Q&A with UMass rowing coach Jim Dietz

By Christopher Martinez

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(Misserion/Flickr)

(Misserion/Flickr)

Massachusetts rowing coach Jim Dietz is as charismatic as they come. A world renowned coach whose passion is embedded in the sport of rowing, his career began in the early 1960’s, when he competed for the New York Athletic Club. As an athlete, he was a member of three Olympic rowing teams (in 1972, 1976 and 1980), and went on to coach several more. He won 45 United States championships in his playing career.

At UMass, Dietz has enjoyed similar success. The only coach of the rowing team in its 21st year of existence, Dietz has guided the Minutewomen to 14 Atlantic 10 Conference championships and three appearances in the NCAA Championships.

On Tuesday, Christopher Martinez had a chance to sit down with Dietz.

Christopher Martinez: What kind of success can we expect from the team this year?
Jim Dietz: “The season is looking to shape really well. We have our strongest incoming class of freshman in all the time that I’ve been coaching up at UMass. The numbers show that this is the most well rounded group we’ve gathered in a while, with ERG numbers that are off the charts”
ERG is short for ergonomic rowing machine, which helps to test strength and power output for rowers.

CM: How does the team plan to build on last season’s NCAA championship appearance, when the Minutewomen finished 21st in the country?
JD: “Reaching the Championship was a big milestone for our program, but our goals this year are seeking to reach that level of competition again, but this time to perform against the best competition in collegiate sports.”

CM: How is the atmosphere of the team and chemistry in the locker room?
JD: “The younger guys are looking to the veterans here, always aiming to be rowing in the top boat; see in rowing, there aren’t really all stars. Guys know they everyone has a job to do in order for the team to be great, so egos don’t really exist in our locker room. The chemistry is great.”

CM: What attributes make you the coach you are today?
JD: “It started real early for me to be honest, I’ve been rowing for a long time so my biggest strength would probably be experience. I’ve really come to understand how the boats work. You’ve really got to be a student of the sport because in the last 20 years or so the boats have really changed in capability”

CM: What are your favorite experiences thus far at UMass?
JD: “The 1998 and 1999 NCAA championships, and the teams run to the finals last year.”

Christopher Martinez can be reached at [email protected]