Olivia Coffey '11

Olivia Coffey '11
Harvard alum Olivia Coffey '11 is an alternate on the USA women's heavyweight team, competing in the quadruple sculls.

Olivia Coffey ’11

Women's Heavyweight Rowing: Quadruple Sculls, USA

Claiming a seat on the varsity eight boat her freshman year at Harvard, Coffey took the reigns of her athletic career and never looked back. She took the same approach with her effort to represent the United States in the 2016 Olympics, taking a place as an alternate on America’s heavyweight rowing team this summer.

The Elmira, N.Y. native continued to add to her list of rowing accomplishments with the qualification, extending her rowing career five year after she left the Crimson team. Throughout her time in Cambridge, Coffey was a staple in the heavyweight varsity eight, leading the team to a silver medal at the EAWRC Sprints her sophomore year as well as aiding the team in its petite final victory her junior year.


In between her accomplishments on the collegiate circuit, Coffey found success on the world level when she competed for Team USA in the 2009 World Rowing Under 23 Championships where she won silver in the heavyweight eight. The next year the team won gold at the same race, awarding Coffey another medal. The 2011 rendition of the race brought the USA heavyweight eight a bronze medal.

Her competition both for the Crimson and team USA culminated in her senior year with Radcliffe, when she was voted co-captain, giving her the opportunity to stroke with the varsity eight all season. That year Harvard won the third-level final at the NCAA Championships with a time of 6:34.45 and brought a fifth-place finish from the EAWRC Sprints back to Cambridge.

Those achievements also garnered Coffey national attention, being named a first-team All-American as well as to the All-New England team her senior year.

Since graduating with an economics concentration, Coffey continued rowing, not being able to give up the sport she had been competing in since her 2005 debut at the Phillips Andover Academy.

In 2013 Coffey once again had the opportunity to compete for the United States on the international stage, making the heavyweight four boat and bringing home gold in the 2013 World Rowing Championships. Transitioning to the quadruple sculls in 2014, she once again medalled with Team USA, taking the bronze. 2015 added three gold medals to Coffey’s arsenal, winning the quadruple sculls at the World Rowing Championships as well gold in both the heavyweight eight and four boats at the 2015 World Rowing Cup.

To qualify for the alternate role at the Rio games, Coffey finished sixth in the quadruple sculls competition at the 2016 World Rowing Cup.

–Staff writer Ariel Smolik-Valles can be reached at


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