After his time at Yale University, Coach Pat Tynan came to Wesleyan in the 2009-10 season and has spent almost nine years at the helm of the women’s crew program. Nine years is not long-term in comparison to many other experienced coaches at Wesleyan; however, Tynan has made the most of it by leading Wesleyan to success at a national level with great speed, helping aid the emergence of star players like Rachelle Flowers ’19, who will be joining the US national team in the World University Championships.
For many rowers, be it current or former, Tynan is the man who has always been there to help them survive the four-month roller coaster of relentlessness, blood, thunder, sweat, and tears, all of which can happen in the treacherous weather of New England. As the team finally received a break after claiming the Little Three title for the second consecutive year, Tynan sat down with The Argus to talk about his coaching philosophies, his relationship with his athletes, as well as the key to excelling at his job.
The Argus: To start with, is there anything that you would like to share about the aim you set for the team this season?
Pat Tynan: As always, the aim of the team is to create an environment where our student-athletes can train and compete at the highest level. That hopefully leads to winning some races along the way but I think that when we’re able to get a group of people to support each other, invest all of the time and energy into what we’re doing, and continue to make progress that’s a pretty awesome feat—results aside. But we do want to, ultimately, is prepare to win races.
A: It is very impressive that the team has been able to maintain the momentum in last fall and brought its performance up to an even higher level. Your team is currently ranked No. 2 in the USRowing/CRCA Coaches’ Polls. Just how satisfied are you with the team’s performance so far?
PT: We’re never really satisfied. That’s why we keep doing the amount of work we do. I think the team is less satisfied than I am, which is a great recipe. They keep asking what else they can do. As a coach, I feel so grateful to be able to work with athletes like that.
A: Having finally received a break in your fixture, what kind of arrangements have you made for the athletes in order to prepare for the next event?
PT: We were able to put in a lot of intensive training this past week because we didn’t have to prepare for a race this past weekend. We’ll keep doing what we’re doing, technically, but just try to sharpen that up and do it a little better. We know that we’ll see a lot of really good teams over the next two weeks. Our athletes know that, even though we’re racing well and continue to make progress, so is much of our competition. At this point, I know that our team likes to race so the best thing I can do is kind of stay out of the way and let them do their thing.
A: Many players have expressed gratitude to your professionalism and consideration for them. What has been the key to your success in this job?
PT: That’s really nice to hear. Obviously, rowing is a huge part of what these women are doing at Wesleyan but it’s not the only thing. I think that being able to adapt to how this generation of athletes responds is key. They want structure. They want to be pushed and be held accountable but they also want to know and understand the bigger picture. Having a great assistant coach is also key. Now having young kids myself has really helped to keep things in perspective for me. I don’t lose my patience with athletes like I used to. I also try to keep learning and keep getting better at what I do. I don’t always get it right and certainly make mistakes but if I’m going to ask the women on the team to make changes and improve then I need to continue to do the same.
A: Finally, just for the banter, we have the same question for you as for your athletes. What is a fun fact of the team that you would like to share?
PT: They like birthdays. They really like birthdays. They always acknowledge someone’s birthday and sing happy birthday at practice. They also have an Instagram page where they post the meals they cook.
Henry Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.