Our Coaches


Will Whalen

Program Director, Mens Varsity Head Coach

Will has been involved with rowing for close to 30 years. His career started in the fall of 1986 when he joined the Oakland Strokes, where he became a three-year member of the Varsity 8+ and won the state championship in 1989. As a senior, he was recruited to UC Berkeley, where his freshman 8+ was undefeated until the national championships and finished the season second in the nation. Will went on to earn varsity letters in each of his next three seasons at UC Berkeley and was named first team All Pac-10 in 1995. As a senior, he won both the Jim Lemmon Award (for a collegiate career undefeated on Cal’s home course), and the Dean Witter Award (for loyalty, proficiency and spirit, as voted by his teammates).

After college, Will coached as a graduate assistant at Cal and then as the strength coach and assistant varsity coach at Marin Rowing Association. Since taking the Juniors Head Coach position at NBRC, he has focused on building a strong foundation for a thriving program. Under Will's leadership, the program has multiplied in size and has sent athletes to Stanford, Washington, Boston, and other Division I and II colleges. These successes drive his continued efforts to build a program where athletes realize their full potential in high school and beyond.


Tara Foley

Women's Varsity Head Coach

Tara Foley started her rowing career at Los Gatos Rowing Club, and was recruited to row for the University of Michigan, one of the fastest collegiate programs in the country. In her four years at Michigan, she won two BIG 10 titles and took the varsity 8+ to a 5th place finish at the NCAA grand finals.

After graduating from Michigan, Tara moved back to the San Jose area and coached in the Masters Program for Los Gatos Rowing Club before coming to Petaluma to take over the Varsity Women's team. During her time with the varsity women, she's taken them to several grand final finishes at the Southwest Regional Championships, an 11th place finish at the National Championships, and has had rowers recruited to several DI programs.


Matt Holiday

Junior Mens Novice Coach

Matt started rowing at Marin Rowing Association, and then rowed for Sacramento State, winning a Pacific Coast Championships in the quad his senior year. Since then he has coached and taught PE at a k-12 school in Novato, as well as working as the director of a ranch for troubled youth in Washington. He now works as a pastor in Novato and runs a construction company.

With his novice men he works to instill a sense of leadership, teamwork, and a hard work ethic that will last with them throughout their lifetime.


John Gilbert

Varsity Mens Assistant Coach

John rowed for North Bay in high school and was hired as an assistant coach shortly after graduation. In his tenure as assistant coach he has been instrumental in the growth of the program and helped lead a number of boats to strong finishes at Southwest Regional Championships.


Steven Genise

Junior Women's Novice Coach
Masters Novice Coach
Advanced Masters Men's Coach

Steve began rowing at North Allegheny High School in Pittsburgh, PA, where he focused on sculling and stroked several boats to medals at the Club and Scholastic National Championships, as well as the Stotesbury Cup. After graduating, he rowed as a lightweight for UC Berkeley, where he was stroke of the Varsity 8+ and Varsity 4+ for three years, winning 2 Western Sprints titles in the 4+ and placing 3rd in the 8+, as well as a Grand Final finish at the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia. Before coming to NBRC he coached juniors and masters at Pittsburgh Rowing Club as well as the novice lightweight women at Cal.

At NBRC he coaches the Junior Novice Women, Novice Masters, and Advanced Masters Men, with his masters crews taking two medals at regionals and his junior novices finishing fifth last year. He also provides sculling lessons.


Ned Orrett

Novice Masters and Sculling Coach

Having begun his rowing career as a masters rower, Ned understands the unique challenges and requirements of coaching masters rowing better than anyone. A longtime perfectionist in both his technique and his coaching, he provides expert technical instruction in sweep and sculling for both the coached programs and the normally uncoached independent scullers.

Once a national-class cyclist and ski-mountaineer, Ned understands the dedication and self-education required for a sport as complicated as rowing. He is also NBRC's boat repair expert, allowing the team to continue to thrive on top of the water instead of under it.


Steve Messner

Advanced Masters Women's Coach

Steve came to North Bay in 2010 with a lengthy and accomplished rowing background including four years of crew at Stanford, numerous western regional sculling titles in the 1980’s, and a national sculling championship in the doubles in 1984. He continued with the sport at the Masters levels and won numerous titles in Europe between 1999 and 2005 as a member of the Tideway Scullers School in London.

His coaching background includes one year as the Head Men’s Coach at Cal State Long Beach, where his crew won a Western Sprints title. Through his experience, Steve has learned direct lessons from a number of national and international level coaches and is excited to be able to apply these lessons now at the club level.