Coach’s Corner: Victoria McGee

Coach Victoria McGee began her role as the new Head Coach of Rowing last spring, when the sport was first introduced to the Hotchkiss community. During the day, Coach McGee can be found in Harris House conducting interviews for prospective students or in the Library working at the Circulation Desk. Having spent the past spring learning the basics of rowing, the team is prepared to compete for the first time this year. Having previously rowed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and then coaching at Duke, Coach McGee is looking forward to building an established and competitive program in the years to come. Nani Veluchamy ’22 said, “She is a really good coach and very passionate about the sport. On her first day she was very welcoming and made me appreciate rowing even more.”

What are some goals for the team this year?
[One] goal for the year is to actually race, which we are doing in three days [and] which we are super-pumped about. [Also,] I think getting the team to a more sustained level, coming off of our first spring. It was just a lot of learning, [and] it will still be a lot of learning, [but hopefully] the next level of that.
How will club rowing prepare athletes for the spring season?
[Club rowing] is a lot of time on the water, a lot of time taking strokes and being in the boat, not as much, necessarily, physical training. So it’s a little bit of a break from [physical training] and just taking advantage of not having a frozen lake.
What was the biggest change in your transition from coaching at Duke to Hotchkiss?
[The biggest change] is really just my role going from an assistant coach to a head coach, but the interactions with the players are the same. You have to adapt your approach to each athlete anyways. Everyone at the end of the day just wants to belong to something, so if you make someone feel like they belong to the program, then you know that they are willing to work hard…and take risks to grow as an athlete. But I think the bigger changes have come more [from]having to handle all the different ins and outs of running a program versus just relying on a head coach to tell me what to do.
Why did you decide to come to Hotchkiss?
[Coming to Hotchkiss] was an opportunity. Just reading the job description and talking to the people here got me really excited. It seem[ed] like it would be a good fit for my coaching philosophy and who I am as a person. I wanted to see what we could build here.
What has been your favorite coaching moment so far?
I think [my favorite coaching moment] was last spring when everyone rowed by all eight for the first time or the first day we were on the water last spring. Just seeing some of the expressions on everyone’s faces of being so happy. That was a good moment. I [also] got thrown into the [lake] last spring. I don’t know if that was my favorite moment, but it was a good moment.
How did you get into coaching crew?
After I graduated college, I knew from [that] moment that I wanted to coach rowing or just be involved with the sport. I was an exercise and sport science major and I did some research in coaching, and [eventually] I got my coaching minor. So, as soon as I graduated, I started coaching just as a volunteer to get some real experience, and then I moved [up] the ranks while I was at Duke, and then I came here.
What do you foresee will be the biggest challenge this season?
[A challenge will be] helping those athletes who were a part of the team last spring take it to the next level of being competitive, but still having that growth mindset.
How do you integrate new rowers into the team?
Well, part of [integrating new rowers] is in the way we set up practices and having sort of a mixed lineup. [We will have] some new athletes with some returning athletes, but I like to think of it as just one big program, sometimes it’s just separate practices. I encourage all of them to eat dinners together and hang out outside of practice, kind of what you guys joke about as the rowing cult for them. [It is important] for everyone to just bring everyone into the family.
What is your advice for students who are looking to start rowing?
Come talk to me or one of the other returning rowers. If you want to work hard and you want to try it out, let’s have a conversation, and let’s see if this could be for you.