Olympic medalist to coach heavyweight crew

After years as an assistant coach, an Olympic medalist and a U.S. assistant coach, John Pescatore finally has a heavyweight crew team all to himself.

A committee composed of Athletics Director Tom Beckett, Yale crew association President Jim Millar ’81, and other administrators and alumni selected Pescatore from a field of over 20 candidates Aug. 27. Pescatore replaces former head coach Dave Vogel, who retired at the end of July after 20 years as the men’s heavyweight head coach.

Pescatore, who earned a silver medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul for heavyweight crew and received U.S. Rowing Coach of the Year honors in 2000, has never been the head coach of a NCAA Division I program. But his experience as an assistant coach at the University of Pennsylvania for the last 2 years and his success at the professional level made him the top candidate to replace Vogel.

“We’re thrilled to have John as our head coach,” Beckett said. “And from what we’ve heard on all fronts so far, his enthusiasm has been matched by the people who have worked with him.”

In replacing Vogel, Pescatore inherits the oldest rowing program in the nation and a heavyweight crew team that won its first-ever national championship under Vogel. Despite the history of accomplishment associated with the heavyweight crew team, Pescatore believes that the Bulldogs can achieve more.

“It’s not about us trying to win this game or that game,” Pescatore said. “It’s more about what kind of people we want to be. I just want a team where everyone is a racer and fighter, and we’ll see how that serves us.”

Pescatore’s enthusiasm at practice has already earned him the respect of his newest heavyweight squad.

“Everyone’s really excited,” Andrew Brennan ’04 said. “He knows what he’s doing, and we can really trust him and believe that what he wants us to do will help us improve.”

Although Pescatore’s position as head coach might be new to him, his co-workers are not so unfamiliar. In 1990, Pescatore was an assistant coach for the Stanford University crew team, working alongside current women’s crew team head coach Will Porter. Beckett was also working as an administrator in the Stanford Athletics Department at the same time.

Although Beckett never personally knew Pescatore, Porter and Pescatore formed a close friendship that continues today.

“It definitely made it easier to adjust,” Pescatore said of his relationship with Porter.

Freshman heavyweight head coach Mike Irwin and former captain Nate Kirk ’02 will assist Pescatore in his coaching duties over the next 10 days before the first regatta Oct. 12, 2002, at the Head of the Housatonic.

“We’re delighted to have [Pescatore],” Assistant Athletics Director Barbara Chesler said. “We have high expectations, and I know he will fulfill them.”

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