The University of Portland Women's Rowing program has announced Gulliver Scott as the team’s head coach. Scott most recently served as the Associate Head Coach of The Saint Mary’s College of California Women’s Rowing team and brings over 20 years of experience to the team. With former head coach Pasha Spencer stepping down, Scott is looking to give the Pilots a new identity.
Scott recently spoke with Beacon Sports Reporter Keawe Strance about his vision for the rowing program, what brought him to UP, and how COVID-19 will affect the upcoming season.
The Beacon: What is your vision for the program this year?
Scott: This year we are obviously dealing with pretty unusual circumstances so what I want to accomplish is meeting all of our student athletes and getting everyone on the same page. Back to training, full tilt, fired up and excited. We are operating under the assumption that we will be competing this spring but obviously that's still up in the air, so it's a challenging time for everybody, but that's kind of the first order of business is just to get everybody hopefully on the same page in the same place, and excited to get back to training.
What were the main factors that influenced your decision to come to UP?
Scott: There were a lot of factors on why I chose Portland. It's a relatively young program and they are definitely on the rise and that excited me the most. I really love building programs and working on getting them to the next level. There is a lot of support for athletics in general and rowing in particular, right now at UP. Just from a facilities standpoint, the new facilities being built and the new boathouse that was installed, are going to be great. Equipment wise, we are in a really good place with some new acquisitions and those things are huge for any sport but particularly for rowing because we're such an equipment intensive sport. There are just a lot of resources and momentum in place that made it an exciting opportunity. I'm also coming from another West Coast Conference school so it was an opportunity to stay in the WCC and really appreciate and value the schools. Being in the WCC and being at a smaller school and just the values and principles, really resonated with me. The fact that this is a place where our athletes are really also students and are interested in the world and engaged in what's happening and wanna make a difference is really important to me as well.
Due to COVID-19, is there a different approach or way of training that needs to be in effect?
Scott: There are a lot of safety guidelines and protocols that we're following from testing to maintaining distance. Right now, we're working on plans to be able to train in a safe way so it's definitely affecting us, but we do have a great staff at UP. With our Sports Medicine program and facilities contributing, we are making sure that we are able to train in a way that's safe for everybody.
What are your main goals and expectations for this upcoming year?
Scott: For me, we have a big roster, so getting to know everybody and getting everybody on the same page and making sure that we're all trying to accomplish the same thing. That's part of it. Competitively, this is such an unusual time and it is going to be a challenge not knowing whether or not we are going to be able to compete due to safety reasons. The bigger picture is that the program hasn't finished higher than fourth in the West Coast Conference and so I think from a results standpoint it was time to crack into the top three and that is the first order of business.
How did you get into coaching?
Scott: I started rowing in high school. I'm from Berkeley, California, originally, and Berkeley High is one of the few public high schools on the West Coast with a rowing team. I played soccer growing up my whole life and my dad coached. During my high school years I was playing soccer for Berkeley high but also got recruited onto the rowing team. That kind of convinced me to give it a shot and I ended up really enjoying it. I took a gap year after high school before I went to college and then my high school rowing coach asked me if I wanted to coach the freshman team. I jumped at that opportunity. I hadn't really thought of it before, but I just had a blast doing it. Add a little bit of success as well, and really ever since then coaching just kept calling me.
What are you most looking forward to about coaching in the Portland area?
Scott: I love Portland and I have family in the Pacific Northwest so I'm familiar with the area. I think Portland is a great city. I love the size. It’s big enough where there is a lot to do, but it’s also small enough so that there's a real sense of community. From a cultural food entertainment standpoint, I think it's a great place to be. And being able to get out into the outdoors. There's so much that's close by, which makes Portland really appealing.
Keawe Strance is a sports reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.