Just weeks after the 2012 London Olympics, the Owls announced the departure of coach Jason Read, a regular member of Team USA’s rowing team and 2004 Olympic gold medalist, who served at Temple for one season.
Former assistant coach Rebecca Smith Grzybowski is set to replace one of Temple’s most decorated student-athletes.
Read’s resignation was made official Aug. 20, a week before the start of the semester. Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw named Grzybowski his successor three days later.
Grzybowski’s hiring almost didn’t happen, as she had accepted another job at a different institution unofficially. But when asked to replace Read, she said she couldn’t say no. Now she’s scrambling to make sure the team is as prepared as possible when the season begins.
“[I’m] just trying to get a handle on everything that needs to get done,” Grzybowski said. “Everyone’s been very open. I keep waiting for someone to pinch me and wake me up.”
“Right now I feel absolutely ready,” she added. “I feel confident.”
Grzybowski joined Temple’s coaching staff last year under Read after serving two seasons as an assistant coach at Bucknell.
Nicknamed “J.R.,” Read is arguably the most accomplished rower in Temple’s history. From 1997-2000 he helped the Varsity 8 win four consecutive Murphy Cups, Big East Championships and Dad Vail Varsity 8 Championships. No rower had ever won four years in the Dad Vail Regatta.
He also competed with the U.S. National Team beginning in 1995 and, along with his Olympic appearance, bore the flag at the 2011 Pan-American Games to help his team qualify for the London Games.
Read left the team to pursue other professional opportunities. The move comes just nearly one year after he was hired to replace former coach Tim Hagan, who ran women’s rowing since 2004.
Grzybowski will become the third head coach for Temple’s upperclassmen.
“I feel like it’s been a seamless transition,” senior Joanna Sutor said.
“This is the most excited I’ve been for any season at Temple,” senior Paige O’Sullivan said. “This year is kind of more [about] excitement than transition.”
The team said it’s looking for some stability in the coaching staff coming off a season that could be defined as a rebound year for a program looking to make a name for itself once again.
Grzybowski helped the Owls earn a silver medal at the Memorial Murphy Cup last year and also oversaw the Lightweight 8 become the first boat on the team to be ranked by USRowing, where it reached No. 10 in March 2012.
“I think we bonded better [last year] than we have in previous years,” senior Brittany Adell said.
In her lone season in Philadelphia, Grzybowski said she has already fallen in love with the city and plans to stay at Temple “as long as they’ll have me.”
“She knows what to expect from us so there’s no sliding by,” Adell said.
“I’m very excited to see what new things [Grzybowski] has to bring,” Sutor said.
Sutor, Adell and O’Sullivan were members of the Varsity 8 boat last year and likely candidates to man the boat again this year as leaders of the team.
“It’s been awesome,” Grzybowski said. “Everyone is excited and enthusiastic.”
“I think you’re going to see big things from the team this year,” O’Sullivan said.
The Owls return to action on Oct. 13 in the Navy Day Regatta. Last season, Temple finished fourth in the Women’s Collegiate 4+ Final while the Championship Eight “A” Team took sixth in its race.
Jake Adams can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @jakeadams520.