Retiring coach honored ahead of Yale-Harvard Regatta
New London ― Mayor Michael Passero presented retiring Yale men’s crew coach Stephen Gladstone with a proclamation Thursday honoring his 57-year career.
The proclamation noted Gladstone’s reputation as a coaching legend and global ambassador for the sport of rowing who exhibited a tradition of excellence shown in his 14 national collegiate championships, three while at Yale.
The annual pre-race luncheon occurred at the Coast Guard Academy’s Merle J. Smith Consolidated Club (formerly the officer’s club) two days before the Yale-Harvard Regatta and was hosted by the New London Rotary Club.
“This is the race,” Gladstone said to a crowd of about 150 people. “This is what defines a season. ... If you’re successful here, you can leave and feel very good about it.”
Yale-Harvard races on the Thames River, all upstream this year, start at 2:15 p.m. Saturday, with the spotlight four-mile race for the top varsity rowers pushing off at 4 p.m.
“The whole point is students compete,” said Charles Butt, Harvard’s crew coach. “It’s education through athletics because you have to keep fighting.”
Genevra Stone, the first female keynote speaker at this event and silver medalist in the single sculls at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, noted that the spotlight competition on the Thames is three times longer than a typical crew race. It’s a distance she’d never had to traverse, one that calls on humans to test the edges of their endurance.
“That mental challenge is what thrills me about this race,” she said.
“Four miles highlights what makes rowing special,” she added, “especially the grit. ... It’s the love of the sport, the passion for excellence and the will to win.”
Stone later was one of three guests who helped draw the race lanes for Yale and Harvard out of the silver Sexton Cup that goes to the winner. The race is the oldest collegiate competition in America, dating to 1852.
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