Annabelle Eaton – Interview


Annabelle is a rowing coach from Australia and joined the Melbourne University Boat Club team in September 2014 after a successful career coaching schoolgirls at St Catherine?s and Melbourne Girls Grammar School where she took their 1st VIII?s to silver, bronze and 3 golds respectively from 2008-2013.

A long career in schoolgirl rowing has stood Annabelle in good stead to head up the Youth Women’s squad at MUBC. In her first season with MUBC Annabelle?s athletes won national titles in the U21 2-, 4- and U23 eight, this was then topped off by coaching the Victorian Women’s Youth VIII that won the Bicenntential Cup for the first time in 8 years. In 2015 Annabelle was named lead coach of the Australian Junior Women?s eight that raced in Rio de Janeiro where it was officially placed 6th. Annabelle was Victorian team manager 2010/11 for the U18 tour of NZ and in 2012 coached the women?s 4- as part of the Australian Junior Development team.

Annabelle is a qualified Physical Education teacher and Performance/Level 3 rowing coach. She is passionate about athlete development in both psychological and physiological realms and aims to train her athletes to be resilient in all aspects of training and life.


I rowed at National Championships but coaching was already on my radar. My coaching career started as a schoolgirl coach and continues to exist in the realm of athlete development.

My current coaching roles are all part time. At MUBC the athletes are at a National level for their age group. At MUBC, with our association with the University, allows the athletes and coaches wonderful opportunities to travel and compete internationally, often in places like Korea and New Zealand.

My role as a Development rowing coach at MGGS involves coaching the? ? coaches, of which we have 20+ who are at the beginning of their coaching career.

Coaching the AUS Junior women’s eight was a campaign for 18 weeks that involved substantial travel and time from my other employment. Coaching for Australia is an honour and a priveledge and this outweighed the fact that there was no wage involved, however, travel costs to Brazil were covered.

Rowing is an incredibly popular sport in Australia, particularly at a schoolgirl level (14-18years old). We hold a Schoolgirl regatta in March each year that has 1800 competitors and runs over 3 days, it is the biggest regatta in the Southern Hemisphere.

Our school rowing programs produce young women of a really high standard and sought after in the American College system.

I can only comment on the number of female coaches in Australia of which there are many, but only at the schoolgirl level. At a high performance level there are a handful. On the 3 National teams (Junior/U23/Senior) that competed at their respective World Championships there were 4 female coaches out of 32 coaching appointments.

There are so many female coaches at a school level and there is a lot of coaching talent at this level. Unfortunately, as the school and national season operate simultaneously and with both demanding a lot of time, many females stay in the school programs where the renumeration is better.

Travelling to Rio with the Australian Junior team is one of the highlights of my coaching career thus far. We had 25 athletes on the team with 10 coaches and support staff. We had been warned about the water quality at the rowing course and we took every precaution to not get sick. Unfortunately a couple of our Australian athletes did fall ill but fully recovered by race day. Our trip to Rio served to give the Rowing Australia medical team precious information about how to manage the Australian Olympic Team for Rio 2016. I believe every country that competed at the World Junior Championships were also using it as a ?test? for their respective Olympic teams in 2016. Rio will be ready and it will be amazing!

I am lucky that MUBC fully support coaches that make National teams and treat it as development. It also helped that the International rowing season operates out of the domestic season so it was quiet on the river whilst we managed our International campaign.

Be bold. I?m still trying to do this better. If I had been bolder I may have been on National teams earlier. Let people recognize you by your positive associations and actions; and those of your athletes. Teach your athletes to be better people and they will be better athletes; and lead by example.