Aug. 1, 2006
Notre Dame, Ind. – Martin Stone, who guided Notre Dame to a ninth-place finish in its first-ever appearance in the team competition at the 2006 NCAA Rowing Championships, has signed a contract extension to remain as head coach of the Irish rowing program it was announced today by Irish director of athletics Kevin White. The two-time BIG EAST and Central Region Coach of the Year will begins his ninth season Notre Dame’s head coach beginning in the fall of 2006.
Over the course of eight seasons of varsity competition, Stone has steadily built the Irish program into a national contender. He was named head coach in October of 1997 after five seasons at the United States Naval Academy. One year following his appointment as its initial coach, Notre Dame began its first season of varsity competition in the fall of 1998.
“In eight short years, our women’s rowing program has enjoyed tremendous growth and success under Martin Stone,” White says. “Under his leadership and guidance, he has steadily built this team into a national-caliber program competing against the very best at the collegiate level. Martin has great vision for the future of Notre Dame rowing and I look forward to him being our head coach for many years to come.”
“It’s very gratifying to know that Kevin White and our administration have confidence in me and are pleased with the direction of our program,” Stone says. “We’ve made tremendous strides over the past couple of years and I look forward to continue putting all of our efforts into winning a national championship. I enjoy working with the student-athletes we have here at Notre Dame; they have a belief in what we are trying to accomplish here and are as focused as I am in helping us become one of the top rowing programs in the country.”
During the past 2005-06 season, Notre Dame’s program achieved unprecedented success when his team earned a ninth-place finish at the NCAA Championships after earning the school’s first-ever team bid. Highlighting the Championship was a victory by the varsity eight boat in the Petite Final as the crew earned a seventh-place finish overall. Both the second varsity eight and varsity four crews also advanced to the Petite Final in their races and finished 12th and 11th, respectively.
While ’06 marked the first time Notre Dame appeared in the team competition, Irish varsity eight crews earned at-large berths in both 2002 and 2004, finishing 16th and 11th, respectively.
Stone was tabbed BIG EAST Coach of the Year in ’06 for the second time in his career after Notre Dame won its third consecutive conference crown. He also was named the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) Central Region Coach of the Year (an honor that he also earned in 2002) after the Irish also finished a program-best third at the Central/South Region Championships.
After beginning the season unranked in ’06, Notre Dame’s varsity eight boat finished fifth in the final CRCA/US Rowing ranking. In addition to finishing seventh at the NCAAs, the Irish varsity eight copped gold medals at both the BIG EAST and Central/South Region Championships. The win at the Central/South Region Championships was the first in a Grand Final for a Notre Dame varsity eight boat. Earlier in the spring, Notre Dame recorded its highest finish ever — fourth place — in the Jessop-Whittier Cup race at the San Diego Crew Classic.
A record three rowers from the varsity eight crew earned All-America recognition by the CRCA, highlighted by sophomore Amanda Polk becoming the second rower in the program’s history to earn first-team honors and the school’s first-ever two-time honoree (she was a second-team honoree in 2005. In addition to Polk, senior Sarah Palandech and sophomore Julie Sobolewski garnered second-team honors. Under Stone’s tutelage, five different rowers have earned All-America accolades.
Five rowers (the most in school history) earned CRCA all-Central Region honors, including four first-team honorees. Polk was a first-team honoree for the second consecutive year, while Palandech, Sobolewski and coxswain Maria Romano copped first-team honors for the first time in their careers. Melissa Felker rounded out the list as a second-team selection as Notre Dame’s CRCA all-Central Region selections numbers 17 over the past eight years.
Stone’s student-athletes also have excelled in the classroom with 17 being named to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star team for the ’05-’06 school year. The program has produced one CoSIDA Academic All-American (Leah Ashe was a second-team honoree in 2001) and on 19 occasions Irish rowers have been recipients of the CRCA National Scholar-Athlete Award.
Before his arrival at Notre Dame, Stone spent five years as the women’s rowing coach at the United States Naval Academy, where he began his coaching career.
He started his coaching career as the women’s rowing coach at the United States Naval Academy, serving for five years. In 1994, Stone coached the Mids to a varsity eight title at the Champion International Collegiate Rowing Championships. Navy not only earned the title, but also was awarded the prestigious Anita DeFrantz Trophy for overall performance by women’s crews at the Champion International Regatta.
Two years prior in 1992, Stone directed the Mids’ varsity eight to its first gold medal at the Dad Vail Regatta, the East Coast’s largest crew regatta. The second varsity eight also won a gold medal at the Dad Vail with the team winning the Seitz Trophy for overall team performance by women’s crews.
The next season, Navy swept all of the races at the Patriot League Championships. The first novice boat also achieved success for Stone in 1993, by placing first at the Champion International Collegiate Regatta. Stone’s fifth year and final year at the helm of the Navy crew program marked a new era for the program. The Midshipmen joined the prestigious Eastern Association of Women’s Rowing Colleges (EAWRC), which includes schools such as Brown, Princeton and Virginia. In the team’s first season in the EAWRC, the first varsity placed third in the third-level finals, while the second varsity won the third-level finals at the EAWRC Championships.
Prior to taking over Navy’s women’s program, Stone served as the Mids plebe lightweight coach in 1991. He also was an assistant rowing coach at his alma mater, Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif., in 1990, working with both the men’s and women’s programs and more specifically, with the varsity and novice women.
Stone began his rowing career at Saint Mary’s College as an undergraduate. With the Gaels, he was named the most valuable oarsman three years and went on to earn three letters, two in the heavyweight boat and one in the lightweight boat.