The head coach for the Asheville Youth Rowing Association is Jack Gartner. A graduate of the Wharton School of Finance, the University of Pennsylvania, Jack rowed for the legendary Joe Burk at Penn for four years from 1960 through 1964, where he was the captain of the men’s heavyweight crew. Upon graduation, he declined the opportunity to train with the Olympic program and went home to work in the family business. Jack started the rowing program at both Mercyhurst Prep School and Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa. in the early 1970’s. He also began the Mercyhurst Regatta which is now over 30 years old. He went on to coach high school crews at The Baldwin School, Philadephia, Pa.; Upper Marion High School, Philadelphia, Pa.; and Lower Marion High School, Philadelphia, Pa.
Rudy Ryback came on board in September 2013 as an assistant coach. Rudy rowed in high school at St. Louis Rowing and in college at the University of Colorado, Boulder. After graduating with two bachelors degrees in psychology and physiology, Rudy trained with the USRowing High Performance team in the hopes of winning a seat on the US Men’s Lightweight National team. He has coached juniors at Community Rowing in Boston and St. Louis Rowing Club. For seven years he was the head coach at Washington University in St. Louis. Rudy also has a masters degree in sports management.
Erick Thiemke has just joined AYRA. Erick was the head coach at Clark University for 11 years and coached at Amherst College, Assumption College and Community Rowing. He has extensive boatman experience and worked at UNC-Chapel Hill for two years as a novice coach and boatman. He joins us for the spring race season.
Martha Williams is an attorney who retired from 23 years of service to the federal judiciary to become AYRA’s full time program director. She also is an assistant coach two to three days per week. Martha took up the sport of rowing at age 50 and was selected in 2008 by Row as One to compete at the Head of the Charles.
Dr. Fred Littleton is a retired physician who has helped coach AYRA kids since 2008 on a part time basis. Dr. Fred rowed at the Haverford School in Philadelphia, Pa. where his father and grandfather both rowed before him. He was with us when AYRA was first formed and we are lucky to still have him involved.
Board of Directors
Jack Gartner, President and Chief Executive Officer
Martha Williams, Secretary and Program Director/Administrator