Posted: January 3, 2018
We took the opportunity to catch up with Paddy Hudson, Glasgow University Boat Club's new Head Coach, as he gets started in his new role.
What caught your eye when the Head Coach post at Glasgow University Boat Club came up?
There’s a great history and tradition with rowing at Glasgow of which I was already aware. More recently I watched the girls’ crews race at Henley Women’s last year and was impressed. It feels like a Club that has a good amount of headroom for further development, and the basics in place to facilitate that development.
What is the role you are leaving to take up position at Glasgow
I’ve been Assistant Coach at Imperial College Boat Club for just over two years. I’ve been at the club since 2008 when I was a novice rower as a fresher; in my final year I was Captain, that got me into coaching and several years later I got this role in 2015.
Over the last few years I’ve done a lot of work with all squads, senior men and women. I’ve coached up to Olympic trials and under 23 trials, but my focus has always been on developing squads and crews rather than just individuals.
To me, Imperial’s programme is about providing a structure through which athletes can grow and develop themselves. We work very much as a team of coaches at this; I’ve been fortunate to lead for some of my time here but it’s always a team effort.
You are making a big move from London to Glasgow to start the post on 3rd January 2018. What are your emotions now?
It was a big decision being faced with the choice of uprooting my life, moving away from my family and girlfriend, and leaving an environment I’ve been in a long time and I feel very confident in. I know the Tideway and the club like the back of my hand so to move was exciting and daunting in equal measures.
But having spent a weekend at GUBC when I spoke with Keith Joss, Euan Smith, Pete Russell as well as alumni, coaches and athletes, I am more excited than ever.
Glasgow seems like a great city and, seeing the Club in action and meeting the people involved, gave me a huge amount of confidence that I am doing the right thing. It’s a great opportunity and a great move.
Nearby Edinburgh University have made huge strides in a short space of time. Obviously Glasgow and Edinburgh’s programmes are very different but does Edinburgh’s progress inspire you?
Having looked at what Edinburgh have achieved over the last few years, and the support they’ve had from Scottish Rowing and Lee Boucher, that makes the move to Scotland very attractive.
I don’t intend to try to copy what Edinburgh are doing, but I do think they have shown what can be achieved in a short space of time with the right attitude and approach. That’s a precedent for us to try and follow in our own way at Glasgow.
What is your vision at this stage (as opposed to specific goals) for the Glasgow programme?
The club has a really good tradition of getting novices into the sport at university level. I want us to continue that and be a club that is bringing in people to the sport who wouldn’t necessarily try rowing otherwise.
I’d like Glasgow to be recognised across Scotland and beyond as a centre for rowing excellence, but above all I’d like to make sure that anyone coming through our doors is getting the chance to realise the fullest level of their potential.
For some this will mean winning a medal at BUCS or qualifying for Henley Women’s or Henley Royal Regattas. For others, as individuals, it will be about getting onto the Scottish team for the Home Internationals and then beyond to the British Under 23 or FISU teams.
That only happens by making sure we have a well developed coaching team that works together which is what I’ve always valued at Imperial, and a committee/student body who are all on the same page.
Give a brief history of your own rowing background and when you discovered an interest in coaching?
As a fresher rowing was completely new to me. I wasn’t naturally, technically gifted but I did have a work ethic and that made rowing a good fit.
I was quite strong and was reaching under 23 ergo standards within a year but it took me a good four or five years to follow that up with a technical ability to match.
I had some respectable results at GB trials, some BUCS medals and high placings at HORR but the big one for me was in 2014 with Sport Imperial BC racing the final of the Thames Challenge Cup at Henley, which we lost by a canvas.
We weren’t the biggest or strongest, we had a lot of challenges to overcome, but it felt natural for me to work with our coach Josh Butler to overcome these challenges in terms of time management, making the training effective and making sure we were going fast regardless.
I was always interested in the details of rowing and keen right from the start to help coaches rig boats, understand how things worked and why we were doing what we were doing.
Later on when I was Captain at ICBC that got me into running novice sessions and when I left university I decided to coach. I was lucky to get a coaching job with Westminster School through the legendary Bill Mason. It’s been a steep learning curve and I’ve been lucky to work with some fantastic coaches and mentors along the way.
How healthy is the programme you are inheriting at Glasgow?
As an overall programme it’s very healthy, which is symptomatic of what Andy (Barton) has done with the help of Iain Docwra and volunteer coaches over the years.
There are good numbers of people that are training hard and there are big, athletic people as well that you need in your programme to make your boats go fast.
On the girls front the club had record numbers at Women’s Eights Head last year and a crew that was really sharp in the senior four. The men had a tough season last year but there are athletes in the programme with plenty of potential.
What do you think of the club’s land and water facilities?
There’s everything we need in Glasgow to produce performances; a gym with a weights area and 20 ergs, a boathouse on a great stretch of water.
I’m keen to make sure our athletes’ training is time efficient and effective and we have facilities to do that. The boathouse is very accessible, the sports centre is even more accessible, plus we have a very supportive e sports department.
Having Strathclyde Park on our doorstep is also a great option for somewhere to train and that’s something we’ll look to do increasingly in future.