Cook-Callen completes KU rowing staff for 2019 season

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Entering her second year at the helm of the Kansas rowing program, Carrie Cook-Callen has hired three new assistant coaches prior to the start of the 2018-19 season to complete her staff.

Charley Sullivan, Alyssa Armstrong and Madison Hovis join the Jayhawks taking over assistant coach duties under Cook-Callen’s leadership. Cook-Callen had the interim of her title removed following the 2017-18 season as the interim head coach. 

“I am thrilled to complete the coaching staff for the 2018-2019 season,” Cook-Callen said. “All three assistant coaches bring excitement, passion and energy, which our program will benefit from greatly.”

Sullivan comes to Kansas with more than 30 years of coaching experience, including stops at Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Temple and UC Santa Barbara. Sullivan served as an assistant coach for U.S. Rowing during the World University Games in 2015, where the Men’s Eight won a gold medal. In addition to coaching at the collegiate and national levels, Sullivan also spent time at the club and high school levels.

“Charley brings a wealth of outside experience to Kansas and a holistic approach to developing student-athletes,” said Cook-Callen. “He will be instrumental in working with me and our top level athletes.”

Sullivan spent 20 seasons at Michigan, helping head coach Gregg Harstuff develop the Wolverines men’s rowing team into a national power. From 2008-15, the Wolverines earned American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA) National Championships under Sullivan’s guidance. During his tenure, the Wolverine’s First Varsity and Second Varsity claimed the ACRA Championship six times each.

At the conclusion of the 2013 season, Sullivan was named the U.S. Rowing Collegiate Coach of the Year and twice chosen as the ACRA Assistant Coach of the Year. During his time at Michigan, Sullivan mentored 12 national team athletes, six World Cup competitors and four Olympians.

More recently, Sullivan served as the head coach of the men’s rowing team at UC Santa Barbara. While at the helm of the Gauchos program, Sullivan led the Varsity Eight to an ACRA National Championship, while the Freshmen Eight earned a silver medal. The Gauchos’ First Varsity Eight, Second Varsity Eight and First Varsity Four also brought home medals from the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) Championship. At the end of the 2016-17 season, Sullivan was named the Men’s Head Coach of the Year by both the ACRA and WIRA. 

In 2000, Sullivan became the first head coach in program history at Eastern Michigan. He led the Eagles for three seasons. During its inaugural season, the Eagles Second Novice won the South-Central Regional Title.

Prior to Kansas, Armstrong spent three seasons at Old Dominion, one season as a graduate assistant and two years as an assistant coach. In 2015-16, Armstrong helped lead the Lady Monarchs to a sixth-place finish at the Big 12 Championship in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Off the water, the Lady Monarchs also excelled in the classroom in 2015-16, as a total of 22 rowers earned Academic All-Big 12 honors, including 19 first-team selections. 

“Alyssa is energetic coach and does a good job in connecting with student-athletes on and off the water,” Cook-Callen said. “She will play a big role in developing the rowers in our program.”

Armstrong rowed collegiately at the University of Iowa. While at Iowa she picked up consecutive All-Big Ten Academic Team honors (2013-15) and competed in every regatta during her two-year stint. In the 2013-14 season she was a member of the 1V4+, helping the Hawkeyes bring home a sixth-place finish in the Big Ten Championship and finishing fifth in the 1V4+.

In 2014-15, Armstrong joined the 2V8+ for all 10 regattas during the season helping the team finish second at the B1G/Big 12 Challenge. She also helped the team to a sixth-place finish, the second highest scoring performance at the Big Ten Championships in program history, and the highest since 2003.

After spending last season as the volunteer assistant, Hovis was hired on as KU’s third assistant ahead of the 2018-19 season. She also worked as an undergraduate student coach in the fall of 2017. Hovis competed for the Jayhawks from 2013-17 and was a four-time Athletic Director’s and Big 12 Commissioners honor roll honoree.

“Madison is eager to learn as a young coach and grew a lot last year while serving as our volunteer coach,” said Cook-Callen. “I look forward to seeing her continue to take the next steps in her coaching career and assist our newest Jayhawks to learn about the Kansas Way.”

As a rower, Hovis helped KU’s 1V4 to a third-place finish at the Big 12 Championship in 2015 and the Jayhawks’ 3V8 to a first-place medal at the Conference USA Championship in 2014. A 2017 graduate of Kansas, Hovis earned a degree a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in sociology.




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