Taking Their Team to New Heights, Greg Coffman and Jason Germain Close Their Triton Careers
By Delaney Whittet
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Gliding past the finish line in Rancho Cordova, the University of California San Diego men’s rowing team capped off its impressive 2019 season at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championship on June 2. With the poise and technique of the team, it would be impossible to guess that four years ago, two of the team’s fearless leaders had never competed in the sport before.
Germain was the captain of his high school basketball team and ran on the track team at Paso Robles High School. He walked on to the UC San Diego rowing team in the fall of his freshman year. Coffman competed on his high school football, track, and soccer teams at nearby La Jolla Country Day and was contacted by Assistant Coach Jeff Collett during his senior year.
“Most of my job is trying to find the most passionate rowers who are not burnt out yet from grueling high school programs,” said Collett. “What a walk-on provides is an intense interest in the sport early on, so we catch them when that is at its highest. This is why Greg and Jason have been two of the top performers physiologically on the team for the past four years. They provided the will and we provided the way.”
As freshmen, Coffman and Germain quickly found themselves in competition with one another on the erg. The two were determined to record their best possible scores, Coffman remembered.
“When we were freshmen, we were both really comparable to each other on the erg. It was a measurement of fitness and basically all we did with each other was compete,” said Coffman. “We were constantly pushing each other and then overtime it turned to friendship.”
The two teammates’ ambition has continuously paid off over the last few years, and this past season, the pair garnered their first career All-Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) accolades. Germain was named to the All-WIRA First Team and Coffman to the All-WIRA Second Team after the Tritons swept the WIRA Championships. Not only did Coffman help his crew to a first-place finish, but the recognition was particularly special because of his role as a team captain.
“Greg always brings a lot of energy to practice and his experience as captain has really shown his leadership abilities,” Germain commented. “He’s the guy that you want on your team when you’re going into a race because you know he’s going to pull for the other seven on the boat.”
According to Coffman and Germain, they have seen the team’s competitiveness grow throughout their four years. The men’s crew team recently competed in the IRA National Championship at Lake Natoma from May 31-June 2. This marks the third-straight season the Tritons have qualified for the championship, and is the first time the team has achieved the feat under Director of Rowing Zach Johnson.
“It was an incredible experience to race against the best competition in the world,” said Germain. “It’s both rewarding and frustrating at the same time because we put in so much work and achieved our goal of racing there but after racing there you realize just how far there is to go."
“It’s kind of crazy to see how much the culture has grown,” Coffman added. “I feel great that I got to be a part of the team that got us to this stage right now where we’re turning it into a culture where we are expected to go to the National Championship.”
About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 82 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 37 have earned prestigious NCAA Post Graduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.
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