Veronika Platzer, Women's Head Rowing Coach, Boathouse Director
“The dedication and genuine goodness of the UMass Lowell community is inspiring.”
When Veronika Platzer tells her rowers to find that last bit of strength to finish a race, they know she’s been in their shoes. Platzer, head coach for the women’s team
, rowed in college and continues to compete today.
“I love uphill climbs, I like the pain of working to my highest level – I have a hunger to push myself as hard as I can,” says Platzer. “You can’t cheat this sport.”
Platzer’s athletic career is exceptional and varied – besides being a world-class rower, she was a three-time NCAA Division III champion in the discus, was inducted into Grinnell College’s Hall of Fame in 1991 and was voted the NCAA’s Female Track and Field Athlete of the Decade (1980-90). Most recently, she won the 2010 women's four championship at the FISA World Rowing Masters Regatta in St. Catharines, Ontario.
“Talent alone is not enough,” Platzer says of rowing. “You need to work the mind, body and boat together precisely.”
While transitioning the women’s team from club status to a NCAA Division II team and advising the men’s club, Platzer enjoys getting students on the water. Wake up time is early and practices are tough, but once they get in the rowing groove there’s usually no turning back.
“Rowing is a rare and unique sport in which having little or no experience is commonplace and the skill set is fairly simple to learn,” says Platzer. “The hard part is applying that skill set at an extremely high level of aerobic intensity and in perfect synchronicity with seven other rowers.”
In addition to training athletes, Platzer has worked to build the team’s profile and the renovated Bellegarde boathouse’s
reputation. The facility hosts rowing and community events throughout the year and gets new people on the water with classes and equipment rentals.
"This is a position that requires the combination of coaching and recruiting skills and an entrepreneurial component as well," Platzer says. "Any time there is talk about using a sport for creative outreach, you're singing my tune. I was very impressed that Dana Skinner and Chancellor Meehan are visionaries of this program, recognizing its importance not just for the University, but for the community.”
After a few years on the job, Platzer and the University have already seen the positive impact of the revitalized rowing program. The team made it to the 2012 Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta’s Varsity Eight Grand Final for the first time in more than 25 years.
"What is so exciting is that we have the seeds for a fantastic program," Platzer says. "We have resources that would rival any Division I program and I am looking forward to continuing to give it the identity and direction it needs.”