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For the first time in the long and glorious history of Radcliffe crew, a woman will be coaching at Weld Boathouse. As the 1977-78 campaign begins to unfold, Carrie Graves is the newest face along the Charles, and she faces a big test as the rookie coach of the Radcliffe heavies. But Graves's background in rowing gives her a stable foundation from which to work. She spent three years at the University of Wisconsin as the stroke and captain of the women's team, a team that has kept Radcliffe company in the national top five rankings for the past few years.
In 1975, Graves stroked the U.S. women's eight to a silver medal in the World Games; in '76, she rowed sixth seat for the U.S. women's Olympic eight, the boat that won a bronze medal.
So Graves is confident that she has the knowledge and reputation to earn the respect of her athletes; her major concern is continuing the successful tradition of Radcliffe crew.
"There's a lot of pressure to do well, especially since I am the first woman coach, and Radcliffe has always done well with men coaches," she said.
In past years, there has been speculation about whether Radcliffe would benefit from having a woman coach. Peter Raymond, Graves's predecessor as the heavyweight skipper, said last spring he thought Radcliffe needed a woman coach because he found it difficult to "deal with some of the problems women athletes experience. Only another woman would understand them," he explained.
But Graves initially had her doubts about whether Radcliffe would benefit from a woman coach.
"At first, I thought it might be a negative experience to be coached by a woman, since I had always been coached successfully by a man," she said.
"But now, I think a woman can coach women successfully," Graves added. "I have done it."
Last year, Graves helped coach the Boston University novice women. She also coached the freshman men, a job that helped both her experience and confidence as a coach.
"The men drove themselves especially hard, because I was a woman telling them what to do. Occasionally I'd say they looked pretty out there, and then they'd really go berserk," she said.
But the days of part-time coaching are over for Graves. She now has a full-time program and a group of serious women under her direction.
"There's more money here, more equipment and more time for the coach to spend with the team," she said. "The women are also different from those I knew at Wisconsin--they have a higher quality of competitiveness here."
"The women at Radcliffe are naturally competitive," she said, adding, "They have to be in order to get into the school, and it's easier to teach a competitive person, even a non-athlete, because the motivation is there. You can always build some muscle development."
In taking over Radcliffe's program, Graves said she is trying to make each woman's rowing career a positive experience.
"I want the women to work hard, find their own limits, and enjoy what they are doing," she said. But, she added, the enjoyment may have a lot to do with the won-lost record.
However, that aspect should not be a problem for Carrie Graves and Radcliffe. When asked if she felt her team would do well, she just smiled and confidently replied, "You bet!"
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