Skip to main content
culture of love     engaged and empowered learning       schoolTool youtube facebook twitter Calendar    
ithaca home


CoachLink TeamFive Ithaca High School graduates are developing a radio device that allows crew coaches to better communicate with their rowers, building on work they started while at IHS.
CoachLink aims to create 
effective technology to help rowing coaches, who are stationed on land or in remote boats, to easily communicate with teams. Coaches send directions to the coxswain, instructing rowers on direction and pace. Effective communication is also critical to safety as it helps rowers avoid crashing into other boats or obstacles in the water.
Currently, coaches use antiquated megaphones to communicate with their rowers, often ineffectively due to volume limitations and lack of sound quality. To solve this issue, recent IHS graduates Benjamin Ellis, Filip Jander, Paul Fisher-York, Scott Smith, and Ava Cohen are building a prototype of a radio device that can be installed in boats and connect coaches to their rowers over water and from long distances.
“I’m passionate about this innovation because it’s a real problem that my teammates and I have witnessed first-hand and I want to help crew teams succeed. Based on our market research, many teams struggle to hear anything the coach says and it has had some 
very real, very negative consequences for teams,” said Ellis.
The team formed last year in the high school’s Engineering Design and Development class, which enables students to design and construct solutions to real-world problems.
CoachLink spent the first part of the class 
conducting research to hone their business plan. In January, the team competed in a Shark Tank-style pitch night at Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, where they presented their findings to a four-judge panel and discussed possible next steps for their business. CoachLink won first place and was awarded $450 to further develop their prototype.
Over the summer, CoachLink engaged in an intense 11-week Hardware Accelerator program at Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, which enabled team members to gain hands-on entrepreneurial experience. The team worked on building their prototype and compiled consumer research by interviewing collegiate coaches and rowers to determine if their product is commercially desirable to those in the rowing and crew market.  
During the program, CoachLink held its own alongside entrepreneurs and teams from Cornell University and the greater Ithaca community.
“It doesn’t matter what age you are, anyone can be an entrepreneur,” said Cohen. “We may have just graduated high school, but we’re focused on solving a customer problem and starting our own business from the ground up. Having this experience is amazing and we’re so grateful to be here.” 

CoachLink Prototype

Belle Sherman
Beverly J Martin
Cayuga Heights
Fall Creek
South Hill
Boynton Middle
DeWitt Middle
Ithaca HS
Lehman Alternative


Ithaca City School District
Dr. Luvelle Brown, Superintendent
400 Lake Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 274-2101