The winner of the British Rowing Education Development Coach of the Year Award 2022, Adrian Pogmore, talks to Rachel Egan of Junior Rowing News about how he got into coaching, and the ongoing development of Doncaster Schools’ Rowing Association programme, the junior section of Doncaster RC.
Falling into the sport
Although coaching rowing can easily take up every spare moment of your life, for Adrian, every day is a joy. “I just love coaching,” he smiled, not long into the conversation. “If anybody is considering getting into rowing coaching, do it. That’s the only advice I could ever give. Just do it. It’s incredibly rewarding, whether you are putting somebody on the river for the first time or you are helping guide one of your top crews.
Adrian took the Level 2 Coaching Course and networked his way across the coaching community,
Like many in the rowing community, Adrian fell into coaching by virtue of simply being around the boathouse. “My sister was women’s captain at Doncaster Rowing Club, and she invited my eldest son to come down and have a go,” he explained. “He hadn’t yet found a sport he was especially good at but went down to the river and loved it.” Adrian found himself ferrying his son to training – and waiting around to pick him up afterwards. “The coach at the time was a chap called Dudley Fletcher. He turned to me in 2011 and simply asked whether I’d like to be involved. My background growing up was in athletics, so I thought, why not?”
Together, Dudley and Adrian mapped out a pathway; Adrian took the Level 2 Coaching Course and networked his way across the coaching community, speaking to mentors and veterans up and down the circuit. “Every day is a learning day,” he reflected.
“The look on his face when he realised he could do it was priceless”
A natural fit
A decade later, and with concrete recognition for his work in the form of the British Rowing Award, Adrian’s motivation to coach remains the same as it has always been. “I love the satisfaction on the kids’ faces when they achieve something,” he said. “A few years ago, I had a para rower whom we transitioned from the adaptive boat to the fully-fledged fine single over a number of months. The look on his face when he realised he could do it was priceless.”
His coaching philosophy is simple and weaves in well with the overall ethos at Doncaster Schools’ Rowing Association. Results are an important barometer but the club takes the view that it exist primarily to offer an opportunity to the people of Doncaster. “You wouldn’t typically associate Doncaster with rowing,” said Adrian. “We encounter a little bit of surprise from some people when they make the connection, which I suppose adds fuel to our fire.”
A club on the rise
The club has recorded several promising results over the past few years. Crews have medalled at the Junior Inter-Regional Regattaand the British Junior Championships. The club has also featured regularly at the National Schools’ Regatta and the Henley series. “The club wants to expand,” explained Adrian. “Before COVID, we had around 40 or 50 juniors active at any one time. We lost a lot over the various lockdowns, and it’s us taken time to rebuild – we’re now back around 30 athletes.”
Although the club has rowers competing at the highest level, Adrian wants to expand the breadth and depth that they take to the elite events. That said, individual athlete focus always comes first. “At the end of the day, it is down to the rower. If they want to race at that level, we will support them and try to give them that opportunity. If they don’t and just want to be social rowers, then that’s fine too”.
The changing faces of success
Individual success is just as important as club success to Adrian. Each athlete is there to be developed and some of their individual exploits make for impressive reading. One athlete recently competed at the Home International Regatta, whilst another broke four indoor world records.
Underpinning all of this is a resolute commitment to coaching athletes and crews for their collective betterment, a philosophy that Adrian has enveloped as part of his outlook. “Some juniors turn up at the boathouse with no confidence at all,” he explained. “Within six months, they’re the loudest person in the room – they stand up taller and make themselves known. That’s an incredible reward for any coach and I feel privileged that I get to witness that week in week out”.