CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Harvard Athletics has renamed the Radcliffe Heavyweight Rowing coach endowment from The Friends of Radcliffe Rowing Head Coach for Women’s Heavyweight Crew to The Liz O’Leary Head Coach for Radcliffe Heavyweight Crew, following the May 2023 retirement of longtime head coach Liz O’Leary.
The endowment, originally announced in June 2019, was made possible through a group of dedicated and loyal rowing alumnae, friends and parents. It ensured a commitment to the continued success of the Radcliffe rowing program and, at the time, was the 24th head-coach endowment at Harvard.
“It is most fitting for Liz O’Leary’s name to forever be attached to this head coach position,” shared Erin McDermott, The John D. Nichols ’53 Family Director of Athletics. “The program and Liz are inextricably linked and that has been solidified by alumnae who received so much from her because she gave them everything she had to give.”
The oldest women’s rowing program in the Ivy League, Radcliffe rowing began in the early 70’s and was recognized as a varsity program in 1972. Since its inception, the program has pursued prominence on the national and international stage, including representing the United States in Moscow at the Eastern European Championships in 1973. Twelve Radcliffe student-athletes, meanwhile, have competed for the United States in the Olympic Games since 1988.
In 37 seasons, O’Leary helped Radcliffe win seven of the program’s nine Eastern Sprints titles along with the inaugural Ivy League crown in 2012. She also led the Black and White to the NCAA Championships 18 times, with her 2003 team capturing the national title.
“I am so very grateful for the remarkable generosity of those who created and supported this endowment,” O’Leary said. “I am proud that it honors the commitment of so many strong and outstanding women who have rowed from Weld Boathouse and thankful it preserves the history of the Black and White of Radcliffe Crew!”
“I know that every RVH athlete understands the incredible opportunity our sport provides and is proud of both the strong tradition of Radcliffe and the excitement of racing in a remarkably competitive Ivy League and beyond,” O’Leary added. “This team has a deep history and a very bright future. I wish great success in the years to come. Go RVH!!”
Following in the footsteps of Harvard women’s lacrosse and basketball, this endowment was the third alumnae-driven effort to recognize a head coach in Harvard Athletics history. The then-Radcliffe Rowing Head Coach for Women’s Heavyweight Crew endowment was made possible through the generosity of the following donors: Holly Fling Austin AB’01 and Roger Austin; Kathryn Fauss Patton Beal AB’94; Jill R. Carlson AB’12 and John H. Carlson P’12; Mollie Durkin Fadule AB’05; Leigh R. Fraser AB’93, JD’96 and Piotr S. Sobieszczyk AB’93; Julia H. Gluck AB’05 and Family; Catherine Han AB’91; Katrinka B. Hrdy AB’00 and David V. Joffe AB’00; Alexandra Kay Kuschner AB’10; Victoire Keane Lang AB’88, MBA’94 and Kenneth W. Lang; Nancy Herman Loucks AB’78 and Michael K. Loucks AB’77; Susan T. Mahan AB’91, MPH’07 and Steven Kirincich; Karen Weltchek Mueller AB’88 and Gary G. Mueller AB’88, MBA’94; Mindy Sick Munger AB’94, EdM’01, EdD’12 and Reuben Munger; Leigh Richart AB’04 and Greg Richart; Gretchen Weingarth Salyer AB’05; Susannah Thayer AB’95; Kate Tomford AB’99 and David Grossman AB’99; Tucker Family; Radcliffe 2003 NCAA Championship Team; Anonymous.
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