"This is my PhD in Rowing"
World Rowing talked to Eva Kovach from the USA, OC Team volunteer for the Control Commission at the World Rowing Junior Championships in Eton.
WR: What are you doing at the World Rowing Junior Championships?
Eva Kovach: I am helping the Control Commission in general, doing paper work, as well as dealing with requests from FISA.
WR: How often have you volunteered for events such as this?
E:The first international event I volunteered at was the Henley Women’s Regatta in 2002. Since then I haven’t missed any opportunity to volunteer at this regatta, mostly acting as the US Liaison. It’s the third time I have worked at Dorney Lake: before I volunteered at the World Rowing CupI in 2005 and the World Rowing Championships in 2006. And I was at the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, which was just phenomenal.
WR: How did you come to volunteer?
E:I’ve been rowing and coaching on my own for a long time and I have gained many great experiences due to it. My godfather, Hart Perry, asked me once if I wanted to give back to rowing what it has given to me and I thought it would be a good idea. So I applied for it.
WR: What is your profession?
E:I hold the position as Adjunct Associate Professor of Physical Education at the Connecticut College and am also the Head Women’s Rowing Coach. Fortunately the university supports my volunteering and considers it as ‘professional development’. Since the academic term implies a semester break of three months in summer time I have never had problems with my absence and with traveling.
WR: What is your favorite boat?
E: The best boat to row on our river is the training single since the conditions can get rough sometimes. But I used to steer in the pair and I still prefer this boat. It’s a team boat but you are in a small team. If you have a good relation to your rowing partner you can work together on your row. And also small boats teach you good technique. Since I am mostly away and volunteering during the regatta season it is hard to find time for regular rowing training. I haven’t been competing since 2003.
WR: Do you plan to come to the Olympic Games in London 2012 as a volunteer or as a spectator?
E: I would love to volunteer. But I realise that it is getting more and more difficult to get a position as a volunteer since the number of people applying for it has been increasing. I wouldn’t mind volunteering in another sport and learning new things but I think I have the best background in rowing. I will just wait and see. You never know. I don’t know yet if I would come to London as a spectator. I put my luck into volunteering. It might be nearly impossible to get any tickets.
WR: What makes volunteering so special?
E: I think volunteering is a fine balance between responsibility and fascination. You don’t work just to please you but to provide the athletes with the best experience they could have. No matter if you have a big or small task you always need to act professionally. And it is important to be polite and smile all the time. That is what we were taught in the training at the Athens Olympics.
In rowing it is important to have a good team at work. In the last years I have found a great group of several people to work with. We meet regularly at different events and it’s good to know everyone’s attitude. I know I can rely on them and that makes a fantastic working atmosphere.
WR: What did Volunteering give you?
E: Volunteering means meeting many international people even outside rowing. Most of the time you need to be hosted and transported by locals so I have made many friends in different countries.
I think I was bitten by the travelling bug so whenever it is possible I come to Europe to see my friends. I met Eva Santos during the World Championships in 2006 and I went to see her in Budapest two years later. She showed me her city and really interesting hidden places. After the Olympics in Athens I stayed with a Greek family for one month and I still keep in touch with them. I try to come over to see them at least once a year.
And of course volunteering at rowing events is the best opportunity to seeing lots of exiting rowing regattas. For me as a coach it is a good to see different approaches to rowing, coaching and supporting the athletes. I was impressed by the way several countries treat their junior rowers, saying that they are their future. I always try to see what to apply for my athletes back home. I absorb as much rowing as possible to improve my coaching skills. I consider this my PhD in rowing.