Nine years ago, Vita Scaglione was a walk-on member of the
Michigan woman’s rowing team. With hard work and dedication
to her sport, she is now back coaching at her alma mater.
“I love it,” Scaglione said. “I’m
coaching at one of the top universities and top programs in the
country. And I get to coach with my own former coaches.”
She is back at Michigan as coach of the novice rowing team after
four years away from the school. Following graduation from the
school, Scaglione volunteered for one year at Michigan as a coach
for the Wolverines.
She then took a year off before coaching three years at
Washington State University. This year, she rejoined the coaching
staff at Michigan and says she is delighted to be back.
Scaglione relates well to members of her novice team, many of
whom are in the same position she was in when she first came to
Rowing is different then most other sports because the program
has a novice team that competes in a non-scoring capacity.
Although there were no official results from Saturday’s
novice rowing meet between Michigan and Eastern Michigan, it is
clear that with the extra experience the teams gained, Scaglione
was happy to be back.
“Any opportunity we have to (race against a team with)
different color jerseys is fantastic,” Scaglione said.
The two teams competed in five races, each consisting of five
minutes of rowing. The race between Michigan and Eastern Michigan
has been held the past few years as a way of giving novice racers a
taste of competition before the team starts training indoors.
“It keeps the team happy going into the winter
months,” Scaglione said. “It gets hard because
we’re not racing.”
The team was pleased with its performance, which it feels was an
improvement. For the rowers, it was the first time they were able
to compete at Belleville Lake — Michigan’s home course
— and the last time anyone will race there until March.
“Everyone did very well,” freshman coxswain Kim
Garieski said. “It’s a great way to end water
One reason the team feels it has performed well early in the
season is coaching. The team members said they feel fortunate to be
coached by Scaglione.
“I think she makes all the difference,” freshman
Marin McCabe said.
“I can’t imagine someone else as coach.
There’s such a big learning curve. It’s nice to have
someone who is understanding and patient.”
The respect is mutual, as Scaglione is impressed with the way
many of the younger rowers — especially those new to the
sport — are handling the work that comes with rowing.
She lists “discipline, organization and commitment”
as the three keys to success.
Scaglione said rowing is a difficult sport to train for, as it
involves not only a technical ability but a level of fitness
comparable to that of a runner or swimmer.
She knows her team is more than willing to do what it takes to
“This is an excellent group of young women who are all
committed to the sport,” Scaglione said. “There’s
a lot of young talent.”
Senior Chelsea MacMullen also understands what many novice
racers are going through. After sitting out her freshman year,
MacMullen joined the rowing team her sophomore year and competed as
a novice until moving up to varsity her junior year.
MacMullen felt her year spent rowing on the novice squad was
very beneficial for her, even though she had previous rowing
“It kind of eases you in to it,” MacMullen said.
“Especially since there are no morning practices.”
Varsity coach Mark Rothstein is happy to see the progress the
young Wolverines are making.
“It was a very auspicious fall,” Rothstein said.
“They’re in a good position, but there’s still a
lot of work to do.”
With the leadership of Scaglione, the women do not feel the work
should be a problem.
“(Scaglione) is preparing us very well,” Gasieski
said. “She is a wonderful coach.”