Jane Gumley to lead women’s rowing team as interim coach

Sports Sports | Lifestyle

UVic alumnus takes over following resignation of Barney Williams

Photo sourced from UVic.

The Vikes women’s rowing team will have a new head coach for the 2021-22 season: UVic alumnus and former national team athlete Jane Gumley. 

Gumley graduated from UVic in 2013. She has worked with the coxswains of the men’s and women’s teams ever since. In 2018, Gumley rowed for the national team. She brings coaching experience from the Victoria Rowing Club and was also an assistant coach for the Vike’s men’s team during the 2020-21 season.

“I’ve witnessed many different coaching styles at all levels, and I believe that everything I’ve learned over the years, especially those years spent on the national team, has provided me with an understanding of how to positively drive athletes to meet their goals,” Gumley said in an emailed statement. “This will help me guide the team and meet the standards of varsity athletics while continuing to provide a culture of growth and inclusion.”

The team’s former coach, Barney Williams, was the subject of abuse allegations, followed by UVic and Rowing Canada investigations. The Rowing Canada investigation concluded this spring and barred Williams from coaching for a year. Former rower Lily Copeland has also launched an ongoing lawsuit against Williams and UVic, alleging that Williams was abusive and that the institution neglected to provide her with support. 

Following Williams’ resignation in a mutual agreement with UVic, UVic needed to find a new coach for the upcoming season. Gumley will take over until a formal hiring process can be completed, following the Brown Cup in March. 

“The appointment is based on competency, familiarity and a willingness shown by the interim coach to best progress and lead the program in the short term,” Director of Varsity Performance Sport Nick Clarke said. “Jane has exhibited all these qualities.”

Gumley will be supported by mentors, including formal mentors Dana Agar-Newman, men’s coach Aalbert Van Schothorst, and Clarke. Informally, former women’s coach Rick Crawly and former men’s coach Howie Campbell will also act as mentors. Crawley retired in 2018 after 35 years as the women’s coach — Williams was hired thereafter. 

Going forward, Gumley says she doesn’t plan to make any drastic changes and that she feels fortunate to be stepping into a program where the athletes already have a lot of drive. She also plans to focus on engaging with alumni and boosting fundraising initiatives so that the team can afford new equipment.

At the time of writing, the team is hoping that COVID-19 will not dramatically interfere with this year’s season. After a year without any races, they plan to compete in the CURU’s National Championship traditionally held in late September.