Our very own Kenny Coplan exudes pride for his hometown of Montclair!
Kenny Coplan has had a strange year. The Montclair High School rower has had many ups and downs this year in the sport that has defined him as one of the best young prospects in the country. While the downs have challenged him, Coplan’s ups have resulted in him winning a bronze medal at the junior rowing World Championships this August in Rotterdam, Netherlands. While three other rowers from Montclair also represented the USA at world championships, he is the only one that is still attempting a gargantuan balancing act that includes him navigating the social and academic complexities of high school while also competing as a national team caliber athlete.
Coplan started his rowing journey as a 14 year old incoming freshman. At the sports orientation, he was quickly scouted by Montclair High School rowing coaches Lorna Rundle and Ruben Man. After he informed them he planned to do basketball, the coaches quickly convinced him to try rowing. Coplan soon realized much of his potential and earned a place in a boat that would not normally contain freshmen.
Since then, Coplan has honed himself into a force to be reckoned with in the rowing world. With the help of head coach Jeremy Michalitsianos, who has produced some of the finest college oarsmen in the country, Kenny has blossomed. “While Kenny is naturally a supreme athlete, his work ethic is what sets him apart. I have never had a rower so committed to doing whatever it takes to better himself and his boat,” said Michalitsianos.
While he hasn’t found the same success in high school races as some previous oarsmen for the school, Coplan’s potential overshadows that. For two years in a row he has been the powerhouse of two talented Montclair boats. While these boats didn’t perform in end of the season races, Coplan has stood out amongst a pool of consistently talented Montclair rowers. He hasn’t just stood out to Montclair rowers and coaches. Michalitsianos has coached on the national team multiple times, and keeps close connections and friendships within the team for the benefit of his rowers. He was given the chance to prove himself as a national team rower, and did so every time. In August, after weeks of grueling training camp in Oregon, Kenny Coplan was selected as part of the USA coxed four. This is a four man boat with a coxswain, who steers the boat and commands it.
Even then, the task ahead of the four was sizable. They were racing experienced international crews at the top level of rowing for their age. “I would say as a boat we were very confident in the training we’d done going into the competition,” said Coplan. “The middle 1000 meters of our race was strong, and that’s where many crews struggle.”
Through a spirited effort and an exhibition of power, the boat muscled their way to a bronze medal in a tough event. This achievement helped the USA to a record year at the junior world championships. Coplan also has one more year to compete at the junior level, meaning he will have another year to train and improve as a junior rower.
Coplan has ambition for the future, something he has learned is critical to achieving goal. “I want to make this team again,” said Coplan. “On top of that, I want to be recruited to a Division I rowing school, break the Montclair erg record and win states, Stotesbury and nationals for Montclair.”
He has done Montclair a service through his hard work, commitment and determination. As a Montclair rower, Coplan was the only member of the men’s junior national team from a public school.