Mike Irwin

Mike IrwinPhoto credit: Mark Stehle

WHO HE IS: Head Coach, Penn Men’s Lightweight Rowing

YEARS AT PENN: Six

WHAT HE DOES: Though the main rowing season is in the spring, Irwin says coaching is a year-round, full-time job—when he’s not coaching, he’s recruiting, or fundraising, or handling any number of other tasks that need to get done if the program is to continue “There’s a lot of different hats you have to wear in this job,” says Irwin, who came to Penn after serving as an assistant rowing coach at Yale.

WHY ROWING?: Irwin was a high school hockey player. One day, he noticed that some of his teammates had shown up to class, hands blistered, looking tired. “I asked them, ‘What are you guys doing?’ They said they had gotten into rowing. I tried it, and that was it for me.”

TEAMWORK: “The team environment is the thing that stands out to me,” Irwin says of rowing. “That’s always been the most fun. In rowing, you’re not going to be successful without the people around you. It’s hard to be a solo superstar in this sport.”

Originally published on November 15, 2007