Get to know Coach Holly

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It was September 1998 and we had just finished some brutal water workout like rowing to CRI and down to the Museum and back, on the Charles River. I was tired, soaking wet and chilly and all I wanted to do was get into the warm shower, when Liz O’Leary the Head Coach of the Radcliffe Varsity Heavyweight Team called me over. I walked over with my tail between my legs assuming I had done something wrong- blade not fast enough to the water, not sitting up enough at the catch, not long enough in the water… Liz looked me right in the eye and said: “I want you to make the Varsity 8.” And then she turned around and left. I stood there and whispered “Excuse me?”

I was 5’6 and 145lbs … and Liz O’Leary, the Head Coach of Harvard/Radcliffe wants ME to make the Varsity 8? The fact that I was even at Harvard University and wearing a Radcliffe jersey was a miracle in my opinion…the Varsity Heavyweight 8? You must be mistaken! That will never happen… 

But it did and I made it happen.

I asked myself everyday “What can I do today so that I will achieve my goals?”

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I have been rowing for a long time. I started rowing as a freshman in high school on a fledgling program at the Bolles School in Jacksonville. I only rowed in the spring season because I also played soccer.  You can imagine how many friends I had on that team when I bumped one of their friends out of their boat. I fell in love with the sport quickly and knew that I wanted to row at a more advanced program. So I left my home, parents and friends to attend St. Andrew’s School, a small boarding school in Middletown Delaware with an excellent rowing team.  

As a new junior, I made the Varsity 8 and we were one of the fastest junior crews in the country. A bit of a pipsqueak, I taught myself to row both sides so that I had a greater chance of making a top boat and my senior year wound up rowing the 7 seat in the Varsity 8 that won silver at Stotesbury and went on to win the Women's Henley Regatta in England for the first (and last) time in St. Andrew’s history. It was a highlight of my career – I had already been admitted to Harvard and was planning on donning the black and white under Head Coach Liz O’Leary. I was flying high – life was great.

Only… I didn’t prepare or even know how to prepare for the transition between St. Andrew’s and Harvard and it took me all four years to do it.

I have designed my programs to help you with college selection, preparation and ultimately, success.