May 11, 1999
What were your expectations heading into your inaugural year?
We weren’t really weren’t sure what to expect. When the fall began the greatest unknown for me and my coaching staff was the number of people we would have coming out for the team. We had over 120 females come out in the fall, but that number dwindled. We finally ended up with around 60, and that was a good number for us to work with our first year.
What’s the effect of Notre Dame’s athletic tradition for your team?
When I first met with our team, I stressed to each and every one of them the responsibility they now had representing the University of Notre Dame as student-athletes. It is a great honor to be at an athlete at Notre Dame, and I wanted them to feel it, too. Hopefully soon, we’ll be able to contribute to the athletic success the University has enjoyed for so many years.
One of the most surprising things for me this season was the welcome we received from alumni and parents wherever we competed. Not matter where we went, alumni clubs would there supporting us. It was a neat thing and something that everyone on the team appreciated.
Can someone with no rowing experience join the women’s rowing program at Notre Dame?
Absolutely. One of the unique aspects of women’s rowing at the collegiate level is the novice program that is in place at each school. It gives individuals the opportunity to learn the sport and compete against other rowers who are also at the same level. A person can only compete as a novice for a year and then has to move up to the varsity. The novice program is so important because it is the feeder to our varsity team and is a crucial to the future success of the team. Our novices had a tremendous season this year and will certainly help make our varsity program more competitive next year. If someone entering Notre Dame as a freshman is interested in joining the team, she can contact me or any one of my staff members. Similar to what we did last summer, we’re going to be sending a letter to all females entering Notre Dame in the fall and inviting them to attend our introductory meeting.
Where do you see the program headed at Notre Dame headed given the tremendous growth at the collegiate level all over the country?
The traditional powers in women’s rowing have been those teams from New England and the University of Washington. With the emergence of the sport throughout the country, and especially in the Midwest, a great parity now exists. The growth of the sport is only going to continue and, as that happens, more and more teams are going to challenge the perennial powers. I feel that we accomplished so much this season. Having our Lightweight Eight boat ranked nationally (12th) gives a great deal of credibility to our program and is a tribute to how hard our athletes worked during the entire year to make themselves better.
What are going to be your goals and expectations for next year?
As I mentioned earlier, our novices experienced great success and improvement this past season. With all of them moving up to the varsity team next year, it will only help increase the speed of our varsity boats. Our novice team this year set the precedent for our future novice programs. I am very excited about the progress we made this season, and that was most evident by how our boats finished at the Midwest Championships, our final competition. Against boats we had raced against earlier in the season, we had closed the gap considerably and beat some boats we had lost to early on. Next year, the two major regattas we will concentrate on and prepare for are the Georgetown Invitational and Midwest Championships. I would like to see us place in the top four and six, respectively, in those two meets.
What are some of the long-term goals you have for this program?
Obviously we want to qualify our Varsity Eight boat for an NCAA at-large berth within the next couple of years, and hopefully we can qualify as a team for the championship shortly after that. In women’s rowing, 10 schools qualify for the team competition and then nine more boats are selected for at-large spots in the Varsity Eight race. I do think though that the current NCAA format will change and there will be more schools that will have the opportunity to compete for a national championship. Conferences are beginning to offer championships in women’s rowing, so I don’t think we’re far off from having automatic berths.