Caroline Roberts |

‘They’re learning and that warms my heart’

Shanique Harrison had zero experience of rowing when she started on London Youth Rowing’s Coaching Development Programme, but now she is a passionate ambassador for the sport. She shares her journey with Caroline Roberts

Shanique Harrison is a Programme Coach with London Youth Rowing, a charity that helps young people in disadvantaged areas get active and develop life skills. Always ready to try something new, she’s a shining example of what coaches from a non-rowing background can bring to the sport.

Shanique has always been a sports fanatic and while growing up she participated in football, basketball, gymnastics and trampolining. When she joined the charity in August 2021, she had zero experience of rowing and, after a few training sessions on working with children and coaching basics, she was thrown in at the deep end, quite literally.

“We had an on-water session with a bunch of Year 8s they just said, ‘Jump in with the kids. There’s no way you can coach without experiencing what the kids experience.’”

She now works across eight schools, where she delivers indoor rowing sessions in PE lessons and after-school clubs. Her wide sporting experience is useful in keeping students engaged, she says.

“I like to mix it up with other sports. One example is team relays where they do 100m on the rowing machine, then run and try to put a basketball in the net. It makes it exciting, so they stay interested. I always give them something to aim towards, such as a competition, so it entices them to work a bit harder. Once we get to April, we can get on the water at the docks a bit more, and they get really excited about that.”

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