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Western Reserve coach up for U.S. Rowing coach of the year

November 26, 2018

Western Reserve coach up for U.S. Rowing coach of the year

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Rowing keeps growing in Cleveland. And for the first time, the head coach of the Western Reserve Rowing Association is up for the U.S. Rowing Coach of the Year.

Kirk Lang, who also serves as executive director of the overarching Cleveland Rowing Foundation, is one of four finalists for U.S. Rowing Fan’s Choice Masters Coach of the Year. It’s a first-time honor for Lang and Western Reserve Rowing, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year.

You can vote until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday here.

“It’s awesome. It’s really an honor to be nominated by the team and other members of the rowing community,” Lang said in a phone interview Monday. “It’s really showing that Midwest rowing, specifically Western Reserve, can really perform on the national level with the East and West Coast teams.”

The traditionally East Coast prep school sport is exploding with students and adults in Cleveland.

Crew actually started in Cleveland in 1855, when the Ivanhoe Boat Club and its rival club, the Ydrad Rowing Club, raced regularly on the Cuyahoga River. But due to heavy industrial traffic, rowing shells were forced off the river in the 1860s.

Western Reserve resurrected crew here in 1989 with the Cleveland Rowing Foundation boathouse in Rivergate Park. The Foundry opened last year to give students more access to rowing. Now rowers from both boathouses dodge freighters, ferry boats, tour boats, kayaks and stand-up paddleboarders in the Cuyahoga.

Nearly 1,600 Clevelanders row regularly from the Rowing Foundation, including high schools, colleges and about 700 adults in casual summer rowing, an intermediate group and the men’s and women’s masters teams, which practice about three times a week.

Lang has been the masters head coach for eight seasons. The team earned second in team efficiency points at the Canadian Henley this year and won the Team Points Trophy at the Head of the Hooch in Chattanooga, Tennessee, ranking first out of 84 teams.

And the Rowing Foundation’s Head of the Cuyahoga regatta draws more than 500 boats each September. Lang hopes U.S. Rowing will bring the national masters regatta back to the Cuyahoga, as well.

“It’s a crazy river,” Lang said. “People love to be on it.”

In the coaches’ competition, Lang is facing rowing coaches from California, Washington and Tennessee, and the winner -- based on total votes -- will be announced Wednesday.

“It’s Cleveland against the world,” Lang said. “We’re trying to get everyone to say, Cleveland has something to offer, and showcase our boathouse, our organization.”

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