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Princeton Rowing Coach Greg Hughes Offers Advice

Coach Hughes, the head Men’s Heavyweight Rowing coach at Princeton University has many successful layers to his coaching background. Hughes, a former national champion rower himself, has led teams to championships at Eastern Sprints, the IRA nationals, EARC, and the Henley Royal Regatta while at Princeton. Hughes also has notable success coaching at the national level where he coached the U.S. Lightweight Men’s 2- and the Heavyweight 2+ teams at the World Championships where he won both bronze and gold medals.

LRT Sports: What is the most important quality you look for in a recruit?

Coach Hughes: Strong work ethic.

LRT Sports: When should an athlete contact you? (age, grade, time of year)

Coach Hughes: The best time to contact us is at the beginning of the athlete’s junior year in high school. Earlier is OK, but we are very limited in the amount of contact that can be made.

LRT Sports: How should an athlete contact you? (phone, email, social media)

Coach Hughes: Email is a great way to make initial contact. This allows us to respond with important and useful information on Princeton, our rowing program, and on the process ahead.

LRT Sports: What type of events do you recruit at?

Coach Hughes: We attend many of the major junior events in the US and internationally. We also track the results from those events we cannot attend.

LRT Sports: What advice can you offer a recruit?

Coach Hughes: Communicate! There are lots of talented prospects out there. Our goal is to get to know our recruits. We want prospects that are ready and willing to develop a relationship with our staff both in the recruiting process and as a member of the team should they earn a spot at Princeton.

LRT Sports: What really jumps out at you when reviewing a recruits highlight tape? What are the main do’s and don’ts for a recruits highlight tape?

Coach Hughes: I do not require highlight tapes of my recruits. They can be useful, but often there are other, better ways for the athletes to share their ability in our sport.  We like to see erg performance and a history of results from racing.  If a recruit does put together a tape, I would encourage them not to make it too long.  Include a few clips of 30″ or so, some SS rowing and some rowing at pace.

LRT Sports: When do you recommend recruits put together and share their highlight reels? Is it best to make their highlight reel during offseason, in the middle of season, or after each game?

Coach Hughes: I do not have a preference. My priority is their continued performance, and not the tape they prepare or when it is prepared.

LRT Sports: What advice do you have for recruits that get turned down by their dream schools? What are their options if they don’t gain the recruiting attention they desire? 

Coach Hughes: I always encourage recruits to have a smart plan during the recruiting process. This includes a realistic approach towards potential outcomes and good, well-rounded options. Communication is key. I strongly encourage every recruit to ask specific questions of each coach they’re working with to make sure that they have an accurate sense for where they stand. If a particular school doesn’t look promising, make sure that you have sound options that you know you like and you know like you.

LRT Sports: What camps, leagues, showcases and teams would you recommend a recruit to attend to gain exposure to college rowing coaches?

Coach Hughes: I always encourage our prospects to take advantage of summer programs near them that include the opportunity to race. We track all of these summer programs and their results at summer events. Some athletes earn invitations to ID, Development and Junior Team camps. These are also great. They expose the athlete to a high level of coaching, training and racing.  

LRT Sports: How big a factor is social media when recruiting players? What advice do you have for athletes regarding social media?

Coach Hughes: Be smart!!! Too often these days, younger athletes and recruits do not understand that social media is not “private.” Never write anything online or in email that you wouldn’t share directly with someone in a conversation. Whatever’s written, imagine that coaches and parents might read it and if it doesn’t feel right, DON’T WRITE IT!!! Overall, I would encourage athletes to limit their time with social media. There are so many better things to do in life! Make better use of your time and engage with your surroundings and with those around you.

LRT Sports: What is the minimum SAT/ACT score a high school athlete needs to have when applying to Princeton University?

Coach Hughes: There is not a defined minimum SAT/ACT for Princeton. General standards are posted and they are available on the Princeton Admissions website here.

LRT Sports: What advice do you have for high school or club coaches that are working with recruitable players? How can they make sure their athlete’s get in front of the right people?

Coach Hughes: A message from a coach about their athletes is great, and always appreciated, but if an athlete is serious about Princeton, we encourage them to engage in the process and develop a relationship with our staff. We love learning about prospects from coaches, but it is very important that an athlete doesn’t expect their coach to handle their recruiting communication moving forward.


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