|Phil Carney, head
men's crew coach, stands near the Connecticut River where the team practices
Crew Coach Celebrates 20 Years at Wesleyan
|Q: Phil, when did
you first pick up an oar?
A: I started rowing in the spring of 1978, at St John's High School in
Shrewsbury, Mass. I was introduced to the sport by my friends from the
school soccer team that I played on in the fall.
Q: You've been at Wesleyan for quite sometime. What keeps it interesting?
A: The upcoming year will be my 20th at Wesleyan, and it has gone by very
quickly! The job is different every year as we strive to continually improve
the program, but the main factor that keeps it interesting is the wide
variety of bright, energetic, talented students that keep coming to
Q: The men's crew season ended in early May. Briefly recap the 2006 season.
A: We had a great season, and the record of our varsity eight was 9-3. The
overall strength and depth of the squad can best be seen by looking at their
outstanding day of races at the New England Championships. There, our first
eight was 4th, our second eight took 3rd, our third eight placed 2nd, and
our novice four also placed 2nd. A bit confusing, but overall this was a
terrific day for the squad, placing us among the best programs in the
region, and really good performances from all the crews.
Q: Who were your leading student-athletes and how does the roster look for
A: Our only senior was Nathan Boon, who was a co-captain and a four-year
member of our varsity eight. He had a great year, and we will miss him a
great deal next year. Our additional returnees from last yearís crew are
co-captain Matt Carey, Chris Cody and Jeremy Brown, who all had strong
years. Kim Davies, Tom Volgenau and Alpay Koralturk moved up from our 2nd
and 3rd varsity crews last year to make the first boat. Doug Cody, and Brian
Studwell were two outstanding freshmen members of the first varsity as well.
Q: When does the men's crew season begin and how do the athletes work to
keep in shape year-round? Any lessons that you stress off-season?
A: We are on the water from Sept ≠ November and again from Feb ≠ May. In the
off season, the guys follow a training program without coaches through the
winter. The new erg room and addition to the freeman center have been a huge
help to our team. The most important things through the winter that make us
competitive in the spring are consistency in your training, and a strong
commitment to your team. Doing the work without the coaching staff present
can be difficult for some, but when the guys take ownership of the program
in the winter time, we are a better squad in the end.
Q: Over your time here, what have been some of your or your teamís most
A: We have had some really great crews here over the years, and it is hard
to pick, but some of the most fun races we have had include winning the New
Englands in 2004, some outstanding races over the years at the ECAC
Championships including this years qualifying race where we made it into the
top levels by less than 0.1 second in front of Orange Coast College, some
great races at the Royal Henley Regatta in England. We have earned medals at
all the Head Races in the fall over the years as well.
Q: Where did you attend college? When did you decide to become a coach?
A: I went to Trinity College and majored in religion. I started coaching
immediately after graduation, and thought I would teach in a prep school and
coach as well. I enjoyed coaching a great deal, got a great job here, and
stuck with it.
Q: I understand that youíve won several medals at the USRA Nationals as a
member of the Pioneer Valley Rowing Association and have been a U.S. Rowing
lightweight development coach in both 1988 and 1992. Aside from Wesleyan,
where else have you coached?
A: I have coached at Trinity, Pioneer Valley, Thames River Sculls,
Craftsbury Sculling Center in Vermont, Riverfront Recapture in Hartford, and
for the Middletown Park and Recreation Department.
Q: Tell me more about the Riverfront Recapture Rowing Club, of which you
found in 1993.
A: The Riverfront Recapture is a community rowing program serving the
Hartford area. The program has grown tremendously. They now have a terrific
boathouse in the North Meadows area of Hartford, and they serve the greater
Hartford area. All of the public high schools in the city have rowing teams
now through RRI as well. It has been a huge success there. I have been
involved only periodically lately, but I will be coaching at a youth camp
there later this month.
Q: Middletown has its own Parks and Recreation Department Crew Program. What
is your role with this and where does the team compete?
A: I coached there for about three years, but ran out of time when my kids
arrived! It was a blast, and we had about 100 people in the program by the
end. It continues to exist in the summertime, and they compete in the Head
of the Connecticut in the fall. We went to the Head of the Charles a couple
of times as well, along with some local summer races.
Q: Your assistant coach, Kevin MacDermott í02, was captain of the menís crew
during his senior year here at Wes. What influence does he have on the
A: Kevin has been with the team for the past nine years, as an undergraduate
and coach, and has been an instrumental part of our recent successes. This
year especially, we have worked well as a team, co-coaching all the athletes
on the squad. With his more recent undergraduate experience, he has had a
real personal connection with a lot of the guys. He is bright, hard working
and committed to the athletes and our success. I think he is on the road to
an outstanding career as a coach.
Q: What classes have you taught as an adjunct professor of physical
A: I now teach sculling on the water in the fall, and Rowing for Fitness
indoors in the wintertime. I have previously been a squash instructor as
Q: Where are you from originally? Do you have family in the area?
A: I grew up in Worcester, Mass. and presently I live in Deep River with my
wife Sarah and our twins Jack and Isabel who are 3 years old. Sarah will be
a visiting professor in the Psychology Department next year. Some of my
family is still in Worcester, and my in-laws now live about five miles away
from us in Essex.
Q: What are your hobbies and interests? Any plans for the summer?
A: The summer time is here, and finally there is some time to consider this
question! I spend as much time as I can with Sarah, Jack and Isabel. The
children are growing fast and time passing quickly. We do a lot of work on
the house and yard, go for the occasional run, head for the beaches or a
hike. I enjoy golfing a great deal, as well, but havenít played much lately.
This summer, we will likely head off for a weekend or two, to Cape Cod or
even Sesame Place, but no big plans.
Q: What are your thoughts on working at Wesleyan?
A: It has been a great experience and opportunity for me to work at Wesleyan
with the outstanding student-athletes and coaches. I think that coaching
really exposes one to many people on campus, and in each interaction, be it
Admissions, Development, Public Safety or an academic department. I am
constantly reminded what an amazing collection of people live and work here.
I am proud to be a part of this center for excellence, and Iím working hard
to keep our program at the high standard of the university.
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection