Paul Coomes - Director of Programs
Paul's journey in rowing started 25 years ago, where he and 14 other students helped start up a small club rowing program at the University of Dayton. His 3+ years of rowing at Dayton could be termed forgettable in terms of results on the water, but his biggest victory came in helping to build a sustainable rowing program that was both competitive and respected not only within the rowing community but also by the University. When he graduated, he volunteered to coach Dayton’s men’s team and discovered his true passion in life – coaching. For three years, he led a Dayton men’s rowing team that experienced significant growth and improved results.
A move to Philadelphia in the fall of 1998 and a chance encounter led to Paul being hired as the Head Coach for Conestoga High School’s yet-to-be-started rowing team. While he had no experience coaching junior athletes, he was excited to have the opportunity to build a new program in what he considers to be rowing nirvana, Philadelphia and Boathouse Row. During his 18 years coaching Conestoga, he built the Club into one of the most respected rowing organizations in the region and the team into a scholastic sculling powerhouse, coaching crews to 21 Stotesbury Cup titles, 25 Scholastic National Championships and multiple gold, silver, and bronze medals at the USRowing Youth Nationals Championships. He was named the Schuylkill Navy Coach of the Year in 2007 and the 2014 American Junior Coaching Conference Girls Sculling Coach of the Year and in 2006, in what he considers to be the highlight of his coaching career, his girls 4x won the Schools/Junior 4x at the Women’s Henley Regatta.
His summers and falls as Conestoga’s coach were spent helping his wife startup PA Rowing Camps, a summer program dedicated to teaching adults and juniors to row, and coaching crews of various levels for several clubs along Boathouse Row, including Undine, Bachelors Barge Club and Crescent Boat Club. Numerous crews under his guidance found success at the junior, intermediate, senior, and elite level. He served as the coach for the US Lightweight Men’s 1x at the 2009 World Championships in Poland. While at Undine, the Club won the Colgan Cup and the Marion D. Ventura Women’s Points Trophy in 2001. His crews also won the Head of the Charles in 2000, 2001, and 2003, the Canadian Henley in 2002 and multiple Club National Championships between 2000 and 2003.
Paul is a degreed engineer and when not involved in the sport of rowing has worked in various professional roles, including project management, product development and innovation management. Paul resides in the East Falls section of Philadelphia with his wife, Amy Giddings, and their three children.
Julian Stephanski - Junior Men's Head Coach
Julian Stephanski returns for his 3rd year to Penn AC Gold, being promoted from the Junior Men’s Associate Head Coach in 2019 to the Junior Men’s Head Coach in 2020. He also enters his second season as Marin Rowing Associations’s Varsity Boy’s Assistant Coach in 2019-2020.
Prior to Marin Rowing, Coach Stephanski spent the past six seasons at Pacific Rowing Club in San Francisco, CA. Most recently he was the Varsity Men’s Head Coach and prior to that he helped with the Novice Men’s and Women’s squads.
Prior to coaching, Coach Stephanski worked at Square, Inc. while becoming a ACE certified personal trainer. As a collegiate rower he was a member of the Gonzaga University men’s team until graduating in 2011 with a degree in psychology with a minor in philosophy.
Coach Stephanski grew up in San Francisco, CA and was a junior at Pacific Rowing Club between 2003-2007. He graduated in 2007 as a three-year letter-winner and earned a gold medal in the Men’s Varsity 8+ his senior year at the USRowing Youth National Championships.
Coach Stephanski currently resides in Daly City, CA.
Serra Sevenler - Junior Women's Head Coach
Serra Sevenler returns for her 2nd year to Penn AC Gold, being promoted from the Junior Women’s Assistant Coach in 2019 to the Junior Women‘s Head Coach in 2020. She is the current Women’s Varsity Coach at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the Director of Rowing at the Genesee Rowing Club. Serra was also the Head Men’s Coach at the University of Rochester in 2017-18. Prior to coaching in Rochester, she was a Graduate Assistant Coach for the Division I women’s team at the University of Buffalo for the 2016-17 season. Before coaching at UB, Serra spent a year as the Lead Junior Rowing Coach at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club in 2015-16.
Serra started rowing at Mercy High School in Rochester, NY where she placed second at Head of the Charles her senior year in the U18 Open Singles. She went on to row at the University of Rochester where she led the team as captain her junior and senior seasons, and won gold at the Dad Vail Regatta in 2015. She holds a Master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Buffalo.
Dave Hammond - 1st Assistant, Junior Women's Coach
Dave Hammond returns for his 3rd to Penn AC Gold, assisting with the junior women’s program. He started rowing at Everett Rowing Association in the state of Washington as a freshman in high school. He was a successful lightweight oarsman, setting the lightweight club erg record, as well as medaling in several lightweight events. His time there culminated in a NW Regional Championship and an appearance in the Youth National Championships in the Lightweight 8+. He spent his college years rowing the club circuit for Orange Coast College and Washington State University. Highlights of his time there include WIRA championships in the Lightweight 8+, Lightweight 4+, and Novice 4+. Those conference championships led to an ACRA National Championship in the Novice 4+, and an ACRA silver medal in the light 4+. Other notable results include a San Diego Crew Classic victory and a medal at the PAC 12 Championship.
Following his career as an athlete, Dave jumped into coaching at Everett Rowing Association. There, he coached crews to several Brentwood Regatta championships as well as a silver medal at the NW Regional Championship. After Everett, Dave moved to Sacramento, CA and began coaching at UC Davis and River City Rowing Club. He still coaches both today. UCD enjoyed one of its most successful years last year, winning the San Diego Crew Classic in the Novice 8+, and picking up medals at WIRA and ACRA. The Varsity 8+ also had one of the highest placements in club history, with a 5th place finish at ACRA. These results led to an overall 3rd place finish for the club at ACRA. Both clubs are experiencing periods of significant growth and he looks forward to another successful spring season before joining us in Philadelphia this summer.
As a coach, Dave believes in creating competitive environments which push athletes to succeed. He finds that competition helps to bring out the best in athletes, allowing them to reach their highest potential, and firmly believes it leads to tight team bonds, a strong culture of hard work, and the constant pursuit of excellence.
“I coach due to the profound effect rowing has had on my life. I hope to have a positive influence on my athletes lives in the way coaches have had for me. I’m thrilled about the opportunity to coach the PennAC junior women this year, and to coach on the historic Boathouse Row. I’m excited for camp to get started!” -Dave