Two graduates from Northeastern University, Jim Dietz and Mark Wilson have been running international rowing camps for 20 years, where they provide high-level coaching to experienced rowers. This is a full-time business and they cover around 25-35 camps around the world annually. They returned to Boston last month to run one of their All-American Rowing Camps.
This year marked their 20th anniversary in business together. Their partnership was drawn from Wilson’s senior thesis in entrepreneurship at Northeastern University. The thesis focused on ideas about a business in rowing. Wilson wanted to make more out of rowing than just coaching it at the colleges or high-school level. Business is thriving now, but initially, they worried about whether this idea would work. He recalls the first winter camp where they had only eight people signed up. Now, they will hold upcoming camps in Portugal, Florida, Croatia, and Slovenia.
As a sport, rowing has been growing exponentially, driven by the popularity of women’s rowing. Dietz says that they have done their part, entrepreneurially, to drive those gains. The ages of their campers range from the mid-30s to the late-70s. In their aim for a ratio of one coach for every four or five rowers, Dietz and Wilson will hire in one or two additional coaches to help run each camp.
According to Wilson, nearly 85 percent of their clients come back. A lot of them are coaches who have been drawn to the camps by the aura of Dietz, who rowed in three Olympics and coached American teams in another three. They use videos from an overhead drone as well as from a range-of-motion coaching app to break down each rower’s stroke. However, the real strength of the camp derives from their hard-earned ability to recognise the weaknesses and convert them, constructively, into strengths.
“All of the campers, whether they’re getting Mark in the morning or me in the afternoon, are getting a reinforcement of the same message. I just love it when they come off the water knowing that they’ve improved, knowing that they’ve figured something out”, says Dietz.
Shahjadi Jemim Rahman