Winter Coxswains Only

The focus is exclusively on coxswains

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

For this winter camp, we run an abbreviated version of our 5 day summer program in Oklahoma City – this is amongst the most intensive options we offer for coxswains.

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 onlythe 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 throughout our camp system. 

Advanced coaching from elite coxswains

As coxswains know, there are 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, 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 as doctors doing 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 emphasizes 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.

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

Set Up A Call To Talk Further

Winter Coxswains Only

Vera Terlouw

Coxswain, Dutch Development Program

Vera Terlouw is a Dutch native and national team hopeful. She hails from one of the most successful countries in our sport. Her coxing experience includes Henley and much of the European circuit with Dutch development and elite level crews. She was attracted to Sparks given her interest in coxing education whereby she has coached coxswains and developed coxswain selection procedures for multiple clubs in Holland. She is an engineer by training and is interested in fluid dynamics. We’re excited to bring an international perspective into a game that can suffer from local bias.

Peter Wiersum

Men’s Olympic Coxswain, Dutch National Team

Peter and the Dutch 8+ won bronze in the 2015 World Championships, ahead of the US Men and in a qualifying slot for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. This will be Peter’s third Olympiad after ’08 in Beijing and ’12 in London. Peter coaches juniors and coxswains in the Netherlands, (and for whatever reason found it beneficial to translate some of Marcus McElhenney’s work for Dutch coxswains!). He is a coxswain with a level of racing experience that less than five coxswains on the planet have enjoyed.

Bill Manning

Assistant Coach, Princeton University

During his tenure the Tiger lightweight 1V has medaled at the Eastern Sprints every year, and it has consistently improved at the IRA National Championship Regatta, including a bronze medal performance in 2016. During the summer of 2016, he coached the bronze medal-winning JW4- at the World Championships. In 2015 he coached the LM2- to a fifth place finish at Worlds, the best performance by the USA in over a decade. That same summer he coached the LM4- to silver and co-coached the bronze medal-winning M8+ at the Pan American Games. The 2014 LM8 was his responsibility. At the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, Manning assisted Charley Butt with the USA M2-, M2x, and LM2x. He helped the M2- to Olympic qualification in 2003. In 2006 and 2007 he directed the U-23 Men's Sculling program.

Katie Lane

Assistant Women's UPenn Coach

Lane recently came to Boathouse Row to join the Women’s Rowing coaching staff at the University of Pennsylvania in August 2017 after spending three years at Fordham University. During her stint with the Rams working under Head Coach Ted Bonanno, she recruited the largest and fastest recruiting classes in program history and helped lead the Rams to their best team performance at the Atlantic 10 Championships (third place in 2016). She was promoted to Associate Head Coach in July 2017. Prior to Fordham, Lane was Head Coach of men’s rowing at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. Under her direction, crews have earned medals at the Head of the Charles Regatta, Dad Vail Regatta, USRowing Club Nationals and championship titles at the New England Rowing Championships. Additionally, Lane graduated from the Institute for Rowing Leadership in 2012 and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Vermont and a M.S. from Fordham University.


Winter Coxswains Only

  • Who:  Open to all, designed for experienced coxswains aged 14-19
  • When:  December 27-30, 2018
  • Cost:  $1,795*; same calendar year and day camper discount codes available. 
  • Where:  Sarasota, FL - Campers are housed at the Comfort Suites and row out of the Sarasota Crew Boathouse. Campers are advised to fly into TPA; contact us to if you need airport transportation.
  • Questions: We'd be glad to speak with you; click on the live chat in the bottom right corner.
  • Supervision:  The staff lives amongst the student athletes, and has oversight 24 hours a day. Unhealthy substances and/or behaviors are strictly prohibited.
  • Payment:  Payments may be made in full through our registration portal by using the table on the registration tab. Feel free to contact us with payment questions.
  • Refunds:  Refunds minus a $500 deposit are available until one month before camp.
  • Camp Forms:  Camp Forms may be found on your dashboard within 6 weeks of camp. 
  • 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.

Winter Coxswains Only


Coxswains, sit ready! Click below to register. 

Are you a same calendar year repeat camper or day camper? Click on the live chat below and get a discount code. 



Winter Coxswains Only

You'll arrive at the hotel and if you haven't yet, notice the warmth of Florida prior to meeting the rest of your cohort - all coxswains. After registration and room assignment, you'll meet your coaching staff and small group leader. 

Then we'll go on the water and you will get a taste of what it is to be able to learn coxing concepts without worrying about the rowers. Your coaches will explain the point of your time in the seat to practice the concepts discussed at camp - not to master them. 

The next few days will be an intense mixture of lectures covering the concepts of steering, organization, and commands followed by water sessions to practice each concept. Full days at camp will all be double water sessions unless the coaching staff decides otherwise. This is followed by lectures and small group activities at night - down time will be precious. 

You'll have your small group to crystallize the learning from each day, and this is a good thing in that the concepts of steering, commands, and organization are very broad insofar as determining your personal style and educating your ability level. 

You'll also have the opportunity most days to meet one on one with coaching and leadership staff at camp in order to ask questions that pertain to your specific performance and objectives. Commands and audio review of elite coxswains by the coxswains themselves is a typically very helpful part of camp for many. Some also appreciate the recruiting information (yes, a limited number of coxswains are recruited every year).

By the end of camp, the goal is for you to have more self-awareness around your skill sets. You need to be able to analyze what you did well and what you need to improve during water sessions with your team back home during the Spring season. 

Camp will end shortly after it begins, but it will seem like a long time given the volume of information you receive. You'll say your goodbyes to the coaches and small group leaders as well as other coxswains you've met and shared learning with at camp to head away with your folks from the hotel or back to the airport. 

Winter Coxswains Only

Coxswains - Why Sparks? 

We've developed an internationally recognized coxswain curriculum in coordiation with American and foreign Olympic coxswains (amongst others, including a number of national team coxswains) and typically see over 100 coxswains through our camp system per year.  

The curriculum at base teaches coxswains to be aware enough of themselves to be able to evaluate current skils and structure expectations for improvment in three critical areas: steering, commands, and organization. This video covers the curriculum as provided at our coxswains only camps, though campers at our collegiate and international camps also use the same curriculum. 


I’m a coxswain and can’t decide between camps - help?

This very much depends on where you are with coxing, your goals, and sometimes your college search.

The collegiate camps have their own coxswain coaching staff and coxswain curriculum off water, but are integrated with the rowing camp on-water and provide no specialized on-water coaching for coxswains.

At our coxswains only camps, the rowers are rented such that the on-water coaching is entirely devoted to the coxswains and this allows an extra amount of intensity and learning. Typical participants have been coxing for more than two seasons and average around three.

Our international coxswain camp in Holland is a much smaller cohort of 6 with the same resources as coxswains only insofar as on-water time being devoted to coxswains; the program also enables coxswains to race in a large European regatta. Students must apply for this camp and show maturity and thoughtfulness.


Do you offer scholarships or discounts?

We can offer day camper discounts for campers not staying in the hotel and discounts for same calendar year repeat camper. Beyond this, we cannot offer discounts that are not open to all due to NCAA regulations.

Touch base with us via the live chat for discount codes. 


What level of experience is necessary for camp?

We typically recommend at least a season of coxing experience for this camp whereas the average is 2-3; novice coxswains should take a look at our collegiate camps. 


Where are camp forms found?

Camp forms are issued at least six weeks prior to camp on our site via your dashboard.


Do you honor rooming requests?

Typically, no - unless in the case of a medical issue. We seek to avoid social cliques at camp. These requests do not allow the camp to meet each camper on an individual level - a level of educational quality we're serious about providing. The requests also unintentionally disable the fun and according growth of meeting new people (everyone feels awkward at the start of camp) and gaining new perspective on the sport. That said, there's plenty of time to hang out and experience camp with one's friends (the ones from before camp) during the day at camp.