A week before the most prestigious race of the fall season, the Radcliffe women’s lightweight crew team has officially hired a new coach—former Trinity College head coach Elizabeth O. Berl.
The spot opened up after the previous Radcliffe lightweight head coach Michiel Bartman left the position to become the head coach of the Harvard male lightweights.
Berl, who led Trinity to its first-ever NCAA Division III championship regatta, plans to begin a week after the Head of the Charles, Oct. 19 and 20. The new Harvard coach said joining the team midseason will be difficult, but that she is enthusiastic to begin in two weeks.
“It’s a huge honor,” Berl said. “It’ll be a challenge, but I usually rise to the occasion. I like challenges and to push myself in these situations.”
Berl had previously expressed interest in the position of Radcliffe lightweight head coach to Radcliffe heavyweight coach Liz O’Leary. When the position was vacated, Berl said that O’Leary immediately contacted her. Within a day, Berl was on the phone with Patricia Henry, Harvard’s senior associate athletic director.
“She’s wonderful, and she will be a dynamic and strong leader for the lightweight program,” O’Leary said. “I think it will be pretty fun, and there will be a lot of energy. Hopefully we can build two really stout teams this year.”
O’Leary said she anticipated little difficulty for the lightweights as they transition between coaches. Although new hires typically have the bulk of the summer to acclimate to Cambridge, Leary said that, with the most crucial races to come in the spring, Berl will have ample time to adjust.
“She will have time to get to know the team and their strengths and weaknesses. It is [only] October, and we do have a full year ahead of us,” O’Leary said.
A former member of the U.S. Junior National team, Berl started her own rowing clinic out of her garage in Davidson, N.C. after leaving her job at Trinity. In her clinic, Berl trained students and adults of all levels.
Berl said that she is already in contact with the Radcliffe lightweight rowers and assistant coach Lauren Fisher and that she will remain in communication until her arrival on campus on Oct. 28.
“The team has gone through a lot. They have gotten great coaching this fall, but I think they are ready to have a coach full time,” Berl said. “I am really looking forward to getting to know them as individuals, and I am very excited to work with these great young women.”
—Staff writer David P. Freed can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @CrimsonDPFreed.
—Staff writer Michael D. Ledecky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MDLedecky.
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