Every successful team has a guiding force driving them over the line and after the recent GPS State Rowing Championships saw them dominate the meet and take home two gold and a silver, coach Andy Clatworthy has shiny new reasons to be proud.

Last month, West End Magazine featured a story on the Under 17s youth development high performance rowing squad who were in preparation for their upcoming GPS championship held at Wyaralong Dam, taking in a nutritional cooking lesson to give them an edge over their competitors. It seems Andy was an ideas man on this, the West End local and coach who found his just desserts in the shining medals his boys brought back to the West End club last week.

“About seven months ago I set out with a view of coaching athletes with a holistic approach to their training versus just coaching rowing,” explains Andy. “I want to develop an athlete who can train in any sport at top level and apply the skills I haveve coached. The aim is to develop a culture to training which involves understanding food, training loads, strength and conditioning and flexibility. The last few months have all been about planting the seeds which will pay off in the long run for the boys.”

Together with three bronzes in the Under 19s team, the Under 17s won the Double Sculls, Single Scull and placed second in the Quad Sculls each stretching for a 2000m finishing line through rounds of heats and finals. Not an easy feat at all. While these young athletes bask in their success, the coach shines as a beacon of discipline, a mentor who encouraged these boys to exhaust themselves to the limit even during training sessions six days a week. Andy provides the motivation to persevere beyond their limitations.

“I ask my crews to go out and give me their all. So as a coach I have taken that same approach. I commit to the squad and when I show up to training I want to do my best, motivate my crews to perform and go even faster,” admits Andy. “The boys also have great parents who buy into the training, want to be involved and do not pressure their sons instead allow them to take ownership for their own performance and training. Early on I worked my tail off to earn their trust, took time to get to know each of the boys and their parents, I explained my decisions and I took the view that I wanted to coach a squad long term versus just for a season. If there was something we could not do or if I changed a crew around I had the tough conversations and was honest.”

A former schoolboy rower for Brisbane State High School, now an Associate Private Banker, Andy picked the oars back up again at 30 for leisure joining the Brisbane and GPS Rowing Club’s Learn To Row program and within a few months was asked by the club to be their Transitional Rowing Coach. He now coaches the club’s Youth Development U17 and U19 Squads and BSHS’s Boys’ first VIII and Year 10 first Quads.

“For my first season as the Transitional Rowing Coach I had a record number of new members join the club, we raced in the Winter Season, at Rowing QLD Regattas and I took the approach that once you were in the door I was going to find a way to get you on the water as much as possible. I just throw myself into the role and was on a mission.”

Words by Kirk W. Wallace