Coach Taylor Washburn ’03 spent his afternoons as a kid riding the launch boat with his father, who was a former coach for Andover Crew. In a family of rowers, Washburn expected he would eventually find himself doing crew, but it wasn’t until his Junior spring at Andover that he discovered his passion for rowing.
After Andover, Washburn went on to have a very successful collegiate career, rowing in the first boat for the Lightweight Crew at Princeton University. He became captain his Senior Year and later spent time on the National Team, later going on to race in the World Championship. He shared that, after his time on the National Team, his plans changed when he realized how much he missed having an impact on kids.
“I planned on taking the next year just to row full-time, and see what I could do in the sport. In doing that, transitioning to just being a full time rower and that being my full focus, I realized how much I missed teaching and coaching and [that] multidimension… I really realized that I missed working with kids, missed coaching, and being in the classroom. So at that point, I was faced with a decision: If I [was] really going to pursue this, I [was] going to pursue the Olympic cycle, or I’m going to say, ‘You know what, I did it and I’m pretty happy and content with that.’ So at that point, I decided to walk away and come back to teaching, and that was really the beginning of my teaching coaching career,” said Washburn.
Because Andover Crew is such a large team, Washburn has the task of connecting a wide group of athletes. Dean Burton ’26 described how Washburn sets up platforms where the team can record its progress as a way to get the team familiar with each other with a little friendly competition.
“Something he’s done is he’s connected us over the breaks. So [during] Winter Break and Spring Break he’s emailed the team, he’s made little competitions, or little Google Sheets, where everyone records what they do to encourage everyone to get back into the season of rowing. He’s really good at connecting the team, so by the time we all got back on the water for the regular season, we all knew each other and what each other could do,” said Burton.
According to Leverett Wilson ’23, Washburn’s passion shines through, especially in the frequent emails he sends out filled with important updates and motivation.
“I think Coach Washburn has been a really helpful resource to the whole team and a very motivational and thorough, passionate leader for all of the students. He really cares, whether he’s always sending out detailed emails and really cares a lot about making sure that all the rowers and Andover students understand the sport and are just having fun. I think at the core, rowing can definitely be really serious, and crew definitely has a reputation for that, but he’s really committed to the sport and he really loves it, and that love comes through and helps to motivate all the students and build a really meaningful community. I think he’s just being really passionate and really supportive. He really cares that everyone is getting better every single day and rowing faster,” said Wilson.
Washburn shared that as he’s evolved from an athlete to a young coach to a more experienced coach, his leadership style has evolved as well.
“I think I’ve started to find my voice as a coach… It’s just trying to be authentic and be genuine, and that looks and sounds different at different times. But I try to be really real and honest… I think I just speak from the heart. Whatever, I’m seeing, what I’m feeling at that moment, I share.”
Washburn continued, sharing how this realization has been an important part of his development as a leader.
“[It’s] something that’s taken me a while to come to, like I wasn’t as good at doing that as an athlete, and even as a young coach that didn’t come naturally. But over time, I’ve allowed myself to be a little more vulnerable with my athletes and share a little bit more with them,” said Washburn.
Boys Co-Captain Trevor Moss ’23 emphasized Washburn’s dedication to the sport.
“[He has] that passion that he brings, that energy, but also that intense focus… He’s very analytical about where he wants people to be. Of course, early in the season, he’s making a lot with the boats and trying to see who rows well with who. To kind of summarize this, it’s his energy and passion.”
While making boats as fast as possible is important to Washburn, he mentioned that it’s just as important that the sense of community on the team leads to improvement from all rowers.
“At the end of the season, I [want to] look back on the season seeing real, tangible progress from every single one of our rowers top to bottom. I want to look back and feel like we did things the right way, that we were finding ways to get faster every day, that we were committed to each other, and that we look back at the season going, ‘We did the best we could do this year’… Beyond that, I think it’s making sure that every athlete on the team has a good year, and they can reflect back in the spring and go, ‘This is a team I want to be part of. This is a place where I felt like I contributed real value.’ And that value is identified by the coaches, by my teammates, and leaves them excited to come back the next year,” said Washburn.