For Peter Raymond, coach of Radcliffe heavyweight crew, Spring 1977 marks the last stretch of his reign on the Charles River. After this season, Raymond will leave his coaching position to finish college and concentrate on his writing career.
But the next two months of racing promise to be an exciting swan song for Raymond: his Radcliffe heavyweights are attacking the season with a stong mixture of speed, spirit, and aggressiveness, a combination that should lead to victory.
"I'm really excited about the season," Raymond said, but he added that he would make no predictions about the upcoming schedule for fear of "jinxing" his team.
The 'Cliffe oarswomen are wasting no time in testing their ability. This morning they are in Princeton stroking against the Tigers, a team Raymond said is "one of the best we will face this year."
In 1975, the Radcliffe heavies took first place in The Sprints, the end of the year championship race, under the guidance of coach John Baker. Last year, with Raymond leading the women, Radcliffe stroked to a third place finish in The Sprints.
This season, Raymond said his team is "far stonger than it was last year," in terms of both speed and endurance. Five women with varsity experience are returning this year to row in the varsity boat, led by senior captain Robin Lothrop.
The only freshman to make the varsity heavies, Martha Newman, will head the boat, stroking from the number one seat. Newman, who rowed last year with Exeter, is "coming along extremely well," Raymond said.
Directing the varsity eight will be sophomore cox Lizellen LaFollette. Having coxed the number three heavyweight boat last year, LaFollette returns with some experience; Raymond said she has a big job on her hands, but she has "gone after it with a great attitude." Raymond added that her spirit and determination have helped her take command of the number one boat.
Behind the speedy varsity, Radcliffe has a strong junior varsity eight and a novice boat that Raymond described as "peppy and fiery." Like the varsity boat, the other Radcliffe eights are strong, speedy, and determined to win.
The biggest task that Radcliffe now faces is getting its boats coordinated. The women have been working together in their boats for only the past week. The togetherness that comes only with continued practice as a unified boat will be crucial to the Crimson's success.
"Up until the spring break," Raymond said, "I was really not sure about the way things were developing." He added that in the last two weeks, the boats have really taken shape and pulled their loose ends together.
The spring season, which runs only through late May, is a cramped program; but Raymond is confident that his boats can pull things together, and he looks for good results. His optimism is certainly justifiable.
The women are talented and determined to win: they have the necessary material, and the prospects look bright for another championship season at Weld Boathouse.