GVSU rowing coach John Bancheri honored

GVSU rowing coach John Bancheri honored

Brady McAtamney

On Saturday, Grand Valley State head rowing coach John Bancheri earned what may be the highest honor he has received yet, as he was presented with the 2015 Men’s Collegiate Coach of the Year Award at the 23rd annual Joy of Sculling coaches’ conference.

The award is colleague-driven, meaning a winner is chosen by coaches throughout the sport instead of a board of members or officials. This, according to Bancheri, brings a great sense of accomplishment and pride to the award itself.

Bancheri, who is in his 30th year of coaching (11th at GVSU), is widely known and respected within the collegiate rowing community. The Bancheri-led GVSU rowing team came in second place at the American Collegiate Rowing Association nationals, just behind the University of Michigan. The Lakers also achieved the fastest boat speed in school history.

“(Coach Bancheri) a very hard worker. He’s one of the most passionate people I’ve ever met. He’s very knowledgeable about everything within the sport. He can explain how it feels in your fingertips while you’re holding the oar. It’s unique. Because of his deep knowledge, he’s able to get his point across to a lot of people and that’s really an indication to his success.” said senior Austin Gentry. “I’m really proud of him. I wish I could be there to applaud him for his hard work. He personally told me that it’s an award that he’s been waiting for a long time.”

According to GVSU’s rowers, Bancheri has a knack for putting together competitive units. Even without the biggest and strongest rowers, the Laker coach is able to get his crew to consistently finish among the top times at meets.

“He loves what he does. Out of all the coaches I’ve had he’s definitely the most into the sport. He cares about every individual as a person and not just as a rower. If you’re having a bad day he wants to know what’s going on and how he can help,” said junior Rob Hiner. “Congratulations are definitely in order. He deserves this award. I’m proud to have him as my coach.”

While Bancheri’s award would be impossible without the effort and dedication of his GVSU crews, he pointed to a different Laker member of the community for helping him reach this point.

“I’ve had a lot of good bosses and some challenging bosses, and (Associate Dean for Student Life Bob Stoll) is by far the best boss I’ve had in my life. He’s challenged me, he’s taught me, he’s kicked me in the butt and he’s cheered me on,” Bancheri said. “I’ll never forget that when he first took the job at GV, he just kept saying ‘keep dreaming.’ I was dreaming to get to this level, and I dreamed about how far we could take GVSU.”

Bancheri wants his rowers to know that the award belongs to them as much as it does to him.

“I love Grand Valley State. I’ve had opportunities to move on. I can’t think of a better place to work, a better working environment, a better institution or better people,” he said. “I came here thinking I was sent into exile and I was ready to get out onto greater things but to have the boss and leadership I’ve had… It’s the reason why people stay around here.

“I pinch myself and think of how lucky I am to work here. Let’s keep it going.”