Tom Guncik is one of the latest additions to Riverside. The new men’s sweeps coach brings with him years of experience coaching collegiate rowers, and an exciting vision for the future of the men’s team. In her final job for the Communications Committee, Amanda Milad Cox checked in with Tom about rowing, coaching and how he came to Riverside.
How did you first get into rowing?
I learned to row as a freshman at Ohio State University. I had never heard of or seen rowing, but I followed my roommate to the crew meeting — thinking it was a fancy name for a debate team or stage crew — because they offered pizza and it might have been a way to make the largest university in the country feel smaller. Rowing that first year gave me a year’s worth of new athletic experiences along with supportive teammates, both of which helped me grow up and handle the stress of figuring out who I was.
I started coaching the freshmen while I was finishing my senior year at Ohio State, and got my first legitimate coaching job in 2008, a year after I graduated. At the time I was driving 30 minutes every day to a desk job in the suburbs of Columbus Ohio, and gas was $4.19 a gallon.
Then my former coach at Ohio State told me was he he was just named the head coach at Bates College, that the season started in a week and he was wondering if I was available. The chance to have a 10 month paid vacation in Maine seemed like a good alternative to what I was doing in Columbus.
10 months turned into three years at Bates as the men’s assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, and then I coached at George Washington University for six years.
As the new men’s sweeps coach, what are your goals for the team?
My short-term goal is to understand how the team and the club itself operate and to find areas where my experience can leave a positive impact. My long-term goal is to promote the team’s vision of providing a high quality, welcoming, and fun home for rowers who want to continue to train, develop boat skills and compete after college.
If you could coach any rower, dead or alive, who would it be?
When I lived in DC we weren’t allowed access to the boathouse one day because Michelle Obama took a sculling lesson. Coaching her would have been pretty cool.
How did you end up at Riverside?
After nine years of coaching in college, I wanted to see a different side of competitive rowing. I’d heard from a colleague about the position being open and had a meeting with Mike Farry and Graeme Calloway. I was intrigued by the character of the team and the competitive goals that the captains laid out.
How would you describe your rowing philosophy?
My philosophy is simple: when people I’ve coached look back on their time with the sport, I want them to be able to say that the experience created a positive development in some aspect of their lives.