Director of Programs – Paul Coomes

Paul Coomes’ journey in rowing started 25 years ago, where he and 14 other students helped start up a small club rowing program at the University of Dayton. His 3+ years of rowing at Dayton could be termed forgettable in terms of results on the water, but his biggest victory came in helping to build a sustainable rowing program that was both competitive and respected not only within the rowing community but also by the University. When he graduated, he volunteered to coach Dayton’s men’s team and discovered his true passion in life – coaching. For three years, he led a Dayton men’s rowing team that experienced significant growth and improved results.

A move to Philadelphia in the fall of 1998 and a chance encounter led to Paul being hired as the Head Coach for Conestoga High School’s yet-to-be-started rowing team. While he had no experience coaching junior athletes, he was excited to have the opportunity to build a new program in what he considers to be rowing nirvana, Philadelphia and Boathouse Row. During his 18 years coaching Conestoga, he built the Club into one of the most respected rowing organizations in the region and the team into a scholastic sculling powerhouse, coaching crews to 21 Stotesbury Cup titles, 25 Scholastic National Championships and multiple gold, silver, and bronze medals at the USRowing Youth Nationals Championships. He was named the Schuylkill Navy Coach of the Year in 2007 and the 2014 American Junior Coaching Conference Girls Sculling Coach of the Year and in 2006, in what he considers to be the highlight of his coaching career, his girls 4x won the Schools/Junior 4x at the Women’s Henley Regatta.

His summers and falls as Conestoga’s coach were spent helping his wife startup PA Rowing Camps, a summer program dedicated to teaching adults and juniors to row, and coaching crews of various levels for several clubs along Boathouse Row, including Undine, Bachelors Barge Club and Crescent Boat Club. Numerous crews under his guidance found success at the junior, intermediate, senior, and elite level. He served as the coach for the US Lightweight Men’s 1x at the 2009 World Championships in Poland. While at Undine, the Club won the Colgan Cup and the Marion D. Ventura Women’s Points Trophy in 2001. His crews also won the Head of the Charles in 2000, 2001, and 2003, the Canadian Henley in 2002 and multiple Club National Championships between 2000 and 2003.

Paul is a degreed engineer and when not involved in the sport of rowing has worked in various professional roles, including project management, product development and innovation management. Paul resides in the East Falls section of Philadelphia with his wife, Amy Giddings, and their three children – Turner (11), Noah (9), and Autumn (6).

Paul can be reached at programs@pennac.org.