Rowing coach named one of nation’s best

December 1, 2023 BY

Pride: Jamie McDonald with rowers Katie Jackson and Lucy Richardson after winning bronze at the 2023 World Under-19 World Championships at Vaires-sur-Marne Nautical Stadium in Paris. Photo: SUPPLIED

WENDOUREE-Ballarat Rowing Club is celebrating after one of their own received a top Rowing Australia honour.

Jamie McDonald was named Pathways Coach of the Year at the national sporting body’s Hancock Prospecting Rower of the Year Awards in Canberra last month.

McDonald is the coach of World Rowing under-19 bronze medal crew Katie Jackson and Lucy Richardson.

“I was amazed,” he said. “The people I was up against are legends in the sport, they’re coaches I look up to, and have been in awe of what they’ve achieved.

“To be recognised as being equal to them, and to receive the award from the Governor General, was a big deal.”

On this year’s Australian national junior team, McDonald was the only coach who wasn’t working full time as a paid academy or club coach.

He said his and the crew’s success comes down to the team of three having strong focus and an awareness of each essential role they play.

“We really approach it incredibly professionally,” he said. “Katie and Lucy understand their role, I understand mine as a coach, and we each individually have to be bring our absolute best to the pair.

“I was not rowing it, Katie and Lucy did the amazing rowing, but I could guide.

“I could have that technical view and set the training program while working with Rowing Australia and Rowing Victoria, with the amazing support of the village around me at Wendouree-Ballarat Rowing Club.”

McDonald said he aims to set realistic goals, and map out a pathway to them with milestones for the crew to reach along the way.

“It’s about identifying if we have the ability as a team, and then guiding them by setting a program and providing that technical coaching,” he said.

“It’s being able to take a crew to compete against the rest of the world, and with Katie and Lucy, our first goal was to be best pair in Ballarat, then amongst the fastest junior crews in Victoria, and so on.”

McDonald rowed seriously for years, became a coach in the 1990s, and said he still loves doing it.

“It’s been rewarding,” he said. “I enjoy the partnership with the athletes, and you learn from them.

“It challenges and adapts me.”

Making the national team last season created pathways not only for the rowers, but for him as a coach.

“I absolutely have improved and developed immensely,” he said.

“Being linked in with Rowing Australia, and the sports scientists and head coaches there has opened a door, and the knowledge they’ve shared has been incredible.

“I’ve been able to see this high-performing team at work, and I notice it in my own coaching.”

Nominees for the pathways coach category have generally demonstrated skill and expertise in helping their crew make the national team, and medalling.