Mark Frampton: Starting a Rowing Legacy

Mark Frampton, coaching the Bolles Crew team in the 90’s, photo courtesy of Mark Frampton
Mark Frampton, coaching the Bolles Crew team in the 90’s, photo courtesy of Mark Frampton

Can you give a basic outline of your life?

Born in 1958 in Lake City, FL. Never lived there. Son of a naval officer. Lived in a number of cities, and one other country, while I was growing up. Graduated high school from Lemoore, CA, where a major naval air station is located. Attended Jacksonville University for my undergraduate and graduate degree. Earned my MBA in 1987. Went into banking until 1992, then I was doing professional development, soft skills training, was a marketing consultant, and taught out at UNF.

And then Bolles wanted to start a rowing program, and I was teaching adults how to row over at the Jacksonville Rowing Club. So I came over to answer a few questions at Bolles about rowing, and what it would take to start a program, since 60 students here signed a petition saying they wanted rowing.
I came over. Answered a few questions. Forgot to say no to the big question, “Will you coach?” And that was a career-changing move which I have not regretted.

When and where have you been happiest in your life?

Here at Bolles. It’s primarily because every year is different, with a new dynamic of students to come in. It’s the youthful energy, being around a High School campus made up of motivated, driven teachers, administrators, and most of all, just being around students that are just thirsty for life. That’s been the most exciting part of the last 25 years.

How long have you been rowing?

Since 1977. So, learned to row at Jacksonville University, and took a brief period of time off during my banking days- it was impossible to row or to coach during that time period. And then once I was able to shift some of my job responsibilities, I was able to get back into coaching as well as to row. I still do it to this day.

What is the Jacksonville Rowing Club (JRC)?

So JCR is significant in Bolles history, because when the Bolles program was starting, I was president of the Jacksonville Rowing Club, and provided the initial shell (boat), which was a four, to help the Bolles students get on the water. The first season, the fall of 1994, Bolles rowed under the Jacksonville Rowing Club name. And because it was very successful, this sport became an official varsity sport in 1995.

Why did you transition out of banking and consulting, and into teaching and coaching?

Well, it became a time issue. I attempted to consult and coach at the same time, and that was very difficult. So then, after that first year of trying to balance both, that’s when the school was gracious enough to allow me to teach economics, manage the waterfront, act as a 10th grade advisor, and coach rowing. So they were able to pull together a full time job, I was able to transition totally into Bolles.

What has been the lowest point of your life?

I had the benefit of growing up in different environments. With every two years moving, I was unhappy every time we moved, because it was an adjustment. I didn’t know anyone, and didn’t know how I’d fit in. And with each one of those, it turned out to be even better. So that’s the gift I think my parents gave
me—this constant change has allowed me to adapt to just about any situation.

Has there ever been a time when you felt that you truly failed?

A multitude of times. So those biggest failures come from just the point of making a decision, making the wrong decision, not getting too stressed out about it, and just redirecting and moving forward. But yeah, the list is long and distinguished, with many, many mistakes along the way.

What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Work hard play hard. It was from a former boss in my banking days. As a whole, play would be going and pursuing passions…
I had an opportunity to go up and see the white coat seals off the coast of the Magellan Islands, north of Nova Scotia, which was a true adventure. Or, an adventure such as going up to Alaska and enjoying just another part of the world, another part of the country, or traveling Europe, going into Russia, which was Soviet Union at the time, to see a different part of it. Playing in the sense of just going outside normal life activities.

What would be your most treasured memory?

Time on the water.