With two new assistant coaches and increased cooperation from the Department of Athletics, the Radcliffe Crew should be bringing home even more gold to line the walls of "the other boathouse" this year.
Already, determined oarswomen are circling the Charles's shores, spinning the ergometer, and rowing every afternoon, anxious to clinch the intercollegiate woman's rowing title for the third straight year.
Recently, Radcliffe has been heralded for setting the standard for women's rowing in the United States. Both its eight and four were first in their events at the Women's Eastern Sprints last spring. The eight then went on to finish second at the Women's Nationals in Oakland, Calif., losing only to Vesper Boat Club.
The Vesper eight was a composite crew, gleaned from the boats the 'Cliffe left in their wake at the Sprints.
This year's Radcliffe crew promises to be at least as strong as last's. Seven veteran oarswomen and both coxswains--none of whom are seniors this year--are returning. In addition, increased access to facilities has already attracted many new potential oarswomen.
Last year, the squad was forced to practice in the early morning so that they could use Harvard's tanks at Newell Boathouse. This year 6 and 7 a.m. workouts will not be necessary as the Athletic Department has arranged for Radcliffe to use Harvard's facilities during the afternoon.
The two new coaches bring much experience to the squad. Aiding head coach John Baker '72 will be Bill Backman, a Harvard police officer who was captain of Northeastern's undefeated 1972 crew. Peter Huntsman '74 promises to improve the Radcliffe lightweight prospects. Huntsman, a member of last year's intercollegiate champion Harvard lightweights, earned a bronze medal in the U.S. lightweight straight four at the World Championships in Switzerland last summer.
"We are happy with the cooperation of the athletics department," co-captain Nancy Hadley said. "We feel we've got a lot more room to move in terms of time and people, so we can be a lot more creative. We have the raw material and a lot of enthusiasm."
How Fun Rowing Can Be
Coach Baker said that he is most interested in adding depth to the squad by showing potential oarswomen how much fun rowing can be. As a result, the only fall competition, the Head of the Charles Regatta on October 27th, will not be taken very seriously.
"We'll enter some small boats: two fours and maybe a couple of pairs," Baker explained. "But this fall, we're gearing out program towards the freshmen. We're more interested in making this a participation sport than in killing everyone."
Baker is pleased with the freshmen turnout. "On the whole, this year's freshmen seem to be a lot more sports-minded," he said.
Still, Baker's goals are modest. "We hope to make the finals at the Sprints for the third year in a row," he said. "But we'll map out our tentative strategy at our organizational meeting on Sunday night."
At Least As Strong
But, while Baker's goals have always been understated, the achievements of his past crews have been consistently higher. In 1973, the Radcliffe eight won at the Women's Nationals, a victory which sent them to the world championships in Moscow that summer.
At the time the crew's practicing facilities were considerably inferior to what they are now and in between much energy was devoted to fund raising rather than rowing. Now, with an expanded coaching staff and more acceptable workout conditions, the only weight an oarswoman has to pull is on the end of her oar.