Head Coach Jack Marolich

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Jack Marolich will leave Western in late October after 6 years as the men’s head coach. Jack was a rower for Western from 2004-2008, beginning when the program was still a varsity program. Jack returned to his alma mater in 2009. The program had become a club sport in 2006, and strong leadership was necessary to keep the team from fading into obscurity.

2009 Crew, Jack at right
2009 Crew, Jack at right

Under Jack’s unwavering leadership, the club grew from 12 in 2009 to its current 40. Beyond raw numbers, the club is returning more rowers than ever, with 25 returning for the 2015 season. The team has also grown in competitiveness, with recent qualifications for the Dad Vail Regatta as well as Head of the Charles, and the team is now a perennial competitor at the NCRC and WIRA championships. WWU executed the first-ever sweep of every event in the NCRC last year for the first time in conference history. Furthermore, club fundraising has been successful under Jack’s steady hand, working with the WWU Foundation and team leadership to establish a $20,000 account for men’s rowing.

Current assistant coach and WWU alum Matt Reider will be the interim head coach for the 2015-2016 year. At this time, the team is accepting interested applicants for all coaching positions.

Anyone interested in coaching should contact team president Henry Brown.

Jack, you have left a great legacy behind at Western and much for us all, rowers and coaches, to look up to. Below are some comments and stories from athletes whose lives you have permanently influenced over your time with WWU Rowing. We all wish you the best.


“Jack’s influence on WWU Men’s Crew will be experienced by many rowers beyond the immediate duration of his coaching. His fervor and rowing intellect has helped this team grow, competing at a greater scale with each year. As interim head coach, I hope to build off this tremendous momentum. I rowed for the first 3 years of Jack’s coaching and started coaching with him in fall of 2014, so I will do my best to carry on his legacy and take the club even further in 2015-2016.” Matt Reider, Class of 2012, Interim Head Coach.

“For the past 5 years that I have know Jack Marolich, he’s helped to grow the team from nearly disbanding all together to one of the larger, competitive teams in the region for DII, and has even made a name for the team on the national scene with races such as Head of the Charles and the Dad Vails regatta. My 4 years spent rowing for the team taught me more applicable lessons for life than any class in college did, and Jack had a huge part in that. I learned how to push myself beyond my own limits to reach for not only myself, but for the team. To be responsible and to have integrity, and to count my successes based on my work ethic, not my medals. Coaching alongside Jack for the past year and start of this one, I am continuing to learn more, about the sport of rowing and how to be as effective of a coach as he is.” Zak Balonick, Class of 2014, Assistant Coach

“I’ve played every sport in the book and gone through a lot of coaches in my lifetime. From my first day with you on Varsity, running Alabama hill, I knew you were going to be the best coach I’ve ever had. Every day, putting in work on the water (getting yelled at or not) and in the gym, it was all worth it because of you. I’ve never had a coach impact my life more, teach me more about mental and physical toughness, and push me to my limits more than you. I respect everything you have ever done on our team and with me as an athlete and I could not be more thankful for having been coached by you for new1four years. I pride myself on who I’ve become through rowing and all of that is thanks to you. It’s hard to see you leave the team but we all knew it would happen. To be honest, I was surprised it wasn’t earlier. You put in countless hard coaching hours with all of us and deserve the biggest of rewards and I still wish our team could have given back more. Rowing for you was never dull and every moment was and has been cherished from those years spent with you. I’ve never met
a coach to have made more of an impact on a team, new2individual guys, and myself more and I am thankful everyday for our time rowing for you. Thank you for everything you have done and given to us. We will always owe you. These two pictures were memorable moments with you. The first was our handshake after the Novice 8 won NCRC, I remember that moment as a freshman like it happened yesterday. The second, a picture of me and you, standing with your newly developed “Viking Award,” meaning so much to me because that one award encapsulated four years of work and championships. Thanks for everything, Jack, and best of luck in Portland.” Joe Gregersen, Class of 2013, Assistant Coach

“I have always had a large amount of respect for Coach. Someone who is willing to wake up at 4 am and lead an entire team for free shows a lot about someone’s character. For myself, I have always looked up to Jack and everything he gives to this team. There is no way we would be where we are at as a club without him and all the hard work he’s put in over the years.” Corban McKay, Class of 2015

“I was a prospective student at Western in 2009 and saw the club then it its early days, and ultimately decided not to continue rowing. Seeing it now, in 2015, and being part of it as an assistant coach, it’s nothing short of amazing what Jack was able to accomplish. I’ve worked with and been coached by a lot of coaches, and Jack is one of the best. His calm presence and strong leadership will be an asset anywhere, and we have big shoes to fill on the coaching staff!” Will Ruth, Strength Coach

“As someone who has known Jack for 4 years now it has been interesting to witness and experience the change that has transpired to myself and the team. When I first met coach as a wide-eyed freshman he seemed kind of intimidating.Jumping into a whole new environment can be much but as I got to know coach over the next few months he really struck me as first and foremost; a dedicated coach with the passion and drive to see his team grow. Of course that meant winning, but at an equivalent level this also meant teaching people more about themselves on an individual and group basis. Coach would put us through very tough workouts, ones I know we all complained about, and cursing under our breaths we would train hard. At face value that is all it was. Just an exercise designed to make you more physically fit. However, after sitting down and rationalizing why I had to sit on a death machine for a few ours out of my morning, it became pretty clear that over time my personal ethics had changed. Jack’s program put us through such intense physical output that it started affecting me outside rowing, like in my workplace or in school. I worked harder, longer and more dedicated hours into any task I was faced with: mentally or physically. This is something that anyone who rows with coach will be able to appreciate. We call it work ethic. Coach taught us more about ourselves and each other through these experiences out on the water and I think that is one of the big reasons why we feel so close to one another. Having talked to many other rowers and experienced a few different programs in my life I know that this phenomenon is not a universal experience in the world of rowing. That is something I believe we are very special to have received. Seeing someone who you can look up to in a sport is one thing, but someone who does that sport for free and who can still kick your butt in any aspect of the sport of rowing is something else entirely. I think since Jack started coaching our team has slowly built momentum from the ground up. In my novice year at western I was greeted with seven returners from last years group. Since then that returner number has increased each year to now number 25. To me they would not be coming back without a reason and I think Jack has helped us realize that reason.” Roddy Vanderlinden, Class of 2014

“Jack was an inspiring coach. He was gruff, and expected great things from us, and something about him really made me want to live up to those expectations. I think that’s one of the things that helped drive my Novice 4+ to win at WIRA that year. I’m sad to know he won’t be coaching here anymore, but I’m sure he left the team in very capable hands.” Drew Falabella, Class of 2015

“Jack is more than just a coach. He’s a man you can count on not just to be there, but to be present and engaged.  He demands excellence from us everyday and I have not met one person in my tenure who was not willing to place everything they had on the line. Not just because he asked, but because you know he would do no less for you. Jack Marolich is not just another coach. He’s also a leader, mentor, friend, and Brother. We’ll miss you coach.” Tohn Keagle, Class of 2015

“It was great seeing him when he took the team to Dad Vails! Great asset to team, will be missed! Thanks for all you have meant to WWU.” Jason Moorehead, Class of 1999

“Coach was never one of those guys that was super forward and easy to talk to. He was a man of very few and select words. His presence in the boathouse and his demeanor on the water put immediate fear in you as a novice and demanded your respect as you continued rowing for the team. Coach is a guy that knows the sport inside and out; he knows how to switch up lineups and workouts to keep everyone on their toes and constantly guessing who was gonna make “the lineup”. Out on the water you could feel his eyes move through every boat, every seat one-by-one, watching the catch and the body angles; whether you were sitting straight or getting the proper backsplash. If you ever saw his launch begin to hover next to your 8 or 4, you knew it was time to kick it into gear and pull to impress. Everyone would perk up, sync in, and displace as much water as we could in hopes of impressing him. The kind of presence Coach is on the team makes everyone want to be the best, to leave everything on the water, to throw everything into those power 10’s and move with grace and precision. We wanted to impress him not only because he was Coach, but also because he was a brother, a fellow oarsman, a proud Viking. He had been in our seats before, he had done the drills, he had erged until the point of passing out and projectile vomiting everywhere. We could see his passion and joy for the sport exude from his smile every morning as he would shuttle out across the glassy and frozen Lake Whatcom waters, to meet up with our boats and take off into the sunrise. We all still laugh about the times he would stop practice to watch bald eagles circle above us, or the times when he would give us nick names like “blue shoes” or “red shorts” or call Corban “Carbon” because he wasn’t the best with names, nor did he care to learn them early on because he knew half of us wouldn’t make it to the end of the year. The first time Coach calls you by your actual name is an experience that very few are honored with. It’s comparable to the first time your dad tells you he is proud of you mixed with the first time you taste a lafeens donut; pride never tasted so sweet. Many of the moments that have inspired us as rowers and coxswains are because of Coach. His guidance has led this team to continual triumphs on and off the water. His presence will be impossible to replace. He has personally impacted my life by showing me how to lead by example, how the best words are chosen carefully and often come few in number, to know that respect is an earned commodity worth it’s weight in gold, that success in life is achieved one set piece at a time, that failure is a state of mind easily overcome with proper motivation, that sometimes you have to stop and take notice of the Eagles and the little things in life, and finally that remembering someone’s name can have an immeasurable impact on their life. Coach, my success in life will be impacted by the mornings I spent out here with you and all my bothers and sisters, pushing off of each other. I can only hope to push through life as if your launch is hovering next to me, as I strain every muscle and bone in my body to take every set piece in life as if it were my last. Cheers to Coach and everything he has done for this team and every single one of us over these last years.” Shane (Speedy) Sanders, Class of 2015

“Amazing asset to the team. Was able to build something back to greatness.” Andy Foltz, Class of 2007, current PLU women’s coach

“As a novice, I haven’t had the privilege of rowing under your expertise and guidance, but I have seen the effects of your coaching. You have created a culture of great community and team-mindedness that surpasses other more trivial aspects of athletics. Leadership is a descendant role and the effects of which trickle down into lesser leaders and from them, into the rest of the team. From my viewpoint, you have led well and it shows by the passion and zeal that more seasoned team members have for both the sport in general and their desire to pass their knowledge onto the next generation (us novices). Thank you for your service.” Ryan Carnahan, Class of 2019

“Crew is basically the family I’ve always wanted to have, and I see Jack as our father. Jack makes me want to be a better person, for him and for the team. And I am sure that every guy in the team feels that way too. At practice he talked about the Rowing Gods above, I am pretty sure he is secretly one of them. I have only been in the team one year, and for what I have seen, Jack has brought the team to a great place, and I am glad I get to be part of it. Jack is one of the funniest, coolest, and wisest people I have ever met. One day I want to be like him, and I also want to have two dogs. Jack has made WWU Crew happen, and that is not an easy task. Thank you Jack for giving me and this team something to look forward to in the morning.” Dario Castellon, Class of 2017

“In my novice year I didn’t see too much of Jack since Joe and Zack were our main coaches; I wasn’t even entirely sure he knew my name until he said it in winter quarter. But one if my drives was to have him be coaching me instead of novice coaches. He was always the right amount of kick-your-ass-and-smile-about-it and also inspiring as all hell, with a good dose of humor thrown in there as well. After the NCRC N4+ race I remember getting out of the boat and just hearing “Badass race!” and getting a fist bump still in the post-win high; those moments are the ones I’ll remember for a long time to come. I’ve never met a man so respected by his team before, and I’ve been on a few teams. There’s no question ever from any rower: His word is taken as truth unquestioningly. He got, as he says, “As Matt says, “110%””, out of every rower. A true role model.” Nick Vitalis, Class of 2017

“Even though I only had Jack as a coach for one year, I know that he played a major role in my sports career. He helped push me past what I thought was possible and really showed me my potential. Without Jack, I honestly don’t think I’d be rowing still and certainly wouldn’t be pushing myself as hard as I do now.” Caleb Neufeld, Class of 2018

“While I’ve only known him for a year, Coach Jack played a significant part in my maturing as a rower on and off the water. Jack helped me realize that I can push through the physical and mental barriers I thought I couldn’t pass at first. As for the team, I know that the more seasoned rowers have much more to appreciate for Jack’s tenure here at WWU Men’s Crew since they could see how far they’ve come as a team. But in the span of one year I saw myself go from a novice who hated waking up early to doing my part in sweeping the Cascade Cup in the Novice 4 and Novice 8; Jack’s encouraging compliments and helpful pointers definitely motivated me to get to that point. Thank you Coach Jack for giving us your time and effort, making the most grueling practices enjoyable with your humor, and helping make my experience rowing here the best time of my life. The eagles will miss you, but we’ll miss you even more.” Mitchell Tokuoka, Class of 2018

“Jack Marolich made an indelible impression on me in the years I got to know him as head coach here in Bellingham. He is a man that I am proud to have followed and learned from during my years rowing and is someone that I count myself lucky to have encountered during such formative years of my life. I cannot say high enough praise for Jack; his work ethic only matched by his humor, his humbleness complimented by his patience and vision. Jack was foundational to our team and to the community that developed among us. What Jack made with his time in Bellingham is a testament to what selfless action can do for others. Jack inspired me to expect more and to push further. Through him I learned how to win and lose gracefully, how to be tenacious in the face of adversity, the joy of succeeding after sacrifice and trial.  Jack was as much a mentor through example in how he conducted himself as he was in the direction he gave. He stands unparalleled in his even handedness, his compassion and his foresight.” Carl Smith, Class of 2015

“Most coaches will congratulate and celebrate with their team after a win/victory, however Jack Marolich is not like most coaches. Jack’s coaching goes beyond the small triumphs because he is able to see the true greatness in each and every one of us. We are pushed beyond what we believe is humanly possible in hopes to one day be enlightened. That, is what Jack sees in all that enter the boathouse every dark morning. He sees what potential we all hold and are too blind to see. I hope that Jack will one day know how influential he was on our rowing program. Through his coaching I was able to achieve things I did not think possible. I have learned vast amounts of knowledge that apply both on the water and in life. Jack has made me a better athlete, student and a better man. There is really no way I will ever be able to thank him for all he has done for myself and this program. Best of wishes to Jack and his wife, the eagles will watch us while you’re away.” Jackson Wood, Class of 2017

“The first time I met Coach Jack was the first novice practice at the boat house where he presented to us his thoughts on rowing. He illuminated the hard work and mental toughness success in the sport would take and defiantly inspired me to work hard and strive to achieve big results. Later he made an analogy between gaining trophies and playing my favorite childhood videogame Poke’mon saying “you gotta’ catch ‘em all.” Witnessing a grown man reference poke’mon and tell a team of boys to get fast and win trophies. Priceless. Jack fired me up. The last Saturday morning practice I was at Jack was having fun with us. Joking amongst the boys. It felt good. Even if Jack is leaving at the beginning of my career, I’m sure his impact on the team will continue to influence me as a rower.” Daniel Korus, Class of 2019

“Without your amazing coaching skills, and work ethic on/off the water I wouldn’t have been able to stick with such a rewarding sport. Rowing has instilled upon me better organization skills, balancing out school, free time, and getting use to waking up at 4 every morning. Entering into my freshman year of college I would have never thought rowing was going to make such a positive impact on my life, the friendships, thrills, triumphant, it’s truly surreal. Thank you so much for dedicating these years of your life to helping build such a wonderful program, all the best on your future endeavors!” Max Griffith, Class of 2015

“Coach Jack has not only brought me into the sport of rowing but has made it a blast everyday since my first practice a year ago. His commitment to the team is apparent in the way he conducts himself everyday. You can see his love for the sport every time he walks into the boat house completely voluntarily at the crack of dawn. His joking and competitive nature make him the perfect coach to not only get you fired up but to relieve the stress with some playful banter. Jack has crafted my love for this sport through too many ways to put on paper. He will be missed.” Cameron Moser, Class of 2018

“Although I have not gotten much of an opportunity to get to know Jack as a coach, I can see how much he cares for this program. He has coached a very competitive and successful club, and built an amazing community around that. I see how much respect the returning rowers have for him both as a coach and just as a person in general. Coach Jack has definitely left his mark on this program and helped make it what it is today.” Levi Hamernik, Class of 2019

“Coach Jack Marolich, through Western Washington Crew, has taught me the value of discipline, commitment, and self-confidence. Though I have not known him for very long, his mentorship has inspired me to improve beyond what i believed possible, both as a rower and as a man. Somewhere between the brutal workouts, exhausting number of practice hours, raw effort, and surreal intensity he demands, I have found a stronger, more devoted, and wiser version of myself. Jack’s outstanding leadership in the team and his comprehension of the monumentally elegant sport has made me believe in myself and my abilities in a way no other activity in my life has ever accomplished. I am sincerely grateful for the chance I had to learn from him, as I know those lessons will positively impact me forever.” Kal Imlay, Class of 2017

“WWU Crew has some incredible shoes to fill.” Zach Murphy, Class of 2013

“Jack made me work hard at the sport, he made me love the sport.” Jason Syms, Class of 2010

“In the fall of my freshman year, I wandered through the info fair looking for a club that would be the right fit for me.  I wasn’t able to afford to live on campus my freshman year, but I knew I needed to get involved with a group or club to meet people and to make friends.  Even if this just meant that I would recognize some faces on campus, I knew I needed to have some connections to some people outside of a classroom. Being fairly athletic in high school, I also knew I wanted to join a club that would push me and keep me in good shape.  Upon arriving the section of the info fair with the club teams, I was only reached out to directly by a member of the WWU Men’s Crew, with all the other clubs hiding behind a booth.  In short, I was told being apart of the WWU Crew was hard, going to get me in the greatest shape of my life, and I would make some of the best friends fo my life.  Everything a lost soul could dream of. At the orientation the head coach, Jack Marolich, was invited to say a few words about the program, “We are the hardest working team at this school, the majority of the faculty and students on campus know this.  Our hard work shows in the competitions we win.”  This line resonated with and carried me through the gruelling pain of running Alabama and erg pieces I thought would never come to an end. Jack has meant a great deal to me over the course of the last year that I have been able to have him as a coach.  Most importantly, Jack instilled a mentality into me, and I sense others too, that other coaches and sports had failed to do previously.  He inspired a mindset that had a never-ending desire to learn and to improve.  This psyche transcended the WWU Crew, and into my academics, work, and relationships with other people.  Having never rowed before I came to WWU, Jack coached in a way that empowered me with knowledge, skills, and lessons that would make me a better rower, student, friend, and person.  Equivalently, when he coached me, he did so in a manner that humbled me, I still had much strength to gain, knowledge to learn, and skills to  improve on.  This new character of mine that was created, thanks to Jack, was noticed by my peers; I worked harder to become the best possible rower, student, and person I could be, I encouraged my teammates and peers to do likewise.  However, in all of this, I still didn’t lose my individuality; like Jack, I was still able to to joke around, have fun, and live my life in bliss, regardless of time of day, physical pain, or mental stress. As head coach, Jack created an environment that allowed the team to grow as individuals, as a team, and as brothers.  Friendships were forged and gains were created; medals were won and stories were recited that I will tell for years to come.  I value my time on the team with Jack as head coach, as my life has forever been changed for the better.” Grant Williams, Class of 2018

Comments are open for other rowers and alumni.

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One thought on “Head Coach Jack Marolich

  1. Dear Jack, I want to add mine and Jan’s thanks and good wishes to this amazing tribute the boys have put together for you. I remember when Joe first started crew at Western with no prior experience that he would call me after practice and tell me how bad he was and how intimidating you were. But you had the right combination of toughness and encouragement that made Joe want to stick with it. And to quote a guy I don’t know, Brutus Hamilton, in an early edition of The Rigger, “It is one of the strange ironies of life that those who work the hardest, who subject themselves to the strictest discipline, who give up certain pleasurable things in order to achieve a goal, are the happiest.” This is the life lesson that these rowers have learned from you. Thank you for everything you have taught Joe, for the fun times you made possible for us, and may God bless you always.

    ~ Paula and Jan Gregersen (and Ace)

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