It has taken me a short while to get used to this abrupt, yet appropriate slogan of Georgetown Rowing. Like many things on the Hilltop, I have grown very comfortable with it in a brief amount of time. Having been here for just over a month and a half now, my wife and I have been overwhelmed by the warm welcome we have received by the Georgetown community. This truly is a place that cares about the people.
I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and give a brief overview of the season so far, as well as a preview of things to come.
I am coming to the Hilltop with my wife Katharine and two year old son, Henry, from Berkeley, CA. I had been on the coaching staff of UC Berkeley for the last seven years. Both my wife and I are from the east coast and I have to say, it’s GREAT to be back!
Full time practice for the squad began a week after the first day of classes and since day one, I have been impressed with the athletes’ willingness to do what is asked of them. They are a wonderful group of student-athletes and they have been a pleasure to coach. Everyone is adjusting to the training so far and we are already seeing significant improvements on the ergs.
We opened the racing season with the Head of the Potomac. While we have only been practicing full time for a few weeks, I was very pleased with the results of the entire squad. Our open four ‘A’ entry was able to win the event and beat all entries from the Naval Academy, while our ‘B’ entry finished 6th. In the Club 8 entry, our 2V came in second, only 5 seconds behind an older and more experienced crew from Potomac Boat Club. The lightweights also had a solid performance, placing all 3 of their 8’s in the top 10 of the Club 8. Job well done to the GU women as well, they won the Open 8 event.
The highlight of the weekend, though, was remembering the long and storied coaching career of Tony Johnson. We had a beautiful weekend filled with sunshine and the participation of alumni spanning over the last six decades. The weekend festivities began with a Friday night (very) happy hour at The Tombs, followed by an alumni row on Saturday morning. As expected, the happy hour had better attendance, but we still managed to field 3 eights of alumni for the morning row. After seeing them back in the boat, I have to say, they still got it!
The 75 and sunny weather conditions could not have been any better for the afternoon BBQ, held at the Alumni House. This was an opportunity for the alumni to gather and be heard by our Director of Athletics, Lee Reed, as well as our sport supervisor, Pat McArdle. Both Lee and Pat have been incredibly supportive of my vision of the team and the program as a whole. It is obvious to them that we have a passionate and supportive alumni group. That passion was given a voice (and a microphone) at that evening’s reception for Tony at Leo J. O’Donovan Hall. The almost 200 people in attendance were a great snapshot into Tony’s career, as an athlete and coach. The attendees included Tony’s family, hordes of GU alumni, six Yale alumni, and even three head coaches from different rowing programs. It was a beautiful celebration of the long and very successful career of a man who has had a tremendous impact on our sport. The weekend would not have been possible without the efforts of Mike Driscoll and Pat McArdle. Many thanks to Lee Reed, as well, for succumbing himself to so many rowing stories!
As we move past the Head of the Potomac, we will be focused solely on the Head of the Charles. I am very happy to say that both our HW and LW champ 8 entries were accepted. We have already amassed a large and enthusiastic group of alumni who will also be racing. I hope to see many Hoya alumni cheering them on from the banks of the Charles.
I would like to thank the entire Georgetown rowing staff for making my transition an easy one. The women’s staff has been very supportive and we have begun the year with a collaborative effort. I would like to thank Giuseppe Lanzone for the work he does with the lightweight team. Finally, I would like to thank Mike Guerrieri and Vince Puma for their tireless efforts with the freshmen. They are doing a fantastic job filling the boathouse with the right people.
In all my years in collegiate rowing, I have never encountered an alumni group as supportive as what I have seen at Georgetown. Your love for the Hilltop and your passion for the team is palpable. It has been a pleasure every time I interact with alumni and I look forward to getting to know all of you better. I will try my best to do the program, which you hold so dear to your hearts, the justice it deserves.