Campbell takes next step after 23-year tenure as men’s rowing coach

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By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications

November 14, 2013, VICTORIA (ISN) – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s rowing program will begin the hunt for a new leader after long-time head coach Howie Campbell will be taking the next step in his coaching career to join Rowing Canada Aviron (RCA).

Campbell guided the Vikes men’s program to six Canadian University Rowing Championship (CURC) titles and will now transition to becoming the Canadian men’s national training centre assistant coach.

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“Howie Campbell’s contribution to the University of Victoria and our Vikes rowing program has been immense,” said Clint Hamilton, director of UVic Athletics and Recreation. “A leader committed to high performance, Howie has worked tirelessly to grow the sport of rowing regionally and nationally and has prepared many UVic alumni for success on the international stage.”

Campbell is no stranger to the international stage having coached off and on with a variety of Canadian national team programs since 1990. Most notably, Campbell was an assistant coach at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

“Howie will be a welcome addition to RCA’s coaching team at the Victoria Training Centre.   Howie has had considerable success at the University level, and has been a great contributor to Rowing Canada’s performances at the Under 23 and Senior levels over the past years.  He brings a level of coaching experience, knowledge and success that will help guide the athletes in our Men’s Program on the road to RIO 2016,” said Peter Cookson, RCA’s Director of High Performance. 

“This is just the next logical step for me in my professional career,” said Campbell. “I feel like the University is at an excellent time for a new leader to build on what I have already helped put in place. I’ve always wanted to work with the national program and now I can put full focus on it.”

The change won’t be a huge stretch for the Edmonton native as the Elk Lake waters are the training grounds for both the Vikes and national team heavyweight programs. Campbell has helped several others make the leap from the post-secondary stage to the international level and on the podium.

“Every year there has been a current or former Vike on the Canadian National squad,” added Campbell, who has coached the likes of Olympians Barney Williams, Kevin Light and Adam Kreek. “It is such a great experience to see the athletes come in to our program in first year and have so much growth so quickly. Some go on to the national team or Olympics and others succeed in other areas – in sport or not.”

Outside of his connection to the national program, Campbell has also become a big fixture in Canadian university rowing. Throughout his career at UVic, Campbell has seen the CURC’s expand from six teams, beginning in 1997, to well-over 20 teams. In 2015 the championship will move for the first time to the eastern waters of the Maritimes further showcasing the growth of the event.

In addition, Campbell has helped foster the Western Canadian University Rowing Championship, which has grown to include schools such as Alberta and Calgary, who will be hosting in 2014.

One of Campbell’s longest standing legacies will be the annual Brown Cup event, which will enter its 22nd year in March 2014. The two-school event featuring Vikes and UBC Thunderbirds alternates hosting venues and was originally set up to model the historic Oxford-Cambridge head-to-head boat race in London, England. The Vikes men currently hold 17 of the 21 Brown Cup titles with their most recent coming in 2011.

The search for a men’s rowing head coach successor will begin in the upcoming months, while a celebration for Campbell’s accomplishments and legacy with the Vikes rowing program will be announced at a later date.

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