The Ottawa Rowing Club is home to so many amazing, motivated, selfless volunteers! We feel really lucky to know and have them in our community – we want you to know them too.

Here’s another edition of Project #ORCvolunteerlove, where we ask volunteers a series of questions. We’ll post new volunteer Q&As each week. Their answers may surprise you, make you giggle, or motivate you to live the best day ever, or to pay forward what you’ve received too.

Meet Kate Gorsline, one of our many volunteers who make the ORC go and go fast and furiously each year.

Coach Kate has been volunteer coaching since 2006.  In that time, she has coached with the Ottawa Rowing Club in the Jr. Mens, Jr. Womens, U23/Sr Women’s, and Para rowing program, and is currently coaching the U23/Sr. Men’s competitive club program.  In addition, she has been the Varsity Men’s Coach for the University of Ottawa’s team since 2013. Kate has been recipient of the ORC’s Coach of the Year award at least twice in the past and has also coached teams at Canada Games, CanAmEx and FISU.  ​Kate is a Coach Developer for RowOntario in the Learn-to-Row Instructor and RCA Coach programs and is NCCP Certified as an RCA Performance Coach.

THANK YOU, KATE.  Sending you so much #ORCvolunteerlove!

Q: What is your education in and what’s your day job?

A: I have a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Physiology from McGill, and Bachelor of Education from University of Toronto;  My day job is a Math, Science, Phys Ed and Special Education teacher for an Alternate High School program serving youth at risk.

Q: How long have you been a member and volunteering at the ORC?

A: I have been involved with the ORC as a volunteer since 2006, when I got a phone call with a strong Bulgarian accent letting me know that I was coaching. It was Lubo, who was my coach in Montreal years before.

Q: How did you first discover rowing?

A: My frosh leader at McGill was the Heavyweight women’s coxswain – she recruited me to try it, and it was an easy sell; I had been an early riser as a lifeguard before school during high school. I had spent the previous summers canoe tripping in Nunavut, NWT and Northern Quebec, so the idea of being on the water even in the city was the best.

Q: What do you wish other people knew about rowing and the ORC?

A: Rowing is a beautiful way to connect with the natural world even when right in the middle of an urban area. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind and check out, but being present and noticing the sunrise, the trees, the wildlife, and the quiet is just amazing.

Q: What might someone be surprised to know about you?

A: I’m scared of flying – I still do it, but in a white-knuckled, panic-stricken way.  Oh and I played rugby and went for drinks with Russell Crowe (and his film crew) once.

Q: You have been a coach for many years and have worked with many athletes. What is the biggest challenge you encounter when coaching?  What do you most love about coaching rowing and that keeps you engaged?

A: The biggest challenge is finding balance between work, coaching, self-care, and time for friends and family. What keeps me coming back are the athletes; their dedication to their goals and getting to help them along the way is great. I love learning new things – and there is always something new to learn, even if its not always what I seek to learn.

Q: What is a piece of advice or final few words that you’d share with an athlete/crew as they launch for a race?

A: It totally depends on the person, and what fits with their race plan and personality and our rapport.  For some, its a joke, for some, a key word or phrase that they set as a goal, or a reminder about the work they’ve done to get there. Demonstrating my confidence in their ability to reach a goal is the key.   I am a really scientific/logical person, but I have a strict superstition when I launch crew: once I turn around from launching a crew or athlete off a dock, I will not look back down the dock!

Q: What characteristic or mindset do you think is most important for a person to excel in rowing and to be their best? 

A: Growth mindset- its a huge buzz phrase, but the idea that failure or perceived failure is an opportunity to learn and grow is so important in a sport where the standards can be so high, and the demands so large.   Developing resilience is another key piece that can come from this, and this is something that serves us in so many facets of our lives.  Being able to normalize and/or compartmentalize discomfort in order to push further is key – you have to be willing to do the work.

Q: Name someone who has had a significant influence on your coaching and/or volunteer mindset and how?

A: There are a lot.  A couple key folks come to mind though.  Siobhan McLaughlin is an amazing mentor and friend. As well, Brett Miller’s kindness, generosity, and ability to live his values through his coaching was something that I admire, and hope I can also do. There are many, many more.

Q: What would your perfect day look like?  How would you spend it?

A: My perfect day would be an amazing brunch with friends, followed by a lovely morning on a beach or a spa day with massage, followed by an evening hanging out with my amazing dog Maisie. Or just hanging out in a room full of puppies all day. That would be awesome too.

Q: What is a favourite quote that guides you day to day?

A: Right now: “You can’t make everyone happy – you’re not an avocado.”

Q: If you could hop on a plane to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

A: French Polynesia – I lived in New Zealand for a year, but didn’t get to travel to Polynesia, so I MUST go back!

Q: List 3 things on your bucket list

A: Help win the OUA title for uOttawa Rowing

Travel to the Antarctic

Learn to fly a plane