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Catalog Number 2013.55.133
Object Name Video
Title Al Morrow
Scope & Content Al Morrow:
1 of 2; 00:04Introduction to Hall
00:26Childhood: grew up with sports facilities nearby, easy to be involved in sport although not part of his family's interests, they were artists and musicians
01:46Idols: when young NHL players, watched the Junior Red Wings, also the Hamilton Tiger Cats; modern day hero is anyone who does something special in sport that takes it way beyond sports anyone who does something special in sport that takes it way beyond sport; they give back to society, they do something unique in sport, are groundbreakers, many of the athletes he has coached have done something in their lives beyond sport
02:54First time in a boat: at age 15, a friend invited him out to the rowing club in Hamilton, they needed an extra guy, on his first day on the water he really like it, liked being on the water, for every action there is a reaction, team oriented, outdoors, a fun thing to do
03:45Did you join a club: the high school had a rowing team, joined a summer club, rowed while attending Western University, relocated to St. Catharines which was then a hotbed of rowing, made a few national teams, a slowly evolving process, having some success and making good friends resulted in his gravitating towards it
04:38At what point did you formulate that love for the sport and develop ambitions: got dragged along, not a driven person, enjoyed it, it was a lifestyle, a way of staying fit, having fun, travelling, a way of pushing yourself, got caught up in it for natural reasons, not a lot of ambition behind it, rowed for 11 years, retired at 26, quite satisfied at that point, been on 5 national teams, not really highly successful internationally
00:57On the national teams: in the early 1970's the rowing system in Canada was not that strong, didn't have funding or coaching expertise or training , Canada had been successful in the 1950's and 1960's, in the 70's were in a down period; he did it for the enjoyment, feels he was not a very gifted athlete, did win a Bronze at the Pan American Games
07:05Transition to coach: a very natural one, was a spare at the Montreal Olympics, became interested in coaching and immersed himself in it, started at UBC then hired by Rowing Canada to be the site coach in Vancouver and work with the national teams
08:09As a coach brining out the competitive spirit: what he really loves about coaching is the process and seeing someone come along who doesn't know as much as him and isn't that good and having them move past him; saw himself as a facilitator in that process, sees his role as a coach to be constantly pushing people past him and making them more ambitious
09:22How do gauge a new rower: in rowing a lot of success is rewarded by hard work, don't really observe a new rower too closely because of their skills, takes them unconditionally, wait and see what happens, give them a chance: do you want to work hard, be part of the group and devote a numbers of years to it; if after a couple of years you want more, work harder, push them, ask more of them; everyone is welcome at first and then we will see what happens
10:18On different coaching positions: spent 2 years at UBC as a volunteer coach, in 1978 hired in full time position, partly funded by Rowing Canada, at U Victoria and there for 10 years, moved to London in 1988 and stayed there
10:53Reason for the move to London: every move he has made has seemed to be intuitively the right one; a good opportunity
11:49On Kathleen Heddle and Marnie McBean: knew of both of them before he met them through other rowing coaches, their reputation preceded them; met them in 1987 when just 2 of many rowers, they were not superstars, after they stated performing at the lower end of competitions it became obvious they had a spark, made sense to put them together, they had the chemistry of total opposites, different personalities, different physical attributes, technically rowed from different schools of thought; that was the exciting point, had 2 strong willed people that both had totally different strengths and melding them together and helping come together was the real challenge
13:34Did you have to re-evaluate them: at no point had any private ambitions for them, they may have had those ambitions themselves; best move he made with them was to periodically keep them apart; they rowed at the 1991 Worlds and then for 8 months after that encouraged them to row apart and through that process they got better; 4 months prior to Barcelona he put them together again and they were really fast, they had improved; after 1992 Kathleen retired and Marnie went on as a single for 2 years, they agreed to come back together for Atlanta and he had no input in that decision, once they were together again he was the logical person to coach them
14:50What made you encourage them to be apart: had a sense that being so different, by being apart they would be better; when working with others you get different ideas, a different perspective and you grow and when you get back together you are a little stronger for it, very accepting of each other, matured, became a tighter team by being apart, something he intuitively sensed, they had say in the process too, he was dealing with mature people who have a right to a say in things
16:15In 1992 what did you expect from them: they felt that would win the Gold more than he, refers to himself as the consummate worrier; they were confident in being close to perfect; his philosophy was "you still can get better"; talks about rowers going out and racing their own race, as a coach you are on the sidelines; they were confident they could win
17:40On the rest of the team: to a fault he feels he was 'nit-picky'; had a 4 that was even more successful, they had won 26 races, had other crews who were in a sense less well-known but even more successful, always coming at them, need to improve, did a lot of confidence building, searching for way to be better
19:19Do you compete against the clock or other countries: bit of both; many factors affect speed on the water so it can be hard to quantify and be totally objective; today can use GPS and prop under the boat to judge speed, can tinker with the boat, the stroke rate to gain speed; they also compete against each other to check their speed to see if they are competitive
20:54Rowing does not use world records but world best times because of the different conditions in a race such as clear water, wind, etc.; records at not that important in rowing
22:00Is training more important than talent: rowers are highly talented athletes, they can be lower on the talent scale but way out in the hard work scale; can take a rower with average gifts and over many years of hard work be successful with them, that is the satisfying part of being a coach in rowing; he tells an athlete 'you can be a better than a person who is more talented than you, be better than you ever dreamed you could be', don't see that in other sports
22:58On blisters: they are a reality of rowing; going to have wear and tear on the hands; also a symptom of over gripping the oar handle which usually comes from bad technique; can't wear gloves because lose feeling you need
24:09There are 2 fine skills in rowing: the entry into the water and the release from the water; they are exacting skills; good to have fine fingertip control
24:52Return of Kathleen and Marnie: they reunited in the later summer of 1994, he did not know what the impact of 2 years off would be on Kathleen, Marnie had stayed in the game and stayed fit, she had won a Silver medal in the Worlds; going from sweep to sculling was doing something most athletes had not been doing too successfully, they were breaking new ground; he discovered with Kathleen was such a talented person that she became very fit very fast, the time off had rested her body and mind and she was excited to be back
26:50On coaching different rowing types: depends on how you want to manage coaching; he calls himself a generalist, doing a whole lot of things fairly well; 6 significant things a coach has to do well: selection, psychological motivation, writing and orchestrating training programmes, handling the equipment, on the water coaching which is technique to bring the crew together and administrative type of skills; he gravitates towards and enjoys the administrative/organizational types of things, enjoys the people/motivational side; in different situations can't be everything to everyone so he has brought in consulting helpers; real success of a team is the infrastructure that supports them, equipment, medical team, etc., a good coach will involve that support team
29:04Are you looking for new rowers: maintains roots of when he started to accept everyone unconditionally, tries to coach the same way as when he started, seldom judgemental, seldom compares new rowers to Heddle & McBean, tries to give everyone a chance, he will use Heddle and McBean as role models but doesn't force his expectations on anyone else, lets them find their own way
30:47Do you still enjoy coaching: really enjoys it, considers himself to be a lucky guy who gets to do his hobby; had opportunities to move up but being a coach on the water every day is his roots
31:40On the next decade: aiming at London 2012; talks about the women's programme; talks about drugs and drug taking; rowing doesn't give rewards such as notoriety, endorsements, etc., the incentives in rowing remain a little more intrinsic , not going to become famous, the intrinsic rewards still what is really exciting and makes coaching more satisfying; he stills has the approach to sport of trying to excel, to be the best you can be; the sport hasn't been affected by commercialism or drugs as other sports
36:53Life lesson: value of hard work and team work, believe that success can change you and you have to be very careful to remember your initial goals, be a normal person having fun; it's all about a good balance in life and some things are more important than success in sport
38:23On winning or losing: learn more from losing because you can become reflective, try to become better; sometimes when you win you start to think things are good and on target; when things are taken away from you, you become a better person
39:30Philosophy of coaching: value fairness, run a fair selection system, value hard work, value team work, have mature communication and let athletes explain themselves so they can get better as a team
2 of 2; 00:01Talking to another person who is off camera, talks about meeting member of 1972 Team who is one of his heroes
02:46Tells story about coaching team to a Bronze in 2000, coming home and being his child's "show and tell" at school; did a lot of speaking in other schools; had not had so much fun connected to the Olympics before
05:15On being inducted to the CSHoF: exciting; thinks of himself as being a normal guy, not a great athlete, a coach who loves coaching, being inducted for doing what is fun, an honour
06:10Talks about his recognition award from the Women's Athletic Alumni Association from Western Ontario for being an advocate for women's sport, he is the only man in their HOF, a unique honour; talks about Rowing Canada Federation medal from 1991

Year Range from 1976
Year Range to 2004
Subjects rowing
1976 Olympic Games Montreal
1992 Olympic Games Barcelona
1996 Olympic Games Atlanta
2000 Olympic Games Sydney
Bronze medal
1975 Pan American Games
Search Terms passion
team work