William Smith Rowing Head Coach Sandra Chu was featured in the January edition of Coxing Magazine. The article, “Everything You Need is within 25 Feet of You,” highlights Chu’s work building a rowing program with a culture of community and excellence, while guiding the Herons to remarkable success on the water and in the classroom.
“Coaching is about teaching problem-solving skills,” Chu says in the article. “It’s a great opportunity to put that out there: that everything you need is right there. The women who leave my program don’t see problems; they see solutions.”
Throughout the article, Chu discusses her coaching technique, in which she encourages her coxswain to solve problems with the resources that are “within 25 feet of you,” and to see the successes in their failures.
“I try to teach the team that there are different ways to get it done right, and everything we need is within our reach,” says Chu, who has been a practitioner of her own advice, having changed her coaching tactics over the years to meet her athletes’ needs.
Chu joined the William Smith Rowing Program as head coach in 2002, and has led the Herons to nine Liberty League Championships and eight NCAA Championships. She has mentored 20 Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) All-Americans and was named the CRCA Division III 2012 Coach of the Year.
Widely respected in the rowing community, Chu is a former member of the CRCA Board of Directors, the NCAA Regional Advisory Committee and the NCAA Division III Championship Committee. A graduate of the NCAA Women Coaches’ Academy, she teaches a coxing clinic called “Chu on This: We Make Coxswains Faster.”
Before taking the helm at William Smith, Chu served three seasons as an assistant coach of women’s rowing at Kansas State University and as an intern coach at Princeton University for one season.
An accomplished coxswain, Chu was a walk-on coxswain at Princeton from 1988 to 1991, and led the team to medals at the Head of the Charles and the EAWRC Sprints Championships. She went on to earn a master’s degree in English and creative writing from New York University and has earned national recognition for her poems.
The article features a series of photographs by HWS Chief Photographer Kevin Colton, capturing Chu and her team at work on Seneca Lake.