A GOLD-MEDAL VIEW FROM THE COXSWAIN

mary-whippleOlympic gold medalist Mary Whipple gave some coxing tips to locals Sunday afternoon. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Mary Whipple has an important piece of advice for high school students when they get into college.

“Plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize,” she said.

Not in the classroom, that is, but on the water. Whipple, a gold medal Olympian in rowing, was talking about the keys to becoming a top-notch coxswain to about 20 local high school rowers.

One way to do so, she said, is listen to the coach.

“Start to learn what your coach is saying, then use their words,” she said.

As she did last year, Whipple visited the students at the Fair Haven firehouse to put on a four-hour clinic relaying her experience and expertise to get the kids ready for serious rowing in college.

Whipple, a compact 30-year-old with long blonde hair, had the crowd of students mesmerized, as they scribbled notes and fixed their eyes on her gestures.

She’s certainly somebody worth listening to. In the 2008 Olympics, Whipple’s eight-member team won the gold medal, and she shared in a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics.

A key factor in her getting there, she said, was through practice, and drove that point home to the students.

Running an effective practice, she said, “is definitely your bread and butter.”

“If you don’t like where you are in your hierarchy, then get better at your practice,” she said. “Anything you can establish to make your boat faster in practice is going to help you in the long run.”

And while practice makes perfect, and listening to your coach is key, Whipple said, adding that a good coxswain is a questioning coxswain.

“Don’t be afraid to ask, respectfully, what the point of the practice is,” she said. “Coaches love coxswains who think.”