Meet the Team: Helen Tilghman, Youth Program Coordinator & Head Coach

Helen is not new to rowing or coaching, but one of the silver linings of Covid-19 has been adding this brilliant coach, athlete and staff member to our team.

Read on to learn about Helen's favorite workout, her long rowing history in the PNW and around the country and her advice for anyone trying rowing for the first time.

How long have you been part of the GPRF?

I started with GPRF in August 2020.

How does your position impact the GPRF?

I am responsible for all the youth programs run out of the PRC facility so I hope to impact the GPRF by making the work done upstairs come to life in daily experiences for youth athletes downstairs.

Where and when did you start rowing?

I started rowing in 2003 at Mt. Baker Rowing and Sailing Center in Seattle.

What is your favourite memory of rowing?

There are way too many to choose from, and from so many different stages of my time in the sport. A recent one that always sticks out to me is watching the MB women's 4 do a pre-race visualization before launching for their final in Sarasota at Nationals in 2019. It was something they had developed on their own and totally bought into. They were standing in a square with linked arms and the coxswain in the middle. It was a moment that said so much about what junior athletes can do when they feel united and motivated. Who inspires you the most in the sport?

I've been really fortunate to have a long list of incredibly inspiring people in my time with rowing. My coaches who made me want to coach, the athletes who make it worth it, the teammates who supported me along the way. One person who has been a long-time inspiration is a former teammate from UW, Adrienne Martelli. She was always incredibly kind, hardworking, selfless, and driven as an athlete and now as a coach. In life? Anyone who has pursued doing something new and challenging, especially when they didn't have to. How has your rowing experience changed during COVID-19? Last spring was the longest I had spent away from the sport since 2003. And this year has been the most small boat coaching I've ever done. Those were both massive changes, not to mention changing jobs and boathouses. But it has all given me a better perspective on what is most important and what we can do to improve our sport.

What advice would you give to someone considering rowing for the first time?

Take a deep breath and then take it one step at a time. Let yourself be new and bad at it for a while, you will improve faster than you think. Do you have a favourite workout?

I love one minute on, one minute off with boats side-by-side. There are so many combinations you can have and it can build such a fun high energy around racing.

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