Meet the Coaches

Tom Rooks

Head Coach

Tom Rooks (Certified Level 2 Coach) is the Director of Rowing Operations and Head Coach for WBC.  He is from Orlando, Florida but has lived in several states and on both coasts during his 22 years of service in the US Coast Guard.  He began rowing in high school where he competed at the Scholastic Rowing National Championships. He met his wife, Michelle, rowing for the University of Central Florida. He has coached at Boone High School, Garfield High School, Sturgis Charter School, Prince William Crew, and Barnstable Rowing Club. He has coached winning crews at the New England Rowing Championships, the Head of the Occoquan, and various state and local regattas.  


Coach Tom is driven to help every WBC rower find their own path to success inside and outside of a rowing shell.

Howard (Howie) Hagan

High School Boys Coach

Howie (Certified Level 2 Coach) was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY where rowing is anunknown.  Arriving in college he discovered lightweight rowing and rowed competitively for four years.  Stepping out of a racing shell his senior year, at the May, 1972 Dad Vail regatta, he soon entered the 'real world' consisting of a career as a US Army officer, a wife, two children, a few war zones, over twenty years overseas and no time for rowing.  Retiring in 2016 he and his wife settled in Williamsburg.  Noticing an article in a local magazine regarding the WBC, he contacted the club president and immediately found himself rowing again.  His first Masters sprint race was in May 2016, after a short interlude of 44 years.  He continues to row with WBC Masters Program, serves as the current club VP, and is the coach for the U19 Boys.  He attended the US Rowing Coach's certification training in 2017 and is certified as a Level (College/HS) Coach.

Mike Cowden

High School Boys Coach

Mike Cowden (Certified Level 2 Coach) has been a competitive athlete from an early age and participated in about every sport possible.  From anything involving some type of ball, to later in life, swimming, cycling and running (triathlon).  However, rowing was never on the radar until he moved to Williamsburg in 2014.  After completing a Learn to Row class, his competitive juices kicked in, and he quickly became addicted.  Since then, he has spent countless hours on the water and attended a few rowing camps to hone his skills. He feels the opportunity to coach is a real honor because he loves helping others to achieve what they desire from the sport, whether it is recreational or performance driven. He is excited about the future of WBC and the direction the club is heading. He looks forward to helping advance the WBC goals and objectives.  Mike will be coaching the Novice Boys.

Sidney Cross

High School Girls Coach

Sidney became involved with rowing at Washington State University coxing for Cougar Crew’s lightweight women. She went on to row for them and to also cox the Cougar Crew men. After participating in rowing she took up coaching and was the volunteer assistant to the Cougar Crew women’s team for the past 2.5 years. She will be coaching the U19 women this fall and will also be the varsity women’s rowing coach for the College of William and Mary.

Ashley Saba

High School Girls Coach

Ashley Saba recently moved to Newport News after graduating from The Ohio State University where she rowed for 4 years. She is originally from Pittsburgh, PA and began her rowing career in 2010 with the Three Rivers Junior Rowing team. While she spent most of that time rowing in Columbus, she returned to Pittsburgh every summer to coach a variety of masters, juniors, and adaptive rowing. Ashley spent the past year as a volunteer coach at Old Dominion University. While she learned a lot and had an amazing experience with ODU, she is excited to work with the junior level again as the women’s U17 coach! 

Mary Lou O'Halloran

High School Girls Coach

Mary Lou O’Halloran (Certified Level 2 Coach) grew up in Boston, but did not start rowing until she was an adult in Portland, Oregon. She joined WBC after moving to Williamsburg in 2014 to take a job as the school nurse at Lafayette High School. She is a passionate sculler and finds coaching to be rewarding, as junior rowers can improve so rapidly. She started coaching WBC Juniors in the spring of 2017. When she is not coaching, Mary Lou can be found rowing for WBC Masters, biking, or completing in a local triathlon.  Mary Lou will be coaching the Novice Girls program.

Sarah Stafford

High School Girls Coach

Sarah Stafford (Certified Level 2 Coach) learned to row with the Williamsburg Boat Club in 2004 and has been rowing with the club ever since. She enjoys sweeps, sculls, and coxing. In 2012 Sarah began helping to coach the Master’s Learn to Row program. She completed US Rowing’s Level 2 Coaching Certification Program in 2017 and began coaching with the Middle School program as well as co-coaching the Masters’ Learn to Scull program. In the Fall of 2017, she joined the High School coaching roster, working primarily with the Novice Women. 

Bob Morrison

Masters/Adult Coach

Bob Morrison (Certified Level 2 Coach) learned to row a millenia ago at the USCG Academy.  He rowed and won several collegiate championships, including the Dad Vail Regatta (LTWT V8) and Head of the Charles regatta (LTWT 4+), and was the Captain of the Lightweight crew.  He completed a career with the Coast Guard in 1998 and completed a career with FedEx in 2018.  He joined WBC in 2005 and has held several positions in the club over the years.  He was certified a USRowing Level 2 coach in 2008, and currently assists in instructing the club’s Learn to Row and Learn to Scull classes as well as coaching masters sculling and sweep practices.