Getting to know Iowa rowing’s coxswains

Sophomore Katie Becker and Senior Logan Jones play a role on the Iowa rowing team that people don’t know much about: coxswaining.


Michael Guhin

An Iowa coxswain waves to the Iowa tents as her boat heads back after a race in the first session of a women’s rowing meet on Lake MacBride on Saturday April 13, 2019. Iowa won 3 out of 12 races with the varsity 8 crew winning both races for the day.

Sarah Altemeier, Sports Reporter

Most people know the general role athletes play on their respective sports teams. Wide receiver? Catches passes. Point guard? Makes plays and handles the ball. Goalie? Guards the goal. But what does a coxswain do?

The coxswain sits at the stern of the boat, navigating the rowing crew through the river or lake. Iowa rowing’s varsity coxswains are Logan Jones and Katherine Becker.

“To be a good coxswain, you have to be able to — we’re steering almost 60-foot-long boats — so you have to be able to steer well,” Jones said. “You have a rudder on the boat that you steer with. You have to be able to make calls and keep the rhythm in the boat for the rowers because we operate as one unit, so everyone has to be synced up. [You have to be] able to motivate people during races. If you’re neck-and-neck in [a] race, like we were last year against Ohio State, being able to make critical calls to get the rowers to produce a power that we need to excel.”

Both of the athletes attend Iowa to be nurses. Becker is a sophomore, and Jones will start her job in the neonatal intensive care center here in Iowa City after graduating in May.

Jones is the coxswain of the I Varsity 8 boat. Before coming to Iowa, Jones was on the diving team at Valley High in West Des Moines. Standing at 5-feet tall, she knew her height may be an advantage for a coxswain, so she emailed coach Andrew Carter, and the rest is history.

Through being a coxswain, this senior has learned how to lead while working alongside others.

“I have definitely learned a lot of leadership skills,” she said. “As a coxswain, you’re definitely one of the leaders on the team. You’re with four or eight different rowers in the boat. So, being able to maintain a balance of being a leader but also working with the rowers and with the coaches.”

RELATED: Hawkeye rowing has success, room for improvement at lone home meet

Becker came to Iowa from Muscatine and also joined the Iowa rowing team to be a coxswain with hopes of learning leadership skills. Iowa’s I Varsity 4 boat coxswain has learned even more than that in her first two years.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot about other people on my team and how to communicate with others more effectively. I’ve learned to take every day and make it the best you can, because tomorrow is never guarnteed. Especially with rowing. We never know if we are going to get on the river the next day or not, so just taking every second we have on the water, and making the best of it, and just transferring this into my daily life. Being positive in every aspect.”

The two also shared their hidden talents. Jones has a special knack for catching food in her mouth, and if someone gives her a word, she can automatically come up with a song that goes with it.

Becker’s talent is a tad different.

“My hidden talent would be that I’m a very good cold-water swimmer, and I like to practice that in Muscatine because I’m a Muscatine river rat,” Becker said and laughed.

With this weekend’s races being canceled, the two Hawkeyes won’t steer their teammates through the competition until April 27 in Austin, Texas, in the Longhorn Invitational.