Chris Czarnecki (Head Coach): My rowing career began under fortuitous circumstances. Due to a knee injury that prevented me from playing football at Grand Valley State, I chose to check out the rowing team as way to continue my rehabilitation and try something new. That was fall 1994. Since then, not a night has gone by where rowing wasn’t the last thing I thought about, nor a morning arrived where rowing wasn’t the first thing on my mind.
While rowing at Grand Valley, I was definitely at the right place at the right time. There was excellent leadership within the rowing team and within the university that helped the team grow through the mid-nineties. I credit University President Arend Lubbers for seeing the potential for rowing at Grand Valley and supporting it as generously as he did. Coach Richard Lawrence was also key in helping to advance the expectations of the team and in giving the team the tools to meet those expectations. We also had outstanding student leaders like Shane Szalai who worked tirelessly with the university to provide opportunity for oarsmen and women, like making possible trips to the Royal Henley Regatta in England in 1996 and 1998.
Just as importantly, I was surrounded by great teammates. I met athletes who, through their examples and through their expectations, challenged me to give more of myself than I thought I could. The long rows and longer road trips cemented the relationships I built during my four years on the team. Since then, I have seen teammates become husband and wife, mom and dad, and maybe, just maybe, future Eaglets.
I have been at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s for 12 years. In that time, I have seen my fair share of fast crews, surprising crews, and disappointing crews. All of it is part of the journey and the experience that I love to share with the young men of St. Mary’s. My hope is to be able to make St. Mary’s the right place at the right time for every young man who walks through our boathouse doors.
Don Wright (Varsity): Don rowed four years at Saint Mary's and graduated in 2010. Some accomplishments include: 2nd place in the Men's Lightweight 4+ at the Midwest Championship Regatta, 5th place in the Men's Lightweight 4+ at the SRAA National Championship, and winning both the Men's and Overall State Championship team points trophies as a senior. Don went on to coach at Pioneer Rowing Club, highlighted by back-to-back appearances in the lightweight 4+ grand final at the Youth National Championship. Don has been coaching since 2010 and this his second year coaching at St. Mary's.
Biz Kurcz (Varsity): Biz rowed and coxed during her four years with Pioneer Rowing club and graduated in 2009. Top accomplishments include: in the Men's Sr. 4+, 2nd place at the CSSRA Regatta and 1st place at the Midwest Championship Regatta, followed by a trip to the Youth National Championship. Biz was a preferred freshman coxswain for the MSU Women's Varsity program, but rowed to a 3rd place finish in the 2nd Novice 8+ at the Big Ten Championship. She continued on as the Head Manager and Director of Operations for the program until she graduated in 2013. Biz currently researches seating comfort for an automotive supplier and will be completing her MBA in 2017. Biz is in her second year of coaching.
Robert Clemente (Novice): Robert rowed four years at Saint Mary's and graduated in 2009. Some accomplishments include three Gold Medals at the State Championship Regatta and Two Silver Medals from the Midwest Championship Regatta. After high school, Robert went on to row for four years at the University of Michigan and graduated in 2013. Some accomplishments include 4 ACRA National Championships, 3 ECAC/NIRC Championships, a Bronze Medal from the Dad Vail Regatta, and a Silver Medal from the Head of the Charles Regatta. Robert is currently in his final year of Law School. This is Robert's third year of coaching.
Aamod Dekhne (Varsity): Prior to coaching at St. Mary's, Aamod rowed for the University of Michigan Rowing Team from 2010-2014, winning a silver medal in the Men's Varsity Pair at the ACRA National Championships his senior year.
Aamod graduated from Detroit Country Day School and holds a BS in Biophysics from the University of Michigan. He is currently in the second year of the MD/PhD program at Wayne State University School of Medicine. This is Aamod's 2nd year of coaching.
Shane Doyle (Varsity): "Rowing was indeed a singular experience." That is how a former oarsman I knew described his time at Harvard. I believe many men of St. Mary's understand and appreciate this statement too.
Coach Doyle rowed four years at St. Mary's and graduated in 1989. Shane attended Temple University and was an oarsman and captain of the 1993 crew that won a Dad Vail gold medal in the men's heavy 8+.
Shane is actively involved with preparation and race day officiating of the St. Mary's Laddie Cup regatta.
- 3 x Gold - Dad Vail Regatta, Men’s 8+, Men's JV 8+, Men's Frosh 8+
- 2 x Jr. National Team Candidate
- 3rd Place - Head of the Charles, Men's Frosh 4+
- 2 x Sea Isle City Doubles Champion, Ocean Rowing
Shane currently leads brand partnerships at TuneIn while trying to stay connected with St. Mary's crew alum in hopes of having them volunteer at our home regatta.