Michael Giegerich has been a big part of the area rowing community for years, helping young and inexperienced rowers learn the sport.

Now the 53-year-old moves up to take over as head coach of the Holy Spirit High School boys crew team, one of the most prestigious programs in the area.

Giegerich, an Egg Harbor Township resident, had been the Spartans' freshman coach, and he replaces Brian Duffey, who stepped down after three years at the helm to spend more time with his growing family.

"I'm excited to be the head coach," said Giegerich. "Holy Spirit has had great coaches before me. I hope I can keep up the reputation."

Holy Spirit finished second to St. Augustine Prep in The Press Elite 11 this spring. Giegerich's boat, the Holy Spirit freshman eight, won at the Garden State Scholastic Rowing Championships and the Atlantic County Scholastic Rowing Championships. The Spartans' freshmen eight was named The Press All-Star boat in its category.

The Holy Spirit boys varsity eight was second to St. Augustine in the area. The Spartans also had a Press All-Star second eight.

"The goal is to start winning races and improve over last year's performance," Giegerich said. "I know everyone in the program. I taught them all as freshmen."

Duffey said that he will still be around to help Giegerich, though not in an official capacity.

"I have a 2-year-old and another on the way, so after 13 years of coaching I think it's time to step back," said Duffey, 36, an EHT resident. "It's a change of priorities. (Giegerich) is a great guy and should do well. He was my right-hand man. The kids are definitely going to be working hard because Gigs works them hard. I'm excited for them."

Holy Spirit athletic director Keith Gorman said Giegerich is a great leader who's been involved in all aspects of the school's program.

"Mike has always done a great job, and he has a great staff," Gorman said. "We're excited to have him. He was in maybe the best spot as the freshman coach, because all the kids go through it. Coaching isn't just X's and O's."

Giegerich will have plenty of help, especially from coaching legends Stan Bergman and Bob Garbutt Sr., who will both be assistant coaches. Tom Kresz, a former Saint Joseph's University rower, will be another assistant.

"Coaching with Stan and Bob will be an honor," Giegerich said. "They did so well at the Henley Regatta (in England), and they had so many wins at Stotesbury and the Nationals. They can teach kids so much. Brian was great and taught me a lot, and he's still going to be there to help me out. And Tom Kresz had such a great career at Saint Joseph's in their varsity eight. He can help everybody out."

Giegerich is a former Holy Spirit rower who graduated in 1978. He swam for Shepherd College (W.Va.). He has also coached in the youth program at the Viking Rowing Club in Ventnor Heights since 2000.

When Bergman returned as Holy Spirit's head coach in 2008, he brought Giegerich along as an assistant.

Bergman was Holy Spirit's original coach from 1965 to 1984, taking the Holy Spirit boys varsity eight to Henley five times and winning three. Garbutt took the Atlantic City High School boys varsity eight to Henley in 1994 (finishing second) and 1996.

Duffey, another assistant to Bergman, took over in 2010 when Bergman stepped down.

One of the Holy Spirit team members is Emily Giegerich, Michael's daughter and a rising senior coxswain on the boys crew team. Allison Giegerich, another daughter, was a coxswain for the Old Dominion University (Va.) women's crew team this past spring.

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