Coxswains Only Camp

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.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

If you have questions, we're happy to speak further. 

Set Up A Call To Talk Further

Coxswains Only Camp

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.

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

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.

Zach Vlahos

Former US National Team Coxswain, Georgetown Men's Assistant Coach

Zach Vlahos 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 California Men’s varsity 8+, he held coaching positions with Mercer Junior Rowing and is currently the Georgetown University Men’s Assistant coach. An experienced international racer, Zach also coxed the US men’s 8+ to a fourth place finish in London at the 2012 Olympics, after helping the U23 national team to a silver finish at the World Championships and California to a first place finish at the IRA National Championships at the 2007 Temple Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta.

Wendy Wilbur

Assistant Coach Women's Rowing, University of Texas

Coach Wilbur hails from a team which has surprised and impressed the rowing community given its recent successes – especially since “Austin” isn’t “Boston” in terms of its history in the sport (but who knows what the future holds). She joins the Longhorns after serving as an assistant coach the last five seasons for Harvard University’s Radcliffe Crew. Wilbur helped Radcliffe win medals at the 2013 and 2014 Ivy League Championships and mentored novice rowers who earned positions in NCAA Championship squad boats from 2011-14. “When I saw where the rowing program at The University of Texas was headed, I knew it was a staff on which I wanted to be a part,” Wilbur said. “With my years as an elite athlete and collegiate coach, I hope to add to the talented leadership already in place. The future looks bright, and I am honored to play a role in the development of the team.”

Coxswains Only Camp

  • Who:  The camp is open to any and all entrants, limited only by number, age, grade level and/or gender, designed for experienced coxswains aged 14-19
  • When: 
    • July 22-26, 2019
    • July 29-August 2, 2019
  • Cost:  $2,250*
  • Where:  Oklahoma City's Boathouse District, a $50M+ development of boathouses (most notably Chesapeake and USRowing's Devon) and water sport facilities on Oklahoma River. Campers will stay at the Marriott Residence Inn within walking distance of the boathouses. Shuttles will run between OKC airport and the hotel on the first and last day of camp.
  • Questions:  Email
  • Supervision:  The staff lives amongst the student athletes, and has oversight 24 hours a day. Unhealthy substances and/or behaviors are strictly prohibited.
  • Payment/Refunds:  Payments may be made in full through our registration portal by using the table on the registration tab. Refunds minus a $500 deposit are available until a month before camp.
  • Camp Forms:  Legally binding agreements are signed via e-mail at time of registration. All other camp documents are be made available 6 weeks prior to camp on the camp forms tab.
  • Staffing:  Some coaches are active US athletes; their availability may be subject to change. To find out about a particular coach, shoot us an e-mail.
  • * on Cost:  Reflects athlete rental expense. Funds support developing and scholarship junior athletes in Oklahoma City.

Coxswains Only Camp

Coxswains, start your engines! Click below to Register.

Daycamper? Ask us for the coupon code! 

Jul 22 2019 - Jul 26 2019

Week 1
Good Availability

Jul 29 2019 - Aug 02 2019

Week 2
Good Availability

Coxswains Only Camp

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

Coxswains Only Camp