Leadership and a Career in Rowing

Introducing Amelia Connolly – Level 2 Coach at St Hilda’s and coordinator for Year 8

Q: What school did you row for?

A: I rowed for St Hilda’s School, Southport from year 8 in 2014 through to year 12.

Q: Do you still row?

A: I don’t row competitively anymore. Following my graduation in 2018 I wanted to see what it was like on the other side of the quad as a coach, and I now understand why so many students come back as coaches.

Q: What year did you graduate?

A: I graduated from St Hilda’s in 2018 after commencing as a pre-prep student in 2005.

Q: Why did you start coaching?

A: I started coaching in 2019 to stay connected with a sport I love, and which has brought me so much joy, and to give back to the St Hilda’s rowing community who nurtured my love of rowing and helped develop my confidence and shape me as an individual. As the years have progressed, I have gained immense enjoyment from helping young girls develop their full potential as rowers. An opportunity to make a difference and see first-hand the impact I’m able to have, and the chance to give back is what keeps me coming back every season and is the reason I started coaching.

Q: What do you like about coaching?

A: Watching the progression of the girls I coach from day one to the last day of each season, and seeing how far they have come, not just as athletes, but confident young individuals over that period is what really makes those cold winter mornings worthwhile. I have found coordinating year 8 this season especially rewarding – watching their journey unfold from apprehensively walking into the sheds on that first day, to encouraging them through their first 2km erg trial.

Q: What did you think of the level 1 accreditation?

A: I found the level one accreditation course to be a great starting point for beginner coaches in developing skills and coaching methods, as well as the opportunity to be updated regarding Rowing Australia technical models. The course was also available online, so I was able to access the information anywhere and at any time.

Q: What motivated you to do the level 2 coaching accreditation?

A: I did my level 2 coaching course back in 2020 to enhance my knowledge and skills, particularly in rigging boats as that was an area I wasn’t overly confident with, and wanted to learn how to rig appropriately for the size, strength, and ability of the rower to ensure she was comfortable and able to row an efficient and effective stroke.

Q: Do you see a future for yourself as a coach? If yes, what does that future look like?

A: Very much so, I would love the opportunity to advance to a Coordinator or Directors’ role. I want to be able to continue helping girls fulfil their potential in what is such a wonderful team sport, whether that be making the first quad or the first eight, or in pathways to representing their state or country. Having experienced the joy of helping girls succeed over the past few years I would love to continue being a part of helping provide young girls with every opportunity for them to achieve their dreams.


Women in Rowing – Past Events

An exciting event being hosted by WeCOACH, specifically for women High School coaches! WeCOACH is launching the first ever virtual High School Women Coaches Leadership Academy.  Within the community of coaches at the High School level and across all sports, they recognize the challenges faced by women to stay and advance in the coaching profession.

Modelled after their longstanding premier NCAA Women Coaches Academy, this 2-day program from July 27-28 2021, delivered live and online, is aimed at providing leadership and educational programming to assist women High School coaches in reaching team and individual success. And, Athlete Assessments is part of the curriculum using the CoachDISC Profile with me (Liz Masen) presenting a dedicated session during the event! We can’t wait and encourage you to join in if this is for you, and/or please share this with those you think will benefit.

So, what’s included and how much does it cost? 

  • Each day will start at 1:00pm Eastern USA Time and run until approximately 6:30pm (ET).
  • Registration is $179 (including $120 Academy tuition & $59 membership fee – membership required to register for the Academy)

Registration Requirements:

  • You must be a current woman coach (Head, Assistant, Associate or Volunteer), strength & conditioning coach or athletic trainer at the High School level.
  • Must be a WeCOACH member (membership required to register for the Academy and it is easy to join  if you’re not yet a member).

Registration closes on June 18! If you’re interested, find out more here.


Women Sport Australia and Australian owned fashion brand Shona Joy are excited to launch The Shona Joy Scholarship, making career development opportunities more readily available for women working in sport across Australia.

The scholarship includes a fully subsidised WSA Women in Sport Mentoring Program, one-on-one mentoring sessions with a senior leader, a 12 month WSA Membership and access to WSA networking and exclusive events. There will be one Scholarship available in each State and Territory for the 2021 Mentoring Program.

Read more and APPLY: https://www.womensportaustralia.com.au/shona-joy…/


Sport Novia Scotia has a Women & Girls Taskforcehttp://www.sportnovascotia.ca/SportDevelopment/WomenandGirls/tabid/2319/Default.aspx

They are doing some good work, e.g. they have monthly presentation series in two streams:
  • Female Sport Leadership Development Series  
  • Female Coaching Development Series 
There are links to  of presentations that have already occurred. (They did some work in breakout rooms near the end in the live event)
Perhaps we could watch the videos and if they are any good we could share the list of links with the rowing community generally. And maybe if there are gaps or it isn’t ‘relatable’ enough for a QLD audience we could work towards offering something like this of our own.
I’ve been watching the Female Coaching Series — Session 1: strong female leadership’ video this morning. It included several interesting women from a range of sports talking about their personal journeys, mentoring, authentic leadership, continuous learning etc.
“.. the environment was one where we were encouraged not to show emotion, we were encouraged to just be really kind of stoic, and men didn’t show emotions, and if you wanted to be successful leader then don’t you dare get emotional.. just be totally stoic. .. The world’s changed, fortunately, and that is not what we are seeing in great female leaders now. We are seeing women who are vulnerable, who are again authentic and genuine.. who feel comfortable in sharing about their passion and sharing about themselves and telling their story in a very passionate, profound, meaningful way… showing feelings. So it is pretty much a 180…. This has helped me continue to grow as a leader “
“Curiosity is such an important leadership trait”
“… being vulnerable with the athletes, only builds trust
“Letting go and letting other people help you was something I learned pretty quickly over my coaching career…burnout is something that is real, having boundaries with those around you…letting people in.. to help you… not doing all the work myself…. byproduct of that is that it you’re empowering other people… helping them with their career and their development at the same time.”
Some info at 56:45 about a mentoring program within and across sports.
YouTube channel for the Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic: Coaches Channel, has a bunch of professional development videos.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkRQCRiZjsq4wA7xaMi5WJA/playlists
For those who like to read, the book Women and leadership: real lives, real lessons by Julia Gillard (ex-Prime Minister) and Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela (recently appointed as the first female Director General of the World Trade Organisation) useful. The content is quite widely applicable, i.e. beyond a political leadership context.
It sounds a little dry, but it is actually pretty easy to read because it makes heavy use of personal stories from a range of interesting women leaders around the world. It looks at 8 hypotheses:
  • Hypothesis 1: You go girl
  • Hypothesis 2: It’s all about the hair
  • Hypothesis 3: Shrill or soft — the style conundrum
  • Hypothesis 4: She’s a bit of a bitch
  • Hypothesis 5: Who’s minding the kids?
  • Hypothesis 6: A special place in hell – do women really support women?
  • Hypothesis 7: Modern day Salem
  • Hypothesis 8: The role-modelling riddle