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Ann Arbor Rowing Club


AARC Coaches

Russell Giacobbe
Director & Head Coach

Russ is the director of the club and primarily coaches the morning sweep practices and also serves as the club's boatman. In 2019, he opened Marshall Shell Repair, a boat repair company and works with programs throughout the midwest to keep their fleets up and running.  From Fall of 2011 to Spring of 2021 Russ was the freshman coach at Michigan where he led ten classes of freshmen and served as the lead recruiter for the program. He expanded the program's recruitment of high school athletes to an average of 10 students per class. His crews have earned 31 medals at Dad Vails, ECACs and ACRA.

During the Summer of 2015 he served as an assistant coach for the United States World University Games Team in Chunjui, South Korea. Giacobbe was responsible for the heavy and lightweight singles and the double.

Biz Kurcz
Sweep/Sculling Coach

Biz started her rowing career at Pioneer with top accomplishments in the Men's Senior V4+, finishing 1st at MSRA and 2nd at CSSRA. She continued racing at Michigan State, placing 3rd at Big Tens with her novice crew.  Biz was MSUs Head Manager for the remainder of her undergraduate career. Biz was then an Assistant Coach at OLSM. During that time, the team won three State Championships and finished 1st in the J8+ at SRAA. Biz has been coaching at AARC since 2019 and continues sculling in her spare time. 

Lauren Schmetterling
Morning Sweep Coach

Lauren joins the morning sweep group this summer and brings a large breadth of experience to the club. She serves as an assistant coach and lead Novice coach with the University of Michigan Women’s rowing team. She joined the staff as a graduate assistant on July 8, 2021. Schmetterling was elevated to the full-time staff in July, 2022, and is in her first year as an assistant coach in the 2022-23 season.

Schmetterling joined the staff following a seven-year stint as part of the USRowing roster (2013-19), where she won gold medals at the World Championships, World Rowing Cup and Olympic stages. While coaching at U-M, Schmetterling will pursue a master's degree in sport management.

A native of Voorheis, N.J., Schmetterling graduated from Moorestown high school in 2006 and went on to Colgate University, where she earned CRCA All-America second team honors, becoming the program's second-ever All-American on the heels of winning the collegiate double sculls (2x) title at the USRowing Collegiate Championships in 2010. She earned a degree in economics from Colgate while lettering from 2007-10.

After graduating, Schmetterling trained in Boston at the Riverside Boat Club under Tom Keister. In 2012, she was invited to the national training center for USRowing in Princeton, N.J. In 2012, Schmetterling won the open single sculls and double sculls events at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta.

She has been part of 2013, 2014, and 2015 World Championship teams, winning gold medals with the 8+. She returned to the World Championships stage as part of the 2017 and 2019 teams, finishing fourth in the former year. She also was an alternate on the 2018 roster. Schmetterling was named U.S. Rowing Fan's Choice National Team Athlete of the Year in 2015. She also has competed in many World Rowing Cup events and was part of a world record-breaking performance in the 8+ at the 2013 World Rowing Cup III.

Schmetterling made her Olympic debut in 2016 in Rio de Janiero, winning a gold medal with the 8+. In doing so, she became Colgate's third-ever Olympic medalist, the first female Olympian from the school, the first gold medalist ever to attend Colgate and the first medalist of any kind since 1972.

Schmetterling was inducted into Colgate's Hall of Honor in 2017.

Tejas Thiyagarajan
Sweep Coach

Tejas is a pre-medical student at the University of Michigan. In high school, Tejas competed with Norcal Crew at the national level placing 6th and 10th in the Mens U17 8+ and Varsity 8+ respectively. Before AARC, Tejas coached Masters Rowing to both novice and experienced groups at the Bair Island Aquatic Center for two summers.


While Michigan’s range of climate remains largely unfamiliar to this Bay Area local, he’s grown quite familiar with the Huron River. Outside of coaching, Tejas loves sculling, playing guitar, and photography. You may even be able to catch him at a local open-mic.

Don Wright
Sweep Coach


Todd Gocken
Sweep Coach

Todd Gocken is the current Associate Head Coach of the Michigan Men's Rowing Team. Todd started with Michigan as the Assistant Varsity Coach under Coach Hartsuff in 2018 and 2019.

Todd was a founding member of his collegiate rowing club at Wabash College in 1991. He continued his competitive rowing career after college at Lincoln Park Boat Club in Chicago, Illinois, where he eventually began coaching and served on the club's board of director's in 2008-2010. While in Chicago, Todd also served as Assistant Coach for the University of Chicago Crew and Men's Head Rowing Coach at Northwestern University Rowing. In 2017-2018 Todd was the Head Novice Coach at Michigan State University Crew Club where his rowers finished in the top 7 novice teams at ACRA.

Todd has served as the Program Director for the Chicago Training Center Juniors Program, Northampton Community Rowing, and the University of Illinois Rowing Teams, where he has developed a track record of conducting successful recruiting and producing competitive novice and varsity rowers.

Todd is originally from Champaign, Illinois and now lives in the Ann Arbor area. He also teaches Middle School for Ann Arbor Public Schools.

Patrick Klaassen
Technical Sweep Coach

Patrick coaches the Technical program with the club. He focuses on creating a path for newer rowers to advance as athletes towards joining our open group. From the most basic rowing stroke, he always wants to simplify things and give our athletes a chance to learn new skills on the water.

All the way back in 2004, Patrick learned how to row with the University of Colorado lightweight men. After being kicked out of his dorm room at 4am, he ended up being half-dragged down to the reservoir and thrown into four seat in a novice eight. Finally, he found a home in the boats a sport that rewards having huge lungs and tree trunk legs. Unlike distance running.

Now you can find him rowing his single up and down the Huron, writing copy for small businesses, and more than likely sampling all the local breweries every week.

 Emma Bassett
Technical/Open Evening Sweep Coach

Emma is in her first year of working with the club and looking to log some more time in a coaching launch on Argo. She is familiar with both Argo and the boathouse, having rowed with Pioneer High School and just finishing a year of  coaching the novice girls there while attending the University of Michigan. Emma is working with the evening sweep group helping with both the technical and open boats.

Tom Kraft
Head Sculling Coach

Tom serves as the clubs lead sculling coach and learned to row with AARC in 1999.  In the past Tom has served as the clubs boatman and Learn to Row coach. He spent 8 years as the Head Coach for Huron High School Rowing team for coaching all programs except Novice Boys.   During the summers he served as a sculling coach at Black Bear Sculling Camps. He is the former Midwest sales rep for Vespoli and co-owns RowKraft, a company that specializes in rowing related products . Tom tends to spend a lot of miles hauling boats and trailers.

Barb Kraft
Sculling Coach

Barb will be working with the sculling program this year and learned to row with AARC in 1998. She has previously coached the AARC Learn to Row program. For the last 13 years she served as the Novice Girls' Coach for Huron Rowing. She has also spent summers as a sculling coach at Black Bear Sculling Camps. She is co-owner of RowKraft a company that specializes in rowing related products. Barb has many past lives including as a camp director, and currently buys bacon by the pallet at Zingerman's.

Jerry Hoffman
Sculling Coach

Jerry will be working with the sculling program this summer, both LTS and sculling practices. He came to Ann Arbor in 1972 to attend the University of Michigan Engineering School. After graduation, he worked in both Aerospace and Automotive for 33 years. Jerry has coached for AARC, Huron High School, and is completing his 9th year as a volunteer coach for the University of Michigan Men’s Crew. Most mornings, you can see him on the water in his yellow Hudson single. 

Maggie Zimmer-Parsons
Sculling Coach

Maggie rejoins the staff this summer having coached with the club in the summer of 2020 during the summer of singles.  She comes off a spring of coaching the Michigan men's rowing team assisting with the varsity men.  Maggie is a longtime member of the Ann Arbor rowing community having rowed and coached at Huron High School for a number of years.  This summer she will be working with the sculling program.


AARC endeavors to make rowing accessible to the broad community.  Scholarships are available to those with financial need to support participation.  
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