IRL Fellows

IRL Fellows at CRI

Meet the incoming Class of 2020 and the graduating Class of 2019 IRL Fellows!

Class of 2020 (Starting July 1, 2019)

Beckham IRL Headshot

Dan Beckham

B.A. - College of the Holy Cross

Dan began his rowing career as a walk-on to the men’s team at Holy Cross in the fall of 2015. As a freshman, he spent his first spring season in the program’s fifth varsity eight. During his sophomore and junior years, Dan progressed through the ranks and raced several times in the first varsity eight - winning races and contributing to program victories along the way (including the varsity eight bronze medal at the Murphy Cup in 2017). 

While at Holy Cross, Dan developed an interest in rowing-specific sports videography. Since 2015, he has annually created videos that highlight rowing at Holy Cross. Dan has also had the opportunity to produce video content for rowing clubs up and down the east coast. More recently, Dan has taken an interest in live broadcasting, and hopes to use his time in the IRL to develop solutions that make rowing broadcasting less expensive and more accessible. 

Outside of rowing, Dan enjoys photography, DJing, and woodworking.    

Kirsten Girard IRL Class of 2020

Kirsten Girard

B.S. - University of Tennessee (expected May 2019)

Kirsten Girard began rowing in the summer after 8th grade in Seattle, Washington. After starting high school on Vashon Island, she joined their rowing club where she found her passion for being on the water and competing. She competed in three consecutive Youth National Championships in a variety of sculling boats, medaling in one at the end of her junior year.

After high school, Kirsten was recruited to row for the University of Tennessee. While there, she has medaled at the Big 12 Conference Championships in the varsity 8+ every spring, and she recently earned a medal at the Head of the Charles Regatta with her teammates. To get her start in coaching, Kirsten has coached the learn-to-row camp at Stanford University, the masters team at the Duwamish Rowing Club in Seattle, and was the assistant coach for Northwest Rowing Center's high school team. She loves being able to work with athletes at all levels!

Outside of rowing, Kirsten loves exploring new places, watching football, and drinking lots of coffee!

Alex Lynn IRL Class of 2020

Alex Lynn

B.A.- Ithaca College

Originally from Vermont, Alex began his rowing journey in the Fall of 2012 at Ithaca College. Looking for a new sport to engage in, he joined the Ithaca Men’s program as a walk-on, and quickly fell in love with the sport due to their inclusive culture, and the physical and mental demand Ithaca Crew has to offer. Over the course of four years, he worked his way up the ranks; earning a spot in the Men’s 1V8, medaling in the New York State Collegiate Championships in 2016, and winning the Tallman Award for Excellent Oarsman that same year.

After graduating with a degree in History and minor in Islamic Studies, Alex continued to live in Ithaca, NY. As the assistant coach and boathouse manager at Cascadilla Boat Club he has worked with athletes of all levels, from adults to middle schoolers. Alex enjoys training in the 1x himself and has primarily worked with the Varsity and Novice Men’s’ program. His contributions have helped both teams win multiple races over the course of three years, including several medals and grand final appearances at the New York State Scholastic Championships. He was promoted to Men’s Head Coach in 2017.

Outside of rowing, Alex enjoys football, yoga, woodworking, and trying/cooking the most unique foods out there.

Ben MacDougald IRL Class of 2020

Ben MacDougald

B.A. – College of the Holy Cross (expected May 2019)

Ben MacDougald began rowing in the fall of 2011 at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford Connecticut. He spent one season as a novice rower and then transitioned to the coxswain seat in the Spring of 2012. In the coxswain seat, Ben found his love of rowing and found satisfaction in helping his oarsmen improve year after year. He coxed the Varsity 4+ for two years before accepting an offer to go to the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

A four year member of the Holy Cross rowing team, Ben was the recipient of the Francis ‘Bud’ Ermilio Freshman Award in 2016. He was in the boat that set the course record at the Quinsigamond Snake Regatta in the Fall of 2016, and was also part of a Varsity 4+ that qualified for Grand Finals at the IRA regatta in 2018. Ben has coached novices and masters at Old Lyme Rowing Association, and volunteered to work with the novice coach at Holy Cross. He was encouraged to apply to the IRL when a fellow in the class of 2019, Kevin McCarthy, did his practicum at Holy Cross.

When away from the boathouse, Ben likes the Baltimore Ravens, his dogs, and comic books.

John ONeill IRL Class of 2020

John O’Neill

B.S. - Fairfield University

John O’Neill, Originally from Abington MA, spent his college career rowing with Fairfield University in Fairfield CT where he played an integral role growing the program to where multiple boats compete at the IRA level and the team is recognized with a national ranking in the Men’s Lightweight 8+.

During his tenure at Fairfield University, he began his coaching career with Fairfield Preparatory High School and later moved on to be the Assistant Varsity Coach with Norwalk River Rowing in Norwalk, CT.

Upon completion of his Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering he accepted the Assistant Coaching position with Massachusetts Maritime Academy for the Fall of 2018, being promoted to Head Women’s Coach for the Spring 2019 Season. When not coaching John is also a Personal Trainer, actively studying for his Personal Trainer Certification.

In his free time John enjoys bodybuilding, fishing, reading and music. He is excited for the year to come and can’t wait for the opportunities ahead through the IRL.

Aisyah Rafaee IRL Class of 2020

Aisyah Rafa'ee

B.A. - National University of Singapore

Aisyah grew up in Singapore where she picked up rowing in 2005 and has represented Team Singapore as a rower from 2005-2016. She mainly rowed in the single sculls, but has competed in the double sculls and pairs. Aisyah trained with Mosman Rowing Club in Sydney, Australia from 2013-2016 where she had the opportunity to represent New South Wales in the Women's Single Scull at the Australian National Championships in 2016. She became the first and only rower to represent Singapore at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. In 2018, after 13 years of competitive rowing, she made the tough decision to hang up her oars. She is currently rowing with CRI's Women's Competitive Team because her hands and legs were itching to get back into the boat. 

Aisyah owes her successes as a rower to her coaches who believed in her and have dedicated their time for her. This is her source of inspiration to explore coaching, hoping to be able to pass the deed forward and help other rowers achieve their goals. Aisyah has experiences as a Learn-To-Row coach in Australia and Singapore and has also coached for one summer at Craftsbury Rowing Camp in Vermont in 2018. She is excited to see what the IRL program has to offer and how it can help her become a leader and a role model in the sport.

Besides rowing, Aisyah loves to run and cycle and hopes to compete and complete her first marathon this year. Aisyah is currently taking up a Personal Training Certification and will be starting her Masters in Sport Psychology after the IRL in 2020. She strongly believes in the benefits of mental skills training and hopes to increase the awareness on the importance of mental strength in becoming a great athlete. 

Aisyah is new to Boston, only having recently moved here from tropical Singapore in early 2019 to live with her fiancé and hopes that the New England weather will be kind to her! 

IRLFellows2019 2

Class of 2019 (Graduating June 15, 2019)

ResizedImage130149 Galen Bernick Headshot

Galen Bernick

B.A. - Mercyhurst University

Galen Bernick started rowing spring of 7th grade and started racing in the blistering heat of Tempe, AZ at the local city program where he fell in love with the sport shortly after hitting the water. Soon enough he transitioned to the club team on the lake, which started his competitive career. Though high school he swam as well as rowed, but nothing deterred him from the sport of rowing. Over the course of his high school career he went to compete at Youth Nationals in sculling events. During the summer of his sophomore year he discovered his potential with the help of the coaching staff at Seattle Rowing Center and this led him to race for the Junior National Team in the 2x.

After high school, Galen was recruited to row at Mercyhurst University for the lightweight men's program and was able to try his hand on the sweep side of rowing competing at Dad Vails and IRA. During the summers, he raced for Vesper and SoCal Scullers striving to make the U23 national team for lightweight sculling. During the 2016 summer was badly injured, which took him out for half a year, but he made a comeback and qualified for the U23 team in 2017 in the lightweight 2x.

Outside of rowing Galen enjoys traveling, exploring the outdoors, cycling, and a wicked cup of coffee. He is excited to bring his ability as an athlete to the coaching side of the sport, to be able to share his passion of the sport of rowing with all levels of rowers.

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Sydney Dollmeyer

B.A. - Wellesley College

Sydney Dollmeyer grew up in the Mad River Valley in Vermont and later moved to Hawaii for high school, where she ultimately discovered her love for water sports. At Punahou School, she competitively raced ocean kayaks and outrigger, which spurred her interest in rowing in college.

Hoping to experience the four seasons again, she returned to New England for her undergraduate degree at Wellesley College, where she began her rowing journey as a novice. Later in the year she competed at the NCAA Championship in the 1V8+ and placed third as a team. Over the next couple years she rowed with Thompson Boat Club in Washington D.C. in 2013 as well as CRI for both the U23 and Open teams in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Sydney finished her rowing career back at Wellesley College to ultimately win the NCAA Championship in 2016 while being named individually to the DIII All American Team. She also was a two-time winner of the Seven Sisters All Conference Team.

Sydney’s coaching experience stems from her time spent as Director at Central Vermont Gymnastics Academy from 2014-2015, where she coached private lessons, recreational programs and competitive team in accordance to Junior Olympic rules and progressions. 

After graduating from Wellesley, Sydney worked as an analyst at an investment consulting firm in Boston; however, she would frequently watch the rowers on the Charles hoping to return to her rowing roots…and now she can! Outside of rowing and excel spreadsheets, Sydney relishes road races and all things fitness, academia, adventuring and multiple mediums of artistic endeavors.

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Emily Dwyer

B.S. - University of Massachusetts, Lowell

Emily Dwyer credits her mother for introducing her to the world of rowing via a Learn to Row class at CRI in 2011. That fall she joined the girls Novice team as a coxswain and the following year moved up to the Boys Varsity and Masters Men’s teams. As a coxswain, she has medaled in three Masters Nationals and participated in four Head of the Charles.

In the summer of 2016, Emily got her first opportunity in coaching working with the same youth summer camp at CRI where it all started for her. Subsequently, she has worked in many of the programs offered at CRI including her current role of Novice Girls assistant coach. Previously, she served as the assistant Boys Novice and Varsity coach for Essex Rowing Club in the spring of 2017.

Outside of practice, Emily enjoys learning about the atmosphere and climate as well as painting, sculpting and wiring lamps.

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Kevin McCarthy

B.A. - Mercyhurst University

Kevin McCarthy began his career in rowing as a coxswain in 2009, spending the next four years coxing for Saint John’s High School in Shrewsbury, MA. His enthusiasm for the water inspired him to commit hours to studying the art of rowing to benefit his teammates both on an off the water. His junior and senior years at Saint John’s he coxed the varsity 8+ before deciding to accept an offer to cox at Mercyhurst University for the lightweight men’s squad.

A four-year coxswain at Mercyhurst, Kevin’s time on the water was punctuated by earning Dad Vails medals and shirts along the way. He was a member of the Lightweight Four that was the first Mercyhurst men’s boat to attend the IRA Regatta in 2015, alongside fellow IRL Classmate, Galen Bernick. Since his graduation, he has been coaching at Saint John’s High School, working with both Varsity and Novice athletes. He has also worked with the Quinsigamond Rowing Association, coaching and coxing for the master’s team.

When not in the boathouse, Kevin is an avid history enthusiast and a Boston sports fan through and through.

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Mitch McManus

Harvard University, Australian Film, TV and Radio School (AFTRS) - Sydney, North Sydney TAFE

Mitch McManus has been leading crews of a different kind in his career to date as an internationally awarded Film & Television Director. He has written, produced and directed commercials for everything from hamburgers to Hollywood blockbusters, however his passion has always been working on sports campaigns, listing NFL, rugby, soccer, cricket, America’s Cup sailing, motor racing and the Olympic Games amongst his many production credits.  

Growing up in Sydney, Australia, Mitch first fell in love with rowing at arguably Australia’s most successful boys’ rowing nursery, the Shore School where he coxed the Junior 4+, 1V 4+ and 1V 8+. Upon graduating High School he continued coxing with Sydney Rowing Club in both the Youth 8+ and the club Gold Cup 8+.  His next intimate connection to the sport came when his daughter started rowing at Sydney’s Queenwood School for Girls in Year 7 and then, following the family’s move back to Boston, at CRI where she raced with the Junior Women’s Varsity Team.

In addition to following his passion for rowing, Mitch loves photography, going to the movies, traveling & pretty much anything to do with being on the water. Having moved around the world for the past ten years with his wife Kathy-Anne and their three kids, Boston is now home. Mitch is thrilled to be attending the IRL and looks forward to bringing his unconventional thinking, unique skills and life experience to the world of rowing. In the words of Kenneth Grahame “There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

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Roman Sammartino

B.A. - University of Colorado, Boulder

Originally from Sacramento, Roman Sammartino moved to Alameda, CA at a young age. During elementary school, he was classmates with the daughter of Oakland Strokes’ Program Director and Women's Novice Coach, Beth Anderson and started rowing with them his Junior year of high school. When he came to the University of Colorado (CU), a few friends in his dorm joined the team and convinced him to get back on the water again. He completed four years rowing with CU--including one spring at University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand, and graduated with a B.A. in Mathematics. Roman pursued a post-collegiate rowing career by purchasing a single and joining Boulder Community Rowing, which gave him an opportunity to row in the Club 4+ at Head of the Charles in 2016. He coached for Colorado Junior Crew his senior year at CU, but didn't fall in love with coaching until he joined the CU Coaching Staff. He looks forward to continue his coaching development through attending the Institute for Rowing Leadership.

Roman's coaching philosophy is centered on effectiveness. While some athletes are born with gifted physiology, anyone can become an effective oarsman with the proper discipline and training. He is extremely passionate about the sport of rowing and strives to spark the same passion amongst his athletes. While his primary duty is to teach rowing, he also encourages his athletes to be better people and to relate lessons from rowing into the real world. Many collegiate rowers choose to put down the oar after they graduate, but the values and skills they learn in the boat stick with them.

Roman has also worked for CU as a computer support technician since 2011, and uses computers and math to integrate technology and data with his coaching. He also learned how to play music at a young age and plays guitar in his free time. While there are a few slopes in New England, he will miss snowboarding in the Rockies while living in Boston. Roman grew up as a San Francisco Giants fan, and enjoys watching professional sports.

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Tom Siddall

B.A. - Fairfield University

Tom Siddall spent his collegiate rowing career at Fairfield University, where he rowed for four years, three of them as a Captain. In this time the team more than doubled, started an endowment, and set the groundwork to have crews compete annually at the IRA regatta. Before rowing at Fairfield, he spent time sculling out of the Mt. Holyoke boathouse in his hometown of South Hadley, MA.

While training in college, Tom began coaching at Maritime Rowing Club (MRC) and New Canaan Crew. Upon completion of his degree, he accepted a position as an Assistant Coach with the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Men’s Rowing team. At the same time, Tom moved from Assistant Coach to Head Coach at the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club in Springfield, MA. Through his tenure the last three years both programs have had both grand final appearances and medal performances at national regattas such as Northeast Regionals, ACRA, New Englands, Club Nationals, and many more.

Finally, in between coaching these two programs, Tom founded his own company Siddall Performance, coaching primarily Masters and U23 athletes. He can’t wait to see what the IRL will bring!


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The Institute for Rowing Leadership is accredited at the highest level (Level 5) offered by USCCE-NCACE and is the only accredited US Coaching Education Program in rowing, ever.