The Lehigh women’s rowing team practices for the Patriot League Championship in May, which is the ultimate team goal for the season. Senior Bailey Lipset (second to back), has played a role in helping new teammates adjust and feel comfortable, even through coaching changes at the beginning of the season. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Lehigh women’s rowing fosters welcoming environment with coaching changes


With a change in its coaching staff to start the year, the Lehigh women’s rowing team has learned how to adapt and adjust this season. 

The team’s former coach, Brian Conley, parted ways after 12 seasons to take a head coaching position at Old Dominion University. 

New coach Peter Costas said the team has stepped up and created a welcoming environment for him to begin the season. 

“What I’ve quickly learned is how well prepared for moments like this and coaching transitions that the leadership on the team really was ready for,” Costas said. “They had to operate practices for two weeks on their own, and then they had to get to know me and really keep a sort of focus and momentum going.”

Senior Kendall Riskevich said Costas’ style of coaching has helped push the team.  

Riskevich said Costas adds new perspectives and a positive mindset to everything they do. 

“Showing up to practice, giving your all for that day and not letting one bad practice define your whole self worth or sense of self which can be really hard,” Riskevich said.

Senior Bailey Lipset has been on the team all four years and said she has quickly adapted to the new coaching and shift in the culture of the team. 

“Even if there’s a change that he wants us to make, he always spins it in a positive direction, which I think our team has really taken well to,” Lipset said.

Assistant coach Julianna Malachin, ’18, said older members of the team stepped up when things started changing to keep the team at ease. Malachin attributes the smooth transitions to the team’s leaders. 

Riskevich said there are seven rowers among both the men’s and women’s teams who have leadership roles and make decisions on coaching. 

To start off the season, the team competed in a race against Bucknell on Oct. 1. Times weren’t recorded, but Costas said the team showed a lot of potential. 

“What’s exciting is it’s a really young team and we’re getting into equilibrium with filling out schedules with the intensity of practice and lifting,” Costas said.

This season, the Mountain Hawks have early morning lifts twice a week and practices six days a week.

To meet their goals going into the spring season, Riskevich said as a senior and a leader of the team, she wants to work in helping her teammates make adjustments. 

Riskevich said the success of the season will be a team effort. 

Malachin said the team is moving in the right direction, and attributes this success to Costas and the rowers.  

“With a new coach, the goal is getting our footing, establishing a new standard for the team and what that looks like in regards to the changes that have been made,” Malachin said.

Costas said winning the Patriot League championship, which takes place at the end of May, is the team’s ultimate goal. 

To achieve this goal, Costas said he is setting them up with productive, high energy practices. 

“It’s about setting up an environment where we are hoping for positive outcomes, of course, but we’re not burdened by the possibility that we might have negative outcomes, and in some way that can really free the team up to push themselves and risk failure,” Costas said. 

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