Bainbridge rowing coach wins national award

Bainbridge Island Rowing director and boys varsity coach Bruce Beall was selected for the 2022 Jack Kelly award by the USRowing board of directors.

The award is given to an individual who has superior achievements in rowing, service to amateur athletics and success in their chosen profession.

“I’m 71 so the horizon is over the hill,” Beall said. “I’m flattered but surprised.”

Jack Kelly was the first American rower to win three Olympic gold medals, single scull in 1920 and double scull event in 1920 and 1924. Kelly had 126 consecutive victories in single scull, is a member of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, was a lieutenant in World War I and got involved in politics in Philadelphia.

Beall said he met Kelly in 1974 while rowing for a club in Philadelphia. “His family had supported the club for many years. He is an interesting guy. It is a small world.”

Beall said he has a broad resume, and that’s what they are honoring.

“I have been involved in all facets,” Beall said. “I’ve been on the board of directors for USRowing, I’ve worked with nonprofits, coached in college, and in high schools…”

Beall traveled across the country to compete at the University of Washington from 1970-73. He won a silver medal in the Pan American Games, raced in the 1973 European Championships and multiple world championships, and was a member of the quadruple sculls at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

“I have been involved with rowing nationally for quite some time,” he said.

Beall coached at the University of California from 1988-92 before becoming executive director and director of rowing at the Pocock Foundation for its first 12 years.

He decided to settle down and take the role at Bainbridge when his children were interested in following in his footsteps. Since taking over here, the squad has competed at the USRowing Youth National championships almost every year.

When it comes to the Jack Kelly award, “It brings some notoriety to the program which is great. We do everything right and can be a model for anyone trying to build a program.” Beall will receive his award next month at the RowCon 2023 convention in Atlantic City, NJ.

Beall said rowing benefits all of BI. “The real reward is making a difference in people’s lives,” he said. “Rowing has a big impact on the whole community, not just kids or adults.”

About 10 percent of Beall’s team members have earned college rowing scholarships. He likes that he helps kids get off their phones and pressures of the world and just enjoy being on the water.

“I hope I am an inspiration,” Beall said. “It’s really the sport, not me. I create the environment so they can learn from the sport.”