As a rower, a coach and a “pioneer,” Chris Wilson has seen every side of rowing. Wilson, recently named interim Staley Women’s Rowing coach at Cornell, brings over 25 years of rowing experience to the women’s crews.
“We were all extremely excited to have someone so qualified coaching our team,” said senior rower Katie Pulito. “This is a great opportunity, and she has a lot to offer.”
Wilson’s career in rowing began during her time as rower on Yale’s crew. She served as team captain in her junior and senior years.
After graduation, Wilson served as an assistant women’s rowing coach at Choate Rosemary Hall for three years before returning to her alma mater to coach in 1985.
At Yale, Wilson took the position of the assistant women’s rowing coach and the freshman heavyweight men’s rowing coach during her eight years of coaching at the university.
During this time, Wilson was named the 1987 Eastern Women’s Rowing Coach of the Year and became the first woman to coach men in a U.S. collegiate program. She led her freshman heavyweight crew to a victory in the Eastern Sprint Championships in 1991.
After two years of coaching varsity crew at Phillips Exeter Academy, Wilson served as Cornell’s freshman rowing coach before returning to Yale. In 1999, Wilson returned to Cornell as an interim associate athletic director and assistant to the director of athletics for special projects.
In the last three seasons, Wilson has served as an assistant coach for the United States Rowing Association. In helping with technical development and training of the national rowing team, Wilson traveled with the team to the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. “[Wilson] brings a lot of experience from [coaching] the U.S. national women’s team,” Pulito said. “She has a completely different style and is trying to help us have a more serious and intense tone.”
In 2002, the Power Ten Association of New York recognized Wilson as a “Pioneer in the Sport of Rowing.” Along with serving as coach on various collegiate teams, Wilson has also coached at U.S. men’s and women’s Pre-Elite Rowing camps.
Wilson’s dedication to rowing also goes beyond racing. From 1997-99, Wilson, serving as Yale’s head rowing coach, helped to raise over $7.5 million for the construction of Yale’s Gilder Boathouse. Also at Yale, Wilson and the women’s crews organized a rowing clinic for New Haven’s youth.
During the fall season, the women’s crew had mixed results in their first three competitions. The next challenge facing the women’s crews is this weekend’s Princeton Chase — a tough race which will test the Red’s mettle against Princeton in New Jersey.
Archived article by Kristina Kovach
Sun Staff Writer