High School Rowing


Since 2003, GRS has been running an Independent High School Rowing Program for students who are in high school and attend a school which does not have a rowing team, and who have completed some previous rowing (either competitive or a Learn To Row) and who want to compete in scholastic rowing.  If you have no rowing experience, please refer to the Learn To Row paragraph at the end. 

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 The purpose of this page is to provide you with some information regarding the details of this program.  Please read the entire article carefully. Our schedule of competitions is HERE.

2015 was the first year that we were based at Hines Rowing Center in Conshohocken. For those of you who do not know me, I am Jamie Gordon.  I am currently a member of Vesper Boat Club, and I am an official coach at Whitmarsh Boat Club.  I give private rowing lessons at both clubs, and I run my own business repairing racing shells.  I have taken the USRA Level III coaching certification, and I have been teaching rowing since 1979. 2003 was the first year I ran the Independent program and it was a great success with eleven students competing from five high schools.  Last year we had 39 participants from nine schools and 5 coaches.  Previously I was head coach of Temple University's Women's Crew, an NCAA Division-I rowing team.  I have also coached at Colgate, Purdue, Mount Holyoke College, and my alma mater, Yale.  I have been a coach and administrator at The Craftsbury Sculling Center, The Florida Rowing Center (Director), and The Schuylkill River Development Council (Director of Rowing).  For twelve years I was the equipment manager and assistant manager at Bachelors Barge Club. As a rower, I have eight National Championships from High School through college and beyond.

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Safety is the most important facet of my job.  This program will be happening on a very crowded river, so discipline is crucial.  All aspects of safety will be drilled into the students heads before they ever get into a boat.  Students will be required to sign an athletes contract.  This will cover safety details, behavior, attitude, logistics and other commitments to the program. Also included, is the requirement to sign the Hines Rowing Center Code of Conduct, which is available when the athletes sign up on Regatta Central. New in 2015 is  USRowing’s requirement for all USRowing organizational members to adopt an athlete safety program.  We are following USRowing’s recommendation and are using the US Olympic Committee’s SafeSport program as our template.  You can look at USRowing’ adaptation of that policy by following this link.  GRS will be adapting this program to our organization through 2015.

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My performance goals for the program are based on my conviction that sport is an excellent way for young people to learn about themselves.  The rigid discipline and work ethic needed to prepare to compete in any sport is a form of learning not covered in the classroom.  Mastering physical skills and finding what it takes to be an athlete fosters maturity in youngsters.  My job is to put them in an atmosphere where they can safely push themselves to find their potential.  The emphasis will be on hard work, realistic expectations, and constant improvement.  Of course, kids want to row because it is fun.  I will add this;  Rowing is fun, but rowing well, going fast, and competing are even more fun.

Here is some information about High School rowing in the Philadelphia area.  The Philadelphia Scholastic Rowing Association (PSRA) is the governing body for most of the races in which the program will participate.  The rules of eligibility for the PSRA require that each child compete for the High School that they attend.  If you are the only one from your high school, you will be competing in a single for the spring races.

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Each student from a non-rowing high school who wishes to row in the spring season must have the acknowledgment of their High School Athletic Director or Principal.  To allow the student represent the school, the administration must certify that each student from that school is in good standing at the school and what grade they are in.  This takes the form of a letter, on school letterhead, to the director of the PSRA.  If you decide to join the program, I will help you obtain this letter.

Even though the students will be competing as individuals, and under the name of their schools, they will be part of a squad that contains students from many other schools.  Though most of them will not be able to race in the same boats, all of the members of the squad will be required to consider each other as teammates, regardless of their school.

The program fee covers the different aspects of the costs of the program. The fee covers all of the costs of running the program, including costs like my and my assistant's salary, membership fees for the PSRA, boat rentals and maintenance, regatta entry fees, and boat transportation.  It will also cover membership to the clubs that will provide facilities, and insurance for the program. This year the program fee is $2400. In addition to the program fee, there is an equipment fee of $400 to cover the debt service on the $150K of equipment which I purchased in 2015 to enable us to run the program independent of the support of a rowing club. The total of fees is $2800

Although the total fee is due on the first day of the program, most parents elect to pay the total fee in installments.  This year I will ask for a $500 deposit to reserve your space due by the end of December prior to the start of the program, a second $500 deposit due before the end of January prior to the start of the program, and four additional payments over the course of the season to pay off the balance.  The prefered schedule for paying off the balance would be: $500 due the first day of the program; $500 due the third Friday in March  $500 the second Friday in April, and $300 due the first Friday in May.  If you need to pay in different installments, please contact me directly.  Please also remember that members of the program who are in high school can only use the boathouse and equipment during supervised official practice times.  Anyone who may need financial assistance is required to contact me directly.  We have a limited number of discounted program fees available to qualified students.

Any school which is represented in our program by four or more students requires an Umbrella Organizational Membership to USRowing.  This is a $350 fee for each of those schools, which is shared by all of the families from that school.  If there are three or fewer students from your school in the program, you will each need an individual membership to USRowing.  The individual memberships are in lieu of the $350 organizational membership for a school with three or fewer students.  These memberships are available directly from USRowing via their web site or by phone at 1-800-314-4769.

The costs not covered in the above fees include:

  • Uniforms; Individuals can wear whatever they like during races, but team boats must have matching shirts.  
  • Other workout clothing; all practices will be outside during Feb. through May in all kinds of weather.  Dress appropriately.
  • Food on race days;  Most students will have only one race per regatta, however, later season races will have morning heats and afternoon finals, requiring the student to be at the boathouse for long periods on some race days.  A bag lunch and snacks are the best solution.  Most parents choose to tailgate at the regattas during the race days.
  • Transportation to and from practice and races.

If you are interested in participating in this program, please sit down and go through the requested information below.  Practice will be six days per week, and once races start, five days per week with the sixth day being a race day.  Most of the races happen on Sundays.  The usual off day will be Monday, however, on some weeks, depending on vacation schedules or regattas, we may practice on a Monday and take another day off.  Practice time will be the same as it has been for the last several years, start time at 4:30PM sharp going until 6:45ish, Tuesday through Friday, with a practice on Saturday from TBD.

I will determine who will be invited to join the program based on the following criteria: 

  • First; all returning students who are fully paid from last year are automatically invited. 
  • Second; students who have taken a LTR program in the summer of fall of the previous year will be invited. 
  • Third; prospective students who have other rowing experience will be considered. 
  • Fourth; if there is room, students with no rowing experience may be invited with the stipulation that they MUST complete a pre-season Learn To Row program described below. 

If you are interested in participating in this program, please email me the following information:

  1. That you are interested
  2. The name of your High School, and year in school
  3. How you will be getting to the boathouse and what is the earliest time that you can arrive after school based on safe driving and taking into account rush hour traffic
  4. A quick summary of your rowing experience
  5. Email addresses for student AND Parent.

Please email this information ASAP to me at: jamie@gordonrowingservices.com

I will email out invitations to new students in December, and, at that time, will request a $500 deposit to reserve your spot.  Please do not send anything until you have been invited.  

Learn To Row:  Rowing experience is required for this program.  Our program has a limit to how many students we can effectively serve.  If we are close to that limit, we reserve the right to decline to invite students with little or no rowing experience.  If the numbers allow us to take students with no rowing experience, those who are invited will be required to take a Pre-Season Learn To Row course at Vesper.  This course will meet during the two week prior to the start of the spring program at the usual practice times.   To be eligible for the Spring program, each student will need to make at least six of these classes.  The cost for this Learn To Row is $250.

Safe Sport Certification: PA State clearances are on file for all coaches and are provided to Vesper Boat Club and The Hines Rowing Center. If you have any questions about any of our employees or need information about our clearances, please feel free to email Jamie at: jamie@gordonrowingservices.com

Please call me with any questions at 215 850-4570.  I look forward to hearing from you.


Jamie Gordon


© James A. Gordon 2013 Logo ™ Nicole Gordon © 2013