Men’s Coaches

derek-2Derek Parsons ’87
Head Coach

Derek Parsons took the reigns as head men’s coach of Washington-Lee crew in 1997. As head coach, he has rejuvenated the team both in energy, equipment, financially, all while leading the Washington-Lee boy’s varsity crews to multiple medals at the regional level and the finals of the Stotesbury Cup regatta. From 2004 to 2007, the varsity eight finished in the medals at the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Championships. In addition to his success on the water, he’s mentored elite high school rowers who have gone on win Junior World Championships and to row for schools such as Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Navy, Dartmouth, and Oxford University.

As a rower Derek rowed at Washington-Lee under the great Charlie Butt. After college Derek turned his attention back to the river as the head coach for Wakefield HS in 1994. His accolades include medals from the NOVA/VASRA championship, and Stotesbury Cup Regatta. As a member of Potomac Boat Club, he continues to row on the upper Potomac and has organized a Washington-Lee alumni crew for the annual Head of the Potomac. Formerly a teacher at Edison HS. in Fairfax, Derek now teaches photography, computer graphics, and art at W-L. Derek is the father to two great kids, who are students at West Springfield HS. He is a graduate of Radford College.

rob_thumbRobert Shaw ’01
Varsity Assistant

Robert got his coaching start at Washington-Lee in 2009. A Washington-Lee alum, Robert rowed for the Generals from 1998-2001 under coach Derek Parsons.

After graduating from Washington-Lee, Robert attended the University of Iowa, where he rowed all four years for the Hawkeyes. His previous coaching experience includes two seasons as Head Coach of the Hawkeyes and two seasons at Yorktown High School, where he guided the Boy’s Novice 4 to a gold medal at the 2008 Ted Phoenix Regatta. When not at the river Rob and his wife Sarah chase after son, Ben. Rob is a graduate of the University of Iowa.

wilson-2Wilson DeSousa ’96
Freshman/Novice Coach

Coach Wilson has been coaching at W-L since 1998 on both the men’s and women’s side, including a year as the Women’s Head Coach in 2001. His rowing career began at Washington-Lee where he was a member of the varsity eight under Coaches Tom Chisnell, and Derek Parsons. As a coach, Wilson has led his crews to national success at both the varsity and freshman levels at W-L, BCC HS, and Yorktown HS. In 2007 and 2008, while coaching the freshman women at Yorktown, he led the Patriots to consecutive medals at the Ted Phoenix Regatta. Wilson works in the massage therapy and physical training fields. He’s an avid car buff, especially VW’s, and follows professional soccer with a passion. Wilson is a graduate of Marymount University.

Master Coach, Chief Engineer, Jack-of-All-Trades

jim-2James Owen ’62
Asst. Coach

A Washington-Lee Crew alumni class of 1962, Jim rowed as a lightweight for Charlie during his years on the team. Now retired from his job as a master elevator engineer, Jim starts yet another season as a coach with W-L, generously helping wherever he is needed. Jim has coached both the girls and boys since he started coaching with the team in  2004, as well as acting as the chief repair technician and number one inventor. Jim attended the University of Louisiana in Mechanical Engineering. Powered by Dunkin.

Women’s Coaches

Craig Spraggins

Dane Underwood
Head Coach

Dane Underwood has been rowing and coaching in the northern Virginia area since 1998. He started his coaching career at Oakton High School in 2004, joining in the second year of the program. There, he worked to build the program from a small start up team of just 35 members to a competitive and respected team of 110+ athletes. Serving as the head and varsity women’s coach for the last 8 years, he led the women’s team to great success, including 8 medal finishes at the VA State championships in varsity events. His athletes have also found individual success, with two All-Met awards, and many girls going on to collegiate rowing at Stanford, UVA, Clemson, Princeton and other excellent schools. His top athlete even went on to row for the US Women’s U23 national team, and in the Oxford-Cambridge boat race (go light blues!).

As a rower, Dane first rowed for West Potomac HS, but didn’t really fall in love with the sport until rowing at George Mason University under the tutelage of local rowing legend Bob Spousta. Dane continues to row competitively with friends as GMU Alumni, and for various local programs, including the Occoquan and Potomac boat clubs.

Off the water, Dane is a Systems Engineer for the MITRE Corporation in McLean, and enjoys tinkering with technology, writing code, and cycling.

DSC_1382-web-wl-221x300George Kirschbaum ’87
Varsity Assistant

George returned to Washington-Lee in 2012 on the men’s side having spent over 20 years coaching throughout the Washington, D.C. area. After graduation from Washington-Lee in 1987 as a National Champion coxswain for legendary coach Charlie Butt Jr., George picked up a megaphone for W-L in 1988, under Charlie’s tutelage, and never looked back. Over the years he has helped develop and lead top ranked scholastic teams at Washington-Lee, Wakefield H.S., Holton Arms School, Gonzaga College H.S., West Springfield H.S., and junior programs at Potomac Boat Club. Moments like helping with the selection and training of the Senior U.S. National Team lightweight women’s quad for the World Championships in 2001 (2nd) and 2002 (3rd), stand out as highlights of a long career, but it’s the positive impact he can have on his athletes that he says is more important than the medals.

The author of the Down and Dirty Guide to Coxing, and columnist for Rowing magazine, George can’t resist the pull of the water. Thus he returns to Washington-Lee and Potomac Boat Club, now as the women’s coach, with an eye towards helping develop today’s champion student-athletes.

Outside of W-L George works for the US Patent and Trademark Office while trying to help his wife Jennifer keep up with their son, Gabe. George enjoys running, cycling, and home brewing. George is a graduate of NOVA and George Mason University. George’s Rowing Resume

gwen-headshotGwen Sully

Freshman/Novice Coach

Gwen returns to W-L Crew this year to work with the freshmen and novice women’s program.  She began her coaching career in Northern Virginia and served the rowing community for many years in areas of fundraising, development of rowing programs, as well as regatta organization and support.  As a USRowing Level 3 certified coach and with more than 10 years of coaching and mentoring junior, collegiate and master rowers, her goal is to maintain a challenging and positive atmosphere where rowers can reach and exceed goals, build confidence and be successful in their racing endeavors.

Suzanne Elliot
Freshman/Novice Asst. Coach

Suzanne started her rowing career in 2001 at Yorktown HS, where she rowed for Coach Spraggins. Graduating in 2005, she was a recipient of The Charlie Butt Jr. Memorial Trophy from the Arlington Better Sports Club and was named 1st Team All-Met. Suzanne continued her love of the sport as a member of the Varsity Women’s team at Tufts University, during which time she participated in the Head of the Charles twice and NCAA Championships. Prior to transferring to Georgetown University, Suzanne tried her hand at coaching the Yorktown girls’ freshman/novice team alongside Coaches Wilson and Rob in the spring of 2007. In January 2008, she joined the Georgetown Women’s Lightweight team; she has also spent several summers rowing for TBC. In 2010, she graduated with degrees in Arab Studies and Psychology. Her other interests include health and nutrition, swimming, education, and sustainability.

The Wind Beneath our Wings

adrian-jackson-2Adrian Jackson
Trailer Driver extraordinaire

Adrian, an Arlington County Public Schools employee, expertly pulls our boats from Oakridge to Saratoga, and everywhere in between. Who needs Allstate when you have Adrian behind the wheel?! Adrian is always ready to jump in and help whenever the need arises, and the W-L team and staff could not be more grateful.