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 of two great kids. 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 hiow two sons. Rob is a graduate of the University of Iowa.

wilson-2Wilson DeSousa ’96
Head 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, Bethesda Chevy-Chase 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 medical information field, as well as 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.

Bob Sheppard ’73
Asst. Coach

Bob graduated from W-L in 1973 where he lettered in wrestling and rowing for Charlie Butt as a member of the heavyweight crew.   He is a Naval Academy grad and was a member of the Naval Academy crew for four years where he competed as both a heavyweight and lightweight oarsman capable of rowing both sides with equal skill.  Bob retired as a Captain in the Navy (6 years active, 20 years reserves) in 2003 and from his civilian IT career in 2016.  Today, when he’s not doing whatever is needed for W-L Crew, you’ll find him performing (guitar and vocals) at local venues.

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

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 among many others. 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, before switching over as the women’s head coach and now the varsity assistant, having spent over 30 years coaching throughout the Washington, D.C. area. After graduation from Washington-Lee in 1987 as a National Champion coxswain for team founder and 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 as a head coach at Washington-Lee, Wakefield H.S., Holton Arms School, Gonzaga College H.S. (founder), 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 or accolades.

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 (where he is a member and chairperson of the security committee), now as a 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

Kayla Schoomkaer ’12

Freshman/Novice Coach

A 2012 W-L alum, Kayla was captain of the women’s team both her junior and senior years. She held the distinction of having the fastest W-L women’s 2k on record, which stood for five years. A 2016 graduate of William & Mary Kayla is pursuing teaching as a career and hopes to find her place in APS. When she isn’t working as a substitute teacher, she spends time with her dog and her fiance, 2012 alum Teddy Powell.

Breana K Downey
Freshman/Novice Coach

Breana was a coxswain at the University of Pittsburgh for four years before moving to DC, where she continues to cox at the masters level and recently took home a gold at the Head of the Charles in the Women’s Veteran 4+. She looks forward to helping new rowers and coxswains make athletic and personal gains and discover a passion for the sport.
Breana is a Ph.D. student in the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience at Georgetown University, where she researches bilingualism’s effects on the brains of children and adults.

Taylor Leondard ’13
Freshman/Novice Coach

A former competitive softball player, Taylor joined the crew at W-L as a sophomore seeking new challenges. Her athleticism and drive quickly showed through in her new sport where she went on to become a team captain, Washington Post All-Met athlete, and Arlington Better Sportsclub Female Athlete of the Year her senior year.  She continued her rowing career as a recruited D1 athlete with the University of Virginia’s Women’s Rowing program where she helped the team earn four ACC championships and three top-five NCAA finishes, including a third-place boat finish in the 1V 4+ and third place team finish in 2016.  Outside of rowing, Taylor enjoys staying fit, being out in nature, and works for the US Forest Service as a Biological Science Technician and a Wildland Firefighter.

Associate Coaches

Suzanne Elliott
Associate 3v/Novice Coach

Suzanne is a Yorktown alumnus ’05, and the 2016 and 2017 W-L women’s 3v/novice coach assists the team as time permits. She also helps coach the PBC master’s scullers. A collegiate lightweight rower, Suzanne graduated from Georgetown University (2010) with a BA in Arabic Studies and Psychology. In high school, she was a team captain, 1st Team All-Metropolitan for rowing by The Washington Post (2005), women’s rowing athlete of the year from Arlington Better Sports Club (2005).

Jess Ward ’05
Associate Frosh/Novice Coach

Jess a past women’s team frosh coach is finishing her master’s degree in psychology, but helps whenever time allows.

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.