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Tim Simon, Head Coach and Head Novice Coach

Tim Simon started his rowing career as a high school freshman at Orchard Lake St. Mary's. Throughout his high school rowing career, he won multiple Midwest Scholastic Rowing Championships, he medaled at the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Championships, and he competed in various finals at the US Scholastic National Championships. During this time, Tim began his venture into coaching. He ran the middle school summer rowing camps at Orchard Lake St. Mary's, and became the head coach at the local masters club, the Oakland Rowing Association.

Following high school, Tim was recruited by the University of Pennsylvania where he rowed as a Quaker for four years. He earned a spot in the top varsity boat for three consecutive years, and received the honor of being elected captain by his fellow teammates during his senior year.

Upon graduation from Penn, Tim returned to Orchard Lake St. Mary's for the fall season and took on the novice coaching position. He led his novice eight to a 2nd place finish at the Head of the Orchard, a 2nd place finish at the Frogtown Races, and a 1st place finish at the Speakmon Regatta.

At the end of the fall season, Tim accepted a full-time tech position in the San Francisco Bay Area and spent five years working at various tech startups out west. In 2015, Tim moved to Chicago and worked at Google where he led a team that advised Fortune 250 companies on various digital strategies.

Tony Brooks, Head Girls Varsity Coach

Tony Brooks has been involved in competitive rowing for over 40 years (first as a Lightweight Rower at Harvard and later on the US Olympic Rowing Team) and continues to race in the Head of the Charles every October with his Harvard Lightweight teammates.  He has competed in one (1) Pan American Games, two (2) Olympics, three (3) World Championships and has won a medal at Henley.

Tony states: “My goal is to build the same love of rowing and racing in the athletes – to give them the skills to exceed their expectations and have the opportunity one day to strive to be the best in world at the Olympic Games. For most of the girls, this is their first experience with this ancient sport. I want it to be a good one. My coaching style focuses on technique – take no bad strokes. I emphasize excellent form matched by effective application of power on a base of efficient cardiovascular conditioning to increase boat speed. This is the ultimate team sport where matching your movement to the crew is essential to being successful. Equally important is development of character among the crew – you never want to let them down by your actions either on or off the water. I continue a rowing tradition from Harvard and yell, “Eat their livers!” as the crews shove off the dock to race.

In addition to coaching, Tony also repair shells and other equipment. When not coaching, Tony does executive searches for corporations as Managing Director – Chicago for The Ansley Consulting Group, Inc.  He was a member of the Chicago 2016 Committee seeking to bring the Olympics and Paralympics Games to Chicago.  Tony is a US Rowing Level 3 Coach.


Len Richards, Head Boys Varsity Coach

Len Richards rowed for three years in high school and four years at Yale where he lettered twice. He then took a short break of 39 years before returning to the water as a masters rower. 
In 2009, Len began coaching the Boys' and Girls' Novice rowers at St. Ignatius and became the Varsity  Girls' coach the following year. He has enjoyed every minute of his coaching career and has retired from a career in commercial real-estate development and asset management.

Emma DeValk, Assistant Novice Coach

Emma DeValk began rowing as a freshman at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she instantly fell in love with the sport. She won the ACRA Indoor Championship in 2020 in the Women’s 2k and was honored to be elected captain the following fall. During her junior and senior year, she worked as the campus representative for The Hidden Opponent, an organization dedicated to expanding services nationwide for student-athlete mental health. Emma currently ranks in the top five all-time scores at University of Illinois in the Women’s 2k and 6k.

Emma began coaching for Lincoln Park Boat Club her junior year of college, and currently coaches the adult Novice and Intermediate teams. She has experience leading middle school, high school, adult, and community Learn-to-Row programs.

“Coaching has only furthered my respect for this sport, and has taught me to love rowing in a whole new way. Watching athletes’ confidence on the water grow is beyond fulfilling, for both coach and athlete. I’m excited to be a part of the SICR staff and cannot wait to get the next generation of athletes involved and excited about our beautiful sport.”

Emma continues her education as a graduate student in Art Therapy, and continues to row with Lincoln Park’s Competitive Team. 

Brandon Burdine, Rowing Coach

Brandon began his rowing career at the University of Notre Dame. He rowed from 2013-2017 and was elected captain by his teammates his junior year. After graduation, Brandon began working as an engineer for an RV manufacturing company in northern Indiana. In 2019, he returned to the sport of rowing and to Notre Dame as the Head Novice Coach, where he led the novice 8 to a bronze medal at ACRA in 2021. After the 2021 season, Brandon moved to Chicago to continue his engineering career. He is very excited to bring his passion for rowing to the SICR team and to help develop the next generation of athletes both on and off the water.


Mark Cheng, Rowing Coach

Mark started his rowing career at the University of Notre Dame where he rowed for 5 years from 2018-2023. He competed at Head of the Charles in 2021 in the Collegiate 8 category and competed in his school's top boat his last two years. After graduating, Mark started working as an engineering consultant for one of the top consulting companies in the world where he continues to further his career today. He is excited to return to the sport of rowing as a coach and use his experience to grow the success of the SICR team. 


Rich Sims - Head Coach Emeritus

Rich began his rowing career in New York during the 1950's, rowing with such legendary greats as Jim Dietz. Rich has brought his extensive experience to St. Ignatius Chicago Rowing since the fall of 2001.


MIKE CASADAS - Novice Coach Emeritus

Coach Casadas started rowing as a freshman at Lane Tech High School in 1960.  He rowed all four years and for Lincoln Park Boat Club until 1966. He competed in the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta in 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1965. In 1963 he won the finals in the V8+ & V4- at the Central States High School Championships (AKA Midwest Championships). In 1966 Coach moved back to Argentina, where he was born. While attending college in Argentina he competed from 1971-1973. He moved back to the US and started rowing in 2006 as part of a Masters 8+ crew. He was at the Head of the Charles four times. Twice in an 8+, 4+ and a 2x.