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Crafter & Leader

Implementing a process that makes a boat sing and young men grow up. Inside the mind of Yale’s rowing coach Steve Gladstone.
PHOTOS BETSY CAROTHERS + NAOMI BAKER

Many of Steve Gladstone’s interviews read the same. And as he sits across from me leaning back in his chair, heels crossed on his desk, hands folded behind his head, silver belt buckle engraved with his initials, it is very obvious this is a position he knows well. Cast from a similar mould as his radio journalist father, he is a man comfortable in his control to tell his own story. Only once in our conversation did he ask for a comment to be withheld from the article.

Gladstone quipped, “Memories aren’t really what happened, they are memories of what happened.” This practiced interpretation of his coaching life is not trite or any less meaningful for its repetitive nature, but it would bore my editor. If you are looking for him recounting the glory of Cal or Brown, or Cal again, I suggest you find those other articles. They accurately detail his winning record faithfully and present to you a champion coach.

I am less interested in his accomplishments, than the character of this coach. He is a competitive man, but what is it about his breed of competitiveness that makes him an anomaly among collegiate rowing, separating him from coaches like Harry Parker who spend decades building and sustaining one program, creating a legacy? What compels, or forces, a coach of this calibre to leave successful programs when they reach dominance? Is it harder to build up programs or to stay and nurture then through the peaks and troughs? As indelibly as Parker’s name will be linked with Harvard rowing, the legacy of Steve Gladstone is more tightly tied to the success he has found through a process.

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About Row360

Welcome to Row360, the world’s only global, independent rowing magazine. Row360 brings you features from around the world, profiling the best athletes, coaches, and others from the whole rowing community – Olympic, Paralympic, college, club, ocean, and more.