Sooner or later the sleigh ride had to end.
Steve Gladstone, the reigning czar of eastern hightweight rowing for the last five years, has abdicated his throne to take over the head coaching position at once-mighty Berkeley on the West Coast
Gladstone will be replaced by John Higginson a former Crimson heavyweight oarsman who has been coaching and teaching at Noble-Greenough for the last six years. Higginson has already moved in and assumed his coaching duties at Newell Boat House and only awaits approval of his contract by the Corporation before his appointment can become official.
Gladstone's departure took the Harvard community by surprise. He had everything a coach could want success a strong and popular program, and the security of Harvard's well-entrenched rowing tradition.
At Berkeley he faces the monumental task of rebuilding a program that has fallen in the last ten years from a position of power in West Coast and national rowing to a humiliating ninth place finish at the West Coast Sprints last spring.
Gladstone had everything at Harvard Berkeley offers nothing beyond a program that has just his an all-time low ebb.
"It was an extremely difficult decision to make." Gladstone said yesterday in a telephone interview from Berkeley. "The five years I spent at Harvard and the personal relations that I had there were a beautiful, beautiful thing. The people I coached and coached with were great. They understood my weaknesses and my strengths, and I'd be wrong not to say that it was a real comfort to be in a community where rowing is as important as it is at Harvard.
"But when they contacted me about the job I just couldn't turn down the opportunity," Gladstone said. The administration here (at Berkeley) is intent on bringing rowing back to the level of success that Berkeley enjoyed as recently as 1964 when their heavyweights won the Intercollegiate Rowing Championships. It's a challenge to help a place that had a strong rowing tradition re-ignite it."
Gladstone said that Berkeley first contacted him in January and that he had been mulling it over" ever since then However it was not until April that he began seriously the Berkeley job The final decision to go West came last summer.
At Berkeley Gladstone inherits a program rich in tradition. Berkeley won Olympic gold in the 1948 Games and more recently took IRA titles in 1960, 1961 and 1964--but poor in talent and interest Last year Berkeley had only one and a half boats in the heavyweight division and nothing at all for light-sights.
However Berkeley does have a lot of manpower to offer. The university has over 10,000 male students a good facilities Despite the handicaps, Gladstone has high hopes for what he can for with the Berkeley program.
"I want to bring a crew back to the IRA's" be said yesterday. "Naturally. I'd like eventually to come back East for a Cal Harvard dual race sometime."
The man who inherits Gladstone's position at Newell is no stranger to Harvard rowing. Higginson rowed three years as a varsity heavyweight and was the Crimson captain in 1962. In his six years at Noble Greenough Higginson coached teams took three titles in the New England Championships for prep schools.
Higginson acknowledges that he has a tough act to follow, but he is not overawed by the success that Gladstone amassed, nor is he concerned with the inevitable comparisons that will be made between him and his predecessor.
"I don't care about my reputation." Higginson said yesterday. "What I care about is what my crews do. This program is not going to fall apart because Steve Gladstone has left There is too much talent here for that. I can't think of any reason why lightweight rowing shouldn't enjoy the same success that the program has had in the past."
For the 33-year old Higginson, this is his first crack at full-time coaching. While he coached six years at Noble-Greenough, he was primarily a teacher there.
"I lose my amateur status in a couple days." Higginson said yesterday, "and I can't imagine a coaching job that I'd rather have right now."