From Olympic gold medalist to collegiate coach

Anna Goodale shares life experiences, rowing knowledge as Ohio State University coach

Fri, 12/28/2018 - 12:30pm

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Rowing has taken Camden native Anna Goodale around the world and opened numerous doors for her through the years. 

One door, however, the Olympic gold medalist never thought she would venture into would be the world of coaching. 

“I never thought I would be interested in coaching (or any good at it for that matter),” Goodale said. “A lot of parts of coaching are out of my comfort zone and it’s been a huge growth opportunity for me.”

Goodale, a 2001 graduate of Camden Hills, has received a heaping of accolades over the years. In her professional years, she earned a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was a member of four world championship teams and three world cup teams and a key aspect in record-setting boats at the Henley Regatta in England and Head of the Charles Regatta in Massachusetts. 

As a collegiate rower at Syracuse University in New York, the former walk-on rower received first team All-America honors in 2003 and 2005, and second team honors in 2004. As a senior in 2005, Goodale was a recipient of the Soladay Award, the most prestigious award presented to a student-athlete by the Syracuse athletics department. 

She was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 2015 and the Midcoast Sports Hall of Fame in 2011. 

Following her professional rowing retirement in 2010 and amid a break from the sport she had dedicated herself to for over a decade, Goodale found herself living in Spokane, Washington, starting a career as personal trainer and, surprisingly, having the urge to test the coaching waters. 

Coincidentally, Spokane’s Gonzaga University was in need an assistant rowing coach around that same time.

She joined the Bulldogs rowing program and helped the team claim a West Coast Conference crown and 17th place, the best in school history, at the 2015 NCAA Championships. 

Following her time at Gonzaga, she made her way to Ohio State University, where she is in her second season as the novice rowing coach.

A novice rower is an athlete who is in their first year of competition. The Buckeyes note that 90 percent of their novice team has no previous rowing experience. 

“The learning curve is huge in the land of novice rowing,” Goodale stated. “It is amazing to watch my athletes go from the very awkward first few weeks on the water to really being able to move boats. It’s an honor to be a part of their journey.”

Ask any athletic coach and they will tell you coaching has amazing benefits and also challenging aspects. 

For Goodale, she says the best part is seeing her athletes realize how strong they are and instilling confidence to accomplish anything her rowers strive towards. 

“I love giving them the opportunity to work hard (harder than they want to sometimes) and then see the results,” she stated. “I see my role as a coach as part of the story/guide for the next generation of strong women who will accomplish great things.”

Goodale noted in the beginning of her coaching career, the challenging aspects came when she needed to explain muscle memory to her rowers and have the confidence to navigate the unfamiliar territory of collegiate coaching. Now, she says, the most challenging aspect is that her job “never sleeps.” 

For those even slightly interested in coaching, Goodale recommends giving it a chance as you might be surprised to find you really enjoy it, as she did. 

“Leadership is a very important skill that can be learned and coaching is a great way to do it,” she said.

Reach George Harvey and the sports department at: