Brannon Johnson Founder and Head Coach
Philadelphia native Brannon Johnson is the founder and head coach of BLJ Community Rowing. Her extensive career in rowing started at the age of 15 when she learned to row at the Fairmount Park Community Rowing Program.
Her competitive training started on the Schuylkill River where she rowed as a single sculler under the tutelage of Kay MacDonald. She trained at Boston University’s elite summer program for two consecutive years, after which she competed in and placed in both the Stotesbury Regatta and the Philadelphia City Championships.
Her outstanding high school racing career led to local attention and a full scholarship to the University of Texas where she rowed at the Division 1 varsity level for four years and competed as a single sculler in the Henley Royal Regatta on the Thames—one of the longest standing and largest regattas in the world.
Brannon’s successful athletic career transitioned into teaching and coaching shortly after graduating college. She began teaching learn-to-row classes through Mount Airy Learning Tree (MALT) in Philadelphia. As her students graduated to more advanced levels of skill, year round coaching at a higher level was needed and BLJ Community Rowing was born. Since 2003 Brannon has taught and coached more than 700 Philadelphia area residents, representing all skill levels and ages ranging from ages 18 to 70.
Brannon offers group and private coaching year round and teaches learn-to-row courses through MALT, Chester County Night School, corporate team clinics and private lessons. She continues to row and compete and can often be found coaching from the bow of her student’s boats during practices.
Not ironically called ‘A Boathouse Without Walls’, Brannon and BLJ Community Rowing are passionately committed to making the sport of rowing and the river itself accessible to people of all backgrounds, especially those who have not traditionally had easy access to the sport.
Marqus Brown Assistant Coach
Marqus began rowing in the summer of 2008 at the Fairmount Park Rowing Camp. By his senior year in high school, he was offered a chance to row at Bachelor's Barge Club representing his high school, Girard College. In the men's varsity single sculls he earned Silver at the Philadelphia City Championships and respectable finishes in the Stotesbury Cup Regatta and SRRA National Championships. He is currently a Junior at La Salle University and has been a member of the varsity boat since his freshman year. He coaches for BLJ Community Rowing and indoor rowing at Rowzone in Manayunk.
Sam Franklin Assistant Coach
Vesper Boat Club (1999-present)
Chestnut Hill Academy Men's Crew (2004-2008)
Scholastic National Championships, Bronze, Men's Varsity Double (2008)
Philadelphia City Championship, Silver, Men's Varsity Double (2008)
David Banks Assistant Coach
David Banks began rowing at Winston Churchill High School in his hometown of Potomac, Md. He continued rowing as a collegiate athlete at Stanford University where he earned an undergraduate degree in Urban Studies and a graduate degree in Construction Management. David is a two-time Olympian and a five-time national team athlete.