ the team: boats and athletes (and they win too, with a fundraiser.) Entire on water practices are spent on absolutely everything that goes with being the ninth seat. The art of steering, command structure, docking, dealing with conditions, and interpreting drills are only the tip of the iceberg. Coxswains only gives us a chance to focus more intensely on the advanced curriculum (see below) we’ve developed and use at our summer camp and fill a need we’ve seen from many coxswain and college counseling clients.

Be sure to read the blog from our coxswains only camp.

Advanced coaching from elite coxswains

As coxswains know, there’s very few elites out there – and even then, the education received can be hard to come by because it can’t be done on the water in the course of a normal practice. Our coxswain coaches are some of the top in the world. They have been to the world championships and the Olympics. They’ve given years of their lives – both young and adult – to the seat.

Even though we could hold a camp similar to this without this staff and make it revolutionary given the concept of exclusive coxswain focus, we believe our staff rounds camp up to the best level of coxswain coaching in the world.

A curriculum years in the making

We made a decision early on at Sparks to help coxswains by taking a serious look at creating a concrete system for coxswain education and employing it via our camps and virtual coxswain coaching and college counseling. After years of fine-tuning and employing this system we’re happy to utilize the best pieces in person.

Coxswains can expect to learn in much the same way doctors do rounds in teaching hospitals. They will be put in small groups with their attending coach and present to the group during on water exercises throughout the week.

Awareness: We believe awareness is the most important aspect of coxing because all coxswains are self-taught. We learn from our surroundings – from what our coaches and athletes are saying, and what we’re feeling and seeing inside, outside, and around the shell. Our curriculum emphasis awareness via daily, detailed analysis of everything from digital recordings to inward reflections during training.

Steering: Steering is absolutely essential for coxswains: the fastest distance between two points is a straight line. Beyond that, safety and shell integrity are at stake. We utilize buoyed and non-buoyed courses as well as teach steering in different wind conditions. The curriculum also addresses turns for head racing.

Organization: We teach coxswains how to organize their boats effectively on the water and off to make sure they’re running efficient and effective practices and maximize potential boat speed. We measure organization by making sure that coxswains communicate clearly and effectively to achieve objectives and goals established by coaches and the team.

Direction: If you can’t hear your commander on the battlefield, chaos will ensue; coxswains must construct clean and effective command structures. Coxswains are shown how to most effectively give a command and execute it in real-time scenarios on the water. Coxswains are also taught how to evaluate their audio recordings to find their own personal structure.

Coxswains Only Camp Coaching Staff

Laura Simon

Coxswain Coach, US Jr. National Team
Asst. Coach, Yale University

Laura Simon has accumulated experience at the international, national, and division 1 levels of women’s rowing. The former associate head coach at UMass and current assistant coach at Yale, Laura also served on the US national team. In addition to her coaching duties, she is also a Coxswain Education Coordinator for The Foundation for Rowing Education and the US junior national team’s coxswain coach. Laura co-authored The Coxswain’s Encyclopedia. She enjoys presenting to her peers at the US Rowing Annual Convention and smaller conferences on coaching the coxswain and has been integral in Sparks’ development of our coxing curriculum.


Malcolm Doldron

Coxswain Coach, US Jr. Nat. Development Team
Head Coach LWT Women’s Rowing, Boston University

We’re lucky to have Malcolm in Oklahoma this year. Prior to assuming the head coaching slot for BU’s new LW women’s program, Malcolm served as the women’s assistant coach at Columbia University for four years while also working as the coxswain coach for the US women’s junior national team development camp. Prior to that, Malcolm coached at Princeton University for two years. A former coxswain himself, he coached junior rowing from 1999-2005 in DC. Born in New York, raised in DC, but now living in Boston, he has not yet claimed allegiance to the Yankees or Red Sox.


Leigh Carroll

US National Team
Sparks Coxswain Associate

Leigh Carroll is a former Division 1 and National Team coxswain who has coached on both the junior and collegiate levels. After a successful career coxing the Brown Men’s varsity 8+, she held coaching positions with Wayland-Weston Rowing Association and the Harvard-Radcliffe lightweight women’s team. An experienced international racer, Leigh also coxed the US women’s 8+ to a second-place finish in Australia at the Samsung World Cup after helping the U23 national team to a bronze finish at the World Championships and Brown to a second-place finish in the Grand Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta. Leigh holds a Masters Degree in Education from Stanford University with a concentration in Secondary School Teaching.


Marcus McElhenney

Marcus McElhenney
Men’s Olympic Coxswain, US National Team
Sparks Coxswain Director

Marcus is a Philadelphia coxswain who’s found victory on the Schuylkill and many places elsewhere. After a successful scholastic career in Philadelphia, he coxed the USA Men to three world championship titles and the Olympic Men’s 8+ to a bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games. Marcus is an experienced junior coach and possesses a personal knowledge of many of the country’s former US team members coaching on the junior and collegiate levels. Marcus holds a JD and “moonlights” in corporate litigation.


Coxswains Only Camp Details

Coxswains Only Camp Registration

July 25 -- 29 and August 1 -- 5, 2016

Click Below to Register
Week 1 FULL
Week 2 Open

Coxswains Only Camp Schedule

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5
10AM - 3 PM Travel to Camp 7AM - 11:15AM Breakfast/Cox 7AM - 11:15AM Breakfast/Cox 7AM - 11:15AM Breakfast/Cox 7AM - 10:30AM Breakfast/Cox
11:15 AM - 11:45 AM Coach/Student Meetings 11:15 AM - 11:45 AM Coach/Student Meetings 11:15 AM - 11:45 AM Coach/Student Meetings 10:30 AM - 11:00 AM Coach/Student Meetings
12:00PM - 1:00PM Lunch 12:00PM - 1:00PM Lunch 12:00PM - 1:00PM Lunch 11:00AM - 12:00PM Lunch
3:00PM - 4:00PM Check-In 1:15PM - 2:15PM Private Coaching 1:15PM - 2:15PM Private Coaching 1:15PM - 2:15PM Private Coaching 12:15PM - 2:30PM Coxing
4:00PM - 7:00PM Orientation & Coxswain Assessment 2:30PM - 5:30PM Coxing 2:30PM - 5:30PM Coxing 2:30PM - 5:30PM Coxing 2:45PM - 3:15 PM Camp Closing
7:00PM - 7:30PM Dinner 5:45PM - 6:30PM Dinner 5:45PM - 6:30PM Dinner 5:45PM - 6:30PM Dinner 3:15PM-4:15PM Individual Feedback Collection
8:00PM - 8:45PM Awareness Conversation 7:00PM - 7:45PM Steering Conversation 7:00PM - 7:45PM Organization Conversation 7:00PM - 7:45PM Direction Conversation 3:15PM - 4:30PM Depart Camp
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5

Camp Forms


Please complete the following forms. The information packet is yours to keep while the code of conduct, waiver, and physical forms should be printed out, signed, and brought to camp.

The travel and goals forms are to be filled out and submitted online.

  • Physical -- To be printed, signed by your physician, and turned in at camp.
  • Waiver -- To be printed, filled out, and turned in at camp.

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