Safety & Conduct


The safety of team members is of primary importance to all who are associated with the W-L Crew Program. It is important that all crew parents, team members, and the school administration understand the decision-making process involved in helping assure the safety of our team members.

Many factors are taken into consideration before making the decision to launch shells. These factors include the experience of the coaches and crew members, the height and speed of the river, wind speed and direction, amount of debris in the river, direction of tidal flow, the temperature of both air and water, and forecasted weather.

When small craft warnings (15-34 MPH winds) are posted for our area or river levels rise above normal stages, our coaches weigh carefully all the conditions listed above prior to deciding which shells to launch, if any.

A W-L Crew coach normally arrives at the boathouse prior to launch time to check weather and water conditions and decides which shells will be launched. The coach listens to weather forecasts and talks with the other coaches.

Based upon all of the information available, the W-L Crew coaches make their decision concerning practice that day based on their assessment of the above conditions. All of our coaches are aware of the unpredictability of the weather and realize that weather conditions and the river must be respected.

In addition to the decision-making process described, other precautions exist in the area of safety. All shells have positive buoyancy (watertight compartments at the bow and stern) and the oars can be used as flotation devices. All launches (motor boats) are equipped with life preservers for all rowers and a megaphone for use by the coach, “space blankets” to protect rowers from the cold should they get wet, and radios or cellular telephones to contact other coaches, the boathouse and the Harbor Police.

A parent volunteer Dock Monitor is available at practices to help if an emergency arises. Finally, all students who row crew must pass a swimming test. Additional water safety training is offered at the beginning of each season. Each crew member is expected to comply with team rules and Potomac Boat Club rules to maintain safe and proper behavior at all times.

Should on-water assistance be required, the D.C. Marine Police have jurisdiction. Once they arrive, they have authority over coaches and rowers. If the Police deem it necessary, some, or all, of the rowers involved in an emergency situation could be sent to a hospital for a check-up. At this point, our coaches have no say in the police decision process.

The W-L Crew Boosters and school administration have confidence in the abilities of our coaches to operate safely on and about the water.


W-L High School Crew is fully committed to the safety of all athletes, and participants, by complying with the USRowing SafeSport policies below. Specifically, the following misconduct will not be tolerated:

  • Bullying
  • Hazing
  • Harassment (including sexual harassment)
  • Emotional misconduct
  • Physical misconduct
  • Sexual misconduct (including child sexual abuse)

On these six points, we have a zero tolerance policy for the coaches, athletes, crew booster officers, parent boosters, and alumni of our team. We expect everyone to conduct themselves in the highest of standards, being supportive, positive, and inclusive towards all those involved within, and outside of W-L High School Crew.

We promote this supportive and positive environment through example and education as appropriate. Discrimination based on race, sex, religious affiliation, sexual preference, federally protected class, or disability is not tolerated. All members of our program will be treated with equal respect, free from harassment or pressure, either intended or implied. W-L High School Crew offers a safe environment for all.

Rowers are expected to conduct themselves maturely and demonstrate good behavior and good sportsmanship while participating in the W-L Crew program. The W-L Crew Boosters recognize that the crew team may engage in various activities “off the water” to boost team spirit. These activities, while not intended to be harmful to rowers, may have an adverse effect on the students involved, if as a result of peer pressure, the rowers do things that they would not otherwise do. Of particular concern is the potential for misuse of power or influence by upperclassmen over lower classmen, however subtle the influence. Such a dynamic can be considered hazing.

Hazing is defined as any action or situation which recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student or which willfully destroys or removes public or private property for the purpose of initiation or admission into or affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in W-L Crew. Virginia State law states that any student found guilty of hazing will be charged with a Class 1 felony. The Boosters understand the importance of building team spirit but do not endorse any activity that could be deemed hazing. Outside of coach-supervised practices and regattas, rowers are encouraged to participate in team-related activities but are not required to do so. Coaches, team captains, and parents will work together to inform rowers about appropriate activities, to help monitor these activities and to prevent any activity that might be considered hazing.

Handling Complaints

If a rower and/or his parent have a concern or complaint with any of the coaching staff, he or she is encouraged to discuss the concern directly with the coach.

If the concern is not resolved with the coach, the parent is advised to take the issue to the next higher level of authority until the issue is satisfactorily resolved by all involved.

The order of authority for the W-L crew program is as follows: Head Coach, Activities Director, School Principal, the County Education Department and then, the School Board.

Any member of the coaching staff with a concern should follow the same procedure.

On occasion the Crew Boosters, through their President or other Board members, may be able to help resolve issues that arise among the team, coaches, and parents; however, the Crew Boosters have no formal role in personnel matters involving coaches.