Friday, November 19, 2010

Gladstone Will Create Another Dominant Program at Yale

Lined up at the start on the Cooper River (Photo: H. Kitch)

Steve Gladstone made a big move earlier this year, leaving his position at the California Rowing Club to take on the role of head coach at Yale. This left CRC without a head coach, as assistant Joel Scrogin accompanied Gladstone, and led to widespread speculation as to the reasons behind the move. The rivalry between Harvard's Harry Parker and Gladstone, perhaps one of the most intense and important in U.S. collegiate rowing's history, is widely considered to be the main reason for the change of venue. Yale has been far behind the curve for quite a while, but I believe their new chief is going to turn all that on its head.

Each program that Gladstone has touched has turned to gold, and, unlike Parker, who has been at Harvard his entire coaching career (though he has coached crews representing the U.S. at the world championships and the Olympics, in addition to his duties at Harvard), Gladstone has moved around quite a bit (from Princeton, to Harvard, to Cal, to Brown, then back to Cal, and finally to Yale). Every program Gladstone has coached has won an IRA title during his tenure (with the exceptions of Princeton, where his freshmen took silver twice, and Harvard, where his lightweight men had four undefeated seasons and two victories at Henley, but did not attend the IRA at that time). This means that he not only knows how to coach excellent athletes at an elite level varsity program, but also that he knows how to recruit those athletes and rebuild a program. He's had success with both heavyweights and lightweights, he's flexible, knowledgeable, and he's been in this very position before.

When Gladstone came back to Cal in 1997, the program had not won an IRA title since 1976—during his first term as the Bears' Head Coach. In the first two seasons of his second term with the Bears, his varsity squads twice took third at the IRA, and then ripped off four straight IRA Championships from 1999-2002. To paraphrase Gladstone's very own Wikipedia entry, nearly every member of those varsity squads rowed for the U.S. or another country's national team. This shows not only his recruiting talent, but also his ability to develop that talent at the elite level. All of this is why the Bulldogs couldn't be more pleased to welcome their new leader.

Harry Parker has come out with guns blazing—his Harvard squad looks stronger top-to-bottom than it has in several years, as I've discussed. The Bulldogs have some important adjustments to make, as is the case anytime there is a regime change. Gladstone may not be able to pull off the upset this season, but it is coming...soon.

-RR

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