Brock University is among five Canadian host sites selected for new Rowing Canada hubs aimed at identifying and training up-and-coming national-calibre rowers.
Rowing Canada announced Thursday, Oct. 26 that Brock University, the University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Western University and Trent University have been selected to host the Rowing Canada NextGen Hubs.
Brock Sports Director Neil Lumsden called it a big win for the Badgers rowing program.
“This reflects on the high level of coaching within our program along with our approach to developing our student athletes,” Lumsden said. “It’s a reflection of our rowing program, and Brock Sports as a department.”
Brock head rowing coach Peter Somerwil said it’s also a reflection of the team’s history of producing talented athletes.
“It’s a recognition of Brock rowing’s excellent track record of promoting athletes to the national team level through good coaching, equipment and winter training facilities,” said Somerwil, who pointed out that Brock has sent 17 rowers to the Olympics over the years, and that nearly a quarter of the athletes representing Canada at the 2015 U23 World Championships and FISU Games were Brock athletes.
The NextGen Hubs will provide all-encompassing high-performance services to identify NextGen rowers. Rowing Canada said the Hubs will provide optimal coach-to-athlete ratios, extensive performance planning and enhanced technical coaching capacity. Sport science and sport medicine support will also be embedded within these daily training environments.
The connection between these NextGen Hubs and their local clubs was an integral component in the overall selection process.
“I’m truly excited about the engagement of the rowing community in the process,” said Adam Parfitt, RCA Director, Coach and Athlete Pathways. “They care about Canada’s performance and by putting their hands up, they want to share in the responsibility and process of finding and training our next Olympians.”
The NextGen Hubs are part of a wider strategy that both replaces and builds on the learning and work done in the Row to Podium programs. Establishing these partnerships is a significant step forward in the overall Rowing Canada NextGen Athlete Strategy. This strategy focuses on enhanced programming at a targeted stage in the athlete development pathway. Talent identification programming will be conducted within the NextGen program through partnerships with provincial sport organizations, clubs, schools and institutions.
Mike Purcer, Technical Specialist for Brock’s rowing program, said Niagara has one of the largest concentrations of rowing clubs in the country, which will benefit with events such as monthly training camps.
“As a Rowing Canada Hub Training Centre, high-performance coaches and athletes will have an opportunity to connect to a national team pathway,” Purcer said. “Top club, university and high school athletes will become familiar with the training, technique and learning required to achieve the next level.”
NextGen Hubs were evaluated and selected based on an objective criteria and extensive application process. These environments currently have existing targeted Olympic and Paralympic athletes, embedded coaching support, access to elite training facilities and Sport Science and Sport Medicine programming.
Rowing Canada and NextGen Hubs will be forming one management committee to co-ordinate the overall development and strategic direction of the Hub programming. One of the first tasks will be to assist in the hiring of the Hub coaches.
“The additional coaching expertise that will be part of being a NextGen Hub will help athletes with more personal, one-on-one coaching,” Somerwil said. “It will help athletes and the program keep abreast of the evolving best practices in physiological testing, training methods and procedures for trying out for the national team.”
Lumsden said being named as one of the hubs will help with Brock’s recruiting efforts.
“We become more attractive to student-athlete rowers who want to compete at a high level and advance their careers beyond varsity rowing to potentially represent their country,” he said.