Marc Mandel will replace Peter Wells ’79 as the head coach of men’s crew this fall. Wells, who coached the Ephs for 35 years, will continue his work with the rowing program as a boathouse manager and boatman.
Mandel will be working alongside Assistant Coach Nate Clark, who came to the program last fall. The two men, both relatively new to the community, bring a fresh outlook to the team.
Inspired by one of his own coaches, who encouraged his “love for the sport and passion for teaching and developing teams,” Mandel began his coaching career the year after he graduated from college. He has spent time at numerous programs, most recently serving as head coach at Gonzaga College High School for the past nine years.
Despite his success coaching high school, Mandel never rowed at that level. He fell in love with the sport in the same way many members of the Williams team have: He walked onto the team at his college, Northwestern.
His experience as a walk-on athlete made Mandel passionate about the development of new rowers. In fact, “the type of walk-on and recruited athletes the [Williams] program attracts” were a large part of what drew him to this position. As co-captain Sam Ellison ’18 put it, the coach’s experience in this area will be “indispensable for a program that thrives because of talented walk-ons year after year.”
Though new rowers spend most of their time under Clark’s guidance, Mandel devotes a fair amount of time and energy to the basics. He believes firmly in “taking a patient, long-term approach to the season and a commitment to teaching.”
“Attention to detail when teaching the rowing stroke pays incredible dividends in developing boat speed,” he said.
Above all, however, Mandel values teamwork. In his eyes, rowing “provides the ultimate team experience,” and the development of this team element is key in developing winning crews.
“My favorite aspect of coaching is getting to work with groups of motivated student-athletes who are engaged in the process of creating the fastest, most supportive team possible,” he said.
When Wells was on leave last spring, the team went through a small rollercoaster of searching for an interim head coach, finding one, losing her due to personal issues, searching for another and finally finding one who stayed through the season. “When any new coach comes into a program,” Mandel said, “there will always be a period of adjustment both for the athletes and the coach.”
Rather than looking at last year’s events as a challenge, Ellison and co-captain Karl Böcker ’18 have focused on the upheaval has done for the team.
“The coaching changes have made it clear that the whole team can work together toward a common goal regardless of the adversity that we face,” Böcker said. “In rowing, that level of trust is an incredibly important asset.”
In addition to coaching experience, Mandel has a master’s degree in business administration, which he earned at a program that focused on leadership, communication and ethics. The program gave him a strong background in areas related to team-building and coaching.
Mandel said he looks forward to working with a “genuinely motivated, coachable group.” He is particularly excited to see “the team’s lineup at the end of the year … knowing the months of effort and dedication that went into getting to that point.”
Böcker expressed similar excitement: “With a young team and a new coach, there is an opportunity for us to explore and establish what men’s crew stands for and how hard we are willing to work to achieve excellence.”