The most famous -- and feared -- coach on television has made a substantial donation to the Palmetto High School Rowing Club.
Former Sarasota resident Jane Lynch, who won a Golden Globe last month for playing the sharp-tongued Sue Sylvester on the hit musical television series “Glee,” and her wife, Lara Embry, have given $15,000 in money and equipment to Manatee County’s first rowing team.
“I’ve never rowed, but I’m vowing to sometime soon,” Lynch said Thursday when the couple phoned the Bradenton Herald from their Los Angeles home.
“She’s no neophyte, though,” Embry added. “She’s been out to plenty of races.”
Said Lynch: “I’m planning on going with Lara to Palmetto and supporting the team -- and maybe I will get in a boat then.
Embry’s rowing partner happens to be Trish Jackson, the founder and coach of Palmetto High School Rowing Club.
“We love to go out and support our great friend Trish,” Embry said.
Embry plans to visit Manatee County as often as once a month and assist the rowing club. A psychologist who worked for Carter Psychology Center in Bradenton until relocating to Southern California, Embry and Jackson have won medals at USRowing Masters Nationals as well as other races around the country. They met six years ago.
“Lara is one of my closest friends,” Jackson told the Herald. “And she is my rowing partner, which is thicker than anything else.”
A visit by Embry to the new rowing team, which already has more than 30 students, prompted the gift.
Embry and Lynch are challenging the Manatee Youth Rowing Program, along with its families, friends and supporters, to raise another $5,000. If their goal is successful, the couple will match the total with an additional $5,000 grant for the program.
“I’m very blessed that they’re great friends and it blew my mind when they told me this,” Jackson said. “We’re working on how we can raise that money when times are tough, through the generosity of people like a volunteer coach who already gave $2,000.”
Lynch, who also earned an Emmy and Screen Actors Guild award last year for playing hot-tempered, high school cheerleading coach Sylvester, has watched Jackson with her rowing students.
Lynch laughed when asked about similarities between her character and the real-life coach’s approach to instructing teenagers.
“They’re probably pretty close,” the actress said. “They’re both tough because you need to be, but I don’t see Trish shooting anyone out of a cannon.”
As for upcoming episodes of “Glee,” which airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays on Fox, Lynch looks forward to people getting a chance to witness her character perform the My Chemical Romance song, “Sing,” with the glee club.
“I’ll be doing my own singing with the whole group, baby,” Lynch said.
Wade Tatangelo, features writer/columnist, can be reached at (941) 745-7057. Visit his blog at bradenton.com.