Zach Spitzer – Head Boys Coach/Director

headcoach@nereidbc.org

Zach began his rowing career at Niskayuna High School where he learned to scull and sweep. He then went on to row at Syracuse University for his freshman year. Following that, he began working for the athletic department at Syracuse University, earning his Masters in Secondary Education.

After graduating, Zach went on to coach at Niskayuna High, PNRA/Mercer, Row New Jersey and Saugatuck Rowing Club. In his time at each club, Zach has coached boats to the finals at Canadian Henley, Club Nationals, Youth Nationals and Top 15 finishes at Head of the Charles.

His goal is to make a boathouse of competitive athletes that not only have a passion for rowing, but a passion for life. He will develop a culture where athletes push each other, hold each other accountable and build lasting friendships through hard work, determination and fun.

Jessica Eiffert-Spitzer- Head of Athlete Development/Head Varsity Girls Coach

athletedev@nereidbc.org

Jessica began her rowing career at Pittsford Crew in Rochester New York. She won multiple NYS Championships and earned a gold medal at Junior World Championships in the 4+ her senior year.

She went on to row at the University of Michigan, earning 2nd at the NCAA Championships in 2012. In her summers should would row for the U23 National Team, earning three golds and one silver medal over her two summers on the team. She then went on to train with the National Team in Princeton, and have a brief stint as a Volunteer Assistant Coach at the University of Texas.

Following her rowing career, Jessica was the Head of Beginner/Intermediate at Saugatuck Rowing Club, before moving on to be the Women’s Head Coach at PCRA in 2018. Before coming to us, she was an Assistant Coach at Rutgers University.

Jessica is also a Certified Personal Trainer and will be offering personal training out of Nereid.

Ryan Lillis- Boatman/Assistant Coach

ryan.lillis96@gmail.com

Ryan began his rowing career as a coxswain at St. Peter’s Prep where he coxed the boy’s junior 4+ to a Stotesbury Cup and SRAA Nationals gold medal. He then went on to cox the varsity 8+ for four years at Marist College culminating in Marist’s return to the IRA Regatta for the first time in over a decade in 2018. Additionally, Ryan coxed the Vesper U23 Men’s team to multiple medals at Club Nationals and a gold medal in the U23 8+ at Canadian Henley in 2017. After graduating from Marist, Ryan spent time coaching at New York Rowing Association and Mary Whipple’s 9th Seat coxswain camp. Most recently, Ryan served as a volunteer assistant coach for the Georgetown Heavyweight men in 2019 while working towards his Master’s degree.

Ryan’s goal is to help athletes become detail-oriented students of the sport and for the athletes to develop a desire to grow and improve. He is excited to share his love of rowing with the athletes and wants to help create a fun and competitive environment.

“I’m very happy to share my passion of helping boats go fast with the rowers at Nereid!” 

Connor Sawyers- Head of Beginner/Intermediate

Briant Canha- Assistant Coach

Briant began his rowing career in 1968 as a 12-year-old at the Buckingham Browne and Nichols School in Cambridge Massachusetts. Rowing for BB&N he placed 1st in the Youth Fours at Head of the Charles in 1973 and again in 1974. He started coaching in 1975. He subsequently went on to row or coach with various clubs in the US and abroad including Cambridge Boat Club, Belmont Rowing Club, Narragansett Boat Club, Munich Rowing Club, Corinthians Club de Regattas, Ecorse, PRRA, St. Andrew Boat Club, Montclair High School, Carolina Scullers and CHAOS. He founded the Free Radical Rowing Club in 2002, an invitation only club and flag of convenience for rowers worldwide. He has been enjoying rowing and coaching on the Passaic since 2001, introducing Masters and Juniors to the sport. He coached a Nereid Under 17 Men’s Club National Championship 4x in 2004. Briant is an advocate for inclusive rowing and enjoys sculling with his youngest son, Justin who is on the autism spectrum. His oldest son, Julian is the Head Coach of DC National Rowing Club. A self-described “boathouse rat” Briant can be found most days puttering around the Nereid boathouse.

Jennifer Hagedorn- Assistant Coach

Jenn began her rowing career in 2012 at Greater Dayton Rowing Association in Ohio, where she quickly found a love for the sport. Her junior year of college, she left the Midwest to row at Sacred Heart University, where she worked her way up to the V8+. Less than a year after graduating, she began as the volunteer assistant coach for Manhattan College Women’s Rowing. In her first season on the water, she coached the V4+ to the program’s highest placing finish at the 2019 MAAC Championship. Coming out of COVID, she coached the 2V8+ to yet another highest placing finish at MAACs in 2021. After that, she switched gears to be the head of the middle school program at Manhasset for a year.  

Jenn has attributed much of her successes in life to the work ethic and perseverance she learned from the sport. She wants the athletes she coaches to take the same important skills away from the sport as she has. 

“I am pumped to bring my passion for rowing to Nereid’s competitive program!”