Brian Wendry

Director of Rowing Programs

Brian has worked for Riverfront Recapture since 1998 and has been Director of Rowing Programs since 2005. After rowing lightweight at Ithaca College, he was the Assistant Men’s Coach for Wesleyan University. He then coached under Seattle boat-builder and former Olympic rowing coach, Stan Pocock, as the Assistant Coach of the Seattle Yacht Club Rowing Program, where he later became Head Coach. After earning an MA in English and an MS in Industrial Relations at Iowa State University, he returned to the east coast and coached at Middletown High School and the Ethel Walker School for Girls.  Brian also teaches an Introduction to Sport Management class at Nichols College.  

Jonathan Near

Assistant Director of Rowing Programs/Men's Team Head Coach

Jonathan rowed and graduated from the University of Albany and has more than 12 years coaching experience at the Burnt Hills Rowing Association, the University of Albany, the University of Connecticut, Power 10, and Riverfront.  While coaching at Albany, he created a custom student-athlete study plan, Focus Points for Change, that scheduled tutoring, mentoring and homework hours to increase the GPA and well-being of his rowers. He previously worked at the New Haven rowing shell manufacturer, Vespoli, USA, coordinating deliveries, repairs, and offsite vendor events throughout the country.  Jonathan's Masters men's teams have placed as high as second in the Men's Team Point standings at USRowing's Masters Nationals.

Chris Hayes

Boys’ Head Coach/Director of Riverfront Park Operations

After learning to row at Riverfront, Chris rowed at the University of Connecticut and later coached the UConn Men’s program. He was the Assistant Director of Rowing Programs before becoming Riverfront's Director of Park Operations.  In 2009, his Varsity Boy’s 4+ took 1st at the 38th Annual Head of the Schulykill Regatta in Philadelphia, PA, and in 2012 and 2015 they earned one of only 36 invitations nationwide to compete at USRowing’s Youth National Championships.

Allyson Zoppa

Experienced, Intermediate and Beginner Coach

Allyson has spent her summers with Riverfront since 2004 (coaching, maintaining equipment and managing morning programs) and has been an Assistant Coach with the University of Connecticut's Women's Rowing Team since 2008. A graduate of East Hartford High School, Allyson began sculling at Riverfront when she was twelve years old, competed on Riverfront’s High School Team, and went on to row at UConn, where she earned her BA and an MS in Kinesiology – Sport Management. As a rower, Allyson was voted Captain her senior year and medaled twice at the Big East Championships and once at the Dad Vail Championship Regatta. As a coach, her crews have medaled once at the Big East Championships and twice at the Dad Vail, including a 2010 gold medal for placing first out of 25 novice women’s crews..

Justin Watson

Girls' Head Coach/Women's Head Coach

Justin was previously the Assistant Men’s Coach at Wesleyan University for four years, where he also earned an MA in Liberal Studies. Justin joined Riverfront in 2010. He is a Recording Engineer and Instructor of Audio Engineering at Trod Nossel Recording Studios in Wallingford. He also teaches Music Production at Milford Academy. He began rowing with Middletown High School and Middletown Parks and Recreation, and has coached at both his alma maters and at the Pioneer Valley Rowing Association. Justin graduated from Franklin Pierce University, where he rowed, winning Most Valuable Rower honors twice and also earning the Coach’s Award.

Steve Gallet

Men’s Assistant Coach

Steve is currently a professional pilot for Net Jets/Executive Jets Inc. and previously served as its President and Executive Vice President. For thirty-two years he was a member of the United States Army, 101st Airborne, and the Connecticut Army National Guard; he flew for the160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and the Rapid Deployment Task Force. An avid oarsman and student of rowing, Steve has been rowing for 10 years and began coaching five years ago at the Farmington Valley Rowing Association.

Rebecca Likar

Rec Team Coordinator/Experienced, Intermediate and Beginner Coach

Rebecca began her rowing career with East Lyme High School and Thames River Sculls, then went on to row for the University of CT, where she earned a BA and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction.  She was a four-year member of the Big East Conference’s All-Academic Rowing Team and a four-year recipient of UConn’s Director of Athletics Scholar-Athlete Award. As a senior, she was awarded the UConn Rowing Husky Award and the UConn Club’s Outstanding Senior Scholar-Athlete Award. She previously served as the UConn Men’s Head Coach, and rows with Riverfront's Women's Racing Team; she was in the 4+ that medaled at the 2011 Head of the Charles, the world's largest regatta.  Rebecca is a fifth grade teacher at the Eli Terry Elementary School in South Windsor. 

Liahna Gonda-King

Novice Girls Coach

Liahna started as a coxswain with Everett Rowing Association in Washington State and continued to cox at St. Mary’s College of Maryland where she earned a B.A. in Biological Sciences. She earned her M.S. in Biological Sciences at the University of Rhode Island and now coxes for the Women’s Racing Team at Riverfront.  Liahna teaches 9th/10th grade Science at Bulkeley High School in Hartford.