The Evening Times-Globe, Saint John, N.B., May 3, 1974
This Coach Hates Defeat
By Steve Belding, Staff Writer
|AT CAPTAIN'S DINNER - Neil Campbell (left), head coach of the Ridley College Rowing Club of St. Catharines, Ont., was guest speaker during the Kennebecasis Rowing Club's Captain's Dinner Thursday night at Riverside Country Club. Campbell is shown above with Kennebecasis club captain Tim Frink (centre), and club president Dr. C. H. Bonnycastle.|
"You've got to be mean to be a good oarsman and a good coach has got to bring it out of you."
That's the way Neil Campbell, head coach of the Ridley College Rowing Club of St. Catharines, Ont., explains his outstanding success.
He was speaking Thursday night at the Riverside Country Club during the Kennebecasis Rowing Club's first Captain's Dinner.
"I hate to lose," the 43-year-old Campbell says "and I coach how I feel."
He says the "meanness" or competitiveness comes out of a competitor when he is tired "When you're tired you still have to be able to row. That's why my guys look like they do."
Following an outstanding career as an oarsman himself, Campbell is following through as coach with the Ridley College rowing team.
Ridley won the Princess Elizabeth Cup schoolboy rowing competition at Henley, England in 1970 and 1973, last year establishing the one mile, 550-yard course record of 6:38.
In 1971 and 1972 Campbell says Ridley would have won the title also if it had not been disqualified. He said the Ridley team actually finished first on both occasions, but each time "one guy fell out of the boat because a rigger broke."
Rowing, the only sport which interests Campbell, is an all consuming one for him. He is dedicated to it. Following the banquet last night, he said he would be leaving for St. Catharines as soon as possible today to get back for his rowing team's workouts.
"Whether I am coaching or rowing," says Campbell, "at the end of a race, I just wish that it wasn't over. I actually sit down and cry. It's like a pin was stuck in me and I deflate like a balloon."
He says he was first interested in rowing when he was very young.
"I went to Ridley as a kid," says the Buffalo, N.Y., native, whose parents moved to the St. Catharines area when he was one year old. "My father used to rent fishing boats and I rode them all the time as a kid.
"Some people can naturally skate and become good hockey players. I guess I was a natural oarsman from the day I was born."
Campbell, 6’3", 185 pounds, was an outstanding heavyweight oarsman with the St. Catharines Rowing Club from 1955 to 1968. He took over the Ridley College coaching reins in 1967.
For many of his seasons on the St. Catharines heavyweight fours (a racing shell in which four oarsmen row) and heavyweight eights rowing teams, he was under the tutelage of Gerry Lienert. During that stretch, St. Catharines rowing teams took part in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the 1968 Mexico Olympics. They also won many North American rowing titles.
Campbell credits Lienert, now the Kennebecasis Rowing Club's coach, with much of his success.
Campbell says of Lienert who has remained a good friend, "he motivated me.
"The Kennebecasis club is very fortunate to have a coach with the abilities and knowledge that Gerry has."
The Kennebecasis Rowing Club is in its second season. It was founded by Dr. C. H. Bonnycastle and other area residents interested in the sport. With the addition of two new pairs to its facilities this season, the club will have acquired $10,000 worth of equipment in two years.
An Imperial Oil Ltd. dealer says the Kennebecasis club "has the backing, the boats, a shell house, and the best coach in rowing. Now," he adds, "all they need are the horses to get behind them."
The Captain's Dinner, which is a tradition with most rowing clubs, was held last night in honor of club captain, Tim Frink of Renforth and last year's team members. They include: Peter Flood, Dave Wright, Bob Donner, RegBelyea, Mark Allen, Chris Oland, Wayne McConnell, Steve (Butch) Gaunce and Neil MacDonald. They took part in the Nova Scotia Sprints at Halifax, the 1973 Summer Games at Burnaby, B. C. and their own club rowing regatta, which was part of the annual Renforth Regatta.
The Kennebecasis team finished with three firsts, a second and a third in five events at Halifax. It finished second in their own three-club regatta behind the Quebec Rowing Federation Team (the Mic Mac and North Star rowing teams from Nova Scotia made up the other entry). They didn't place in the Summer Games. However many of the oarsmen said they "made our presence known" at Burnaby.
The team plans to broaden its horizons this season.
Lienert says he plans to enter the Kennebecasis club in the Canadian Henley Regatta to be held at the end of July in St. Catharines. If the Kennebecasis rowers make a good showing in that competition, Lienert says they may enter the Canadian championships at Burnaby.
Also, the roster during the Kennebecasis club's regatta will include St. Catharines Rowing Club and Ridley College Rowing Club teams, as well as the Quebec and Nova Scotia entries of last season.
Club captain Tim Frink says he's "impressed with the progress of this club in the past couple of years. Our goal is to someday produce Olympic oarsmen out of this club and I don't feel it will be too many years off.