WBC coach Art Post on masters rowing
We’re about to celebrate the one year anniversary of the addition of Arthur Post to the WBC coaching staff. Art is a well-known figure in the Philadelphia rowing community. An accomplished rower himself, winning multiple National Championships, Art is also bringing up the next generation of elite rowers through coaching the boys at Malvern Prep for nearly two decades.
Art, tell us a little about your rowing experiences. You still actively row and compete.
When you row a single, you row. Going out to row in an eight is more social. I row my single as often as I can, usually in Conshohocken, although when I was in England last spring for Henley I rowed one just about every day on the Thames. I row team boats on Boat House Row. It’s nice down there. I’ve been a member of University Barge Club for the past few years and have been a member of Vesper since two days after college. In fact, I lived upstairs in the Vesper boat house when I was young and shiftless. It’s kind of like the home you moved out of but keep ties to.
I like to practice in a single but usually compete in a quad or eight with UBC or Vesper. The idea of putting my single on a car and driving somewhere to see how well I’m going to do….. I have enough competition under my belt with coaching that I don’t really need that. It’s a lot more fun and a lot less pressure to row in a group situation. I rowed in singles at the national team trials and Olympic trials. I don’t feel the need to do that anymore.
What’s the biggest difference between coaching adults and coaching kids?
When you’re coaching kids, you’re trying to get them to row better and fix them. I’ve coached boys, and they’re physically able to do a lot and change a lot with ease, but they have to get over the hurdle of what their minds believe they’re doing or not doing, or how they’re interpreting what you’re saying. For example, when I say to the boys, “push your hands down more,” they won’t do it because they assume someone else is doing something wrong.
With masters, the attitudes are much easier to deal with and the desire to row well is there. But, it is hard to overcome the fact that we’re not 17 anymore, and I find this myself when I’m rowing. Even rowers who rowed in high school or college aren’t what they once were, and in fact it can be hard to tell who rowed in college and who learned as an adult, sometimes. It’s also not all about how good a listener or how coachable you are, it’s also whether your body still has the flexibility to make changes. Our bodies aren’t as responsive as they used to be, so it takes continued focus and repeated good quality strokes to overcome that.
That’s a little depressing <laughing>. So, how shall we compensate for our inflexible bodies?
Repetition. One of best things masters rowers are able to do is find a partner or three others to row a quad a few times a week, so you feel like over a couple of months you get progressively better. When you start practicing in April, some people have no miles; some have some, so you’re always starting every practice from square one. Typically with a team, you start working together and get better going for a goal. If you put together a boat eight days before a race, you constantly have to adjust to the new lineup. You hope to get better and better, but don’t get the right kind of feedback because you’re constantly adjusting or getting better at different rates. You need to row with the same people as much as possible.
What’s your advice for staying positive if we have a row that isn’t perfect?
Don’t take it so seriously that you’re frustrated when it is not perfect. Just try to get better each time. You have to enjoy every opportunity! At the end of a practice, you hope you can turn to people in the boat and say, that was a good row, we had some really good strokes in there.
How have you come to like your time at Whitemarsh?
I really enjoy it. It is interesting to be a part of the club – it is a very positive place. [At Malvern] we’ve built the new Conshohocken Rowing Center upriver, and that will have some community activities, and seeing the things going on at WBC is a model that helps me to be able to contribute to wherever that takes us. Coaching at WBC is different than coaching the kids, or under 23s or Maccabi teams that I’ve coached. It keeps coaching fresh for me.
What do you do when you’re not on the river?
I’ve had a number of careers, including being a high school teacher, to running restaurants and hotels. Over the last two decades I’ve owned a small business where I work with people to have more healthy lives through nutrition, preventative health, supplements and weight loss. Having been in the restaurant business, I love eating, so it’s good I’m focused on coaching people in weight control because I’d happily eat too much rich food! I have a group of friends and we get together to do wine tastings and have fun with that. Although I don’t like the term, I am a bit of a wine snob. But learning about wine is much more about the conversation than the drinking. I also enjoy live music, and travel to a good number of concerts. Also pro football.
Did your kids follow in your rowing footsteps?
Eventually. My son played baseball at Connestoga, but wasn’t interested in rowing. He went to engineering school in Boston and took up rowing after a year. In no time, he was stroking the novice and then the varsity boat. By the time he graduated, he was the best in his group. My daughter rowed in high school, where she was one of the best rowers, and then at Cornell on the varsity boat for most of her four years. She competed internationally at Henley and the Maccabi games, winning the gold in the single, double, pair and quad.
Why do you love rowing?
Rowing a great sport because people go out to work hard together and put aside their egos to meet a common goal. It’s that simple.