Steve Hargis & US Junior Sculling

By Sparks Editorial Staff | January 7, 2012

"We're not looking for scullers; we're looking for rowers. We want to reengineer what it means to be a rower."

United States Sculling is evolving at the junior level, and Steve Hargis is at the forefront of this transformation. In the past junior rowing has really revolved around sweep rowing, says Hargis, the Head Development Coach of the US Junior National Team. "There are a number of reasons for this. For one, most coaches still aren't comfortable with sculling because they are products of a college system that focuses entirely on the eight. Perhaps more importantly, when coaches are finite, the best way to get as many kids on the water at once is in an eight."

Hargis and his team at USRowing are working hard to deconstruct stigmas and hurdles that have inhibited the development of junior rowers in the United States. In particular, there have been major efforts to devote as much time to coaching education as has been devoted to athlete development to get coaches up to speed.

"We want any rower to be able to row in any seat, scull or sweep, port or starboard…"

When working with elite junior rowers, Hargis explains, "We're not looking for scullers; we're looking for rowers. We want to reengineer what it means to be a rower." Hargis believes that being exposed to sculling earlier can create more opportunities for young rowers, making them more diverse, more adaptable, and ultimately more efficient on the water. "Any seat, any time," is the credo of the Junior Coach. "We want any rower to be able to row in any seat, scull or sweep, port or starboard. That's how we can make the fastest boats possible that can compete on the international scene." Still, Hargis echoes the point that "it's not about medals so much as it's about rowing competency."

The definitive metric for the advancement of US Sculling is in the numbers. Of the 16 young ladies who competed in the Junior Eight, Junior Four, and Junior Quad this summer, 9 had competitive race experience as scullers. "Ultimately, we'd like that to be 16 out of 16, every summer… any seat, any time."

There are a number of opportunities for young rowers to get involved with sculling at an early point in their careers, ranging from introductory and development camps, up through a more competitive selection camp for the Junior USA Quad. More information about these opportunities can be found at www.usrowingjrs.org.

- Andy Schneider