Carie Graves – CRCA Hall of Fame Class of 2015

In July of 1998, The University of Texas continued its trend of bringing the foremost coaching experts in intercollegiate athletics to the Forty Acres when Carie Graves, a three-time U.S. Olympic rower and Olympic gold medalist in 1984, was hired as Texas women’s rowing head coach.

In just 15 seasons, Graves has built UT’s rowing program from the ground up. Texas has quickly established itself as a national contender, as it has finished four of the last nine seasons nationally ranked in the US Rowing/CRCA Coaches Poll.

Graves, who retired before the start of the 2015 season as the Longhorns’ rowing coach, led Texas to the inaugural Big 12 Rowing Championship in 2009 and repeated the feat in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The Longhorns also won the 2011 Conference USA Rowing Championship to sweep both conference crowns. Texas’ first official title came on the heels of winning seven straight Big 12 Invitational titles.

Graves led the Horns to a runner-up finish at the 2013 Big 12 Championship and a third-place showing at the 2013 Conference USA Championship.  Audrey Springer-Wilson earned a selection to the CRCA All-South Region Team.  Led by first-team selections Jessica Smith and Katie Trovato, Texas earned five spots on the All-Big 12 Conference teams.  The Texas rowers also excelled in the classroom and led the league with 25 selections to the Academic All-Big 12 Team.  Notably, Chelsea Burns and Rachel Donnelly received the Dr. Gerald Lage Award, the Big 12 Conference’s most prestigious academic honor.

Graves was selected by her peers as the 2012 Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year after leading the Longhorns to the 2012 Big 12 crown.  Laurel McCaig flourished under Graves’ tutelage and was selected as the league’s Co-Rower of the Year.  McCaig joined Felicia Izaguirre-Werneron the CRCA All-South Region Team.

During 2010-11 the Longhorns posted their best season since 2004 as Graves earned CRCA All-South Region Coach of the Year and Conference USA Coach of the Year lauds. In the fall, Texas recorded three top-five finishes at the Head of the Oklahoma and won five races at the Head of the Colorado. During the spring season the Horns tallied 19 victories at the 2011 Longhorn Invitational and went on to knock off Kansas in a head-to-head battle before claiming wins over UCLA and Clemson at the Virginia Invitational. Texas swept all of its races at the Big 12 Championship and repeated the feat at the Conference USA Championship to complete the title sweep.

Graves coached Jennifer VanderMaarel to Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) All-America Second Team honors in 2011 to mark the third all-america honor in program history. She guided VanderMaarel to CRCCA All-South Region First Team accolades in 2009, 2010 and 2011, while Laurel McCaig and Jacqueline Gorcyca landed region honors in 2011. She has coached a student-athlete to CRCA honors in nine of the last 11 years.

In 2009-10, the Longhorns notched two wins at the Boot of the Oklahoma and followed with three victories at the Head of the Colorado. Texas then kicked off the spring with a 1-2-3 finish at the Fighting Nutria and a sweep of its four races at the Heart of Texas. The Horns registered 21 victories in the four-session Longhorn Invitational and then five wins in its dual regatta with Kansas. UT won the Big 12 title by a hefty 11-point margin and went on to finish in 12th place overall and fifth place in the south region at the South/Central Regional.

In 2008-2009, Texas posted six victories at the Head of the Colorado, a 1-2 finish at the Fighting Nutria, five wins at the Heart of Texas regatta, four wins over Kansas and a pair of 1V8 victories over Duke and Central Florida at the Longhorn Invitational. The Horns posted a 13th-place overall finish and placed sixth in the south region at the 2009 South/Central Regional.

In addition to winning the Big 12 Invitational title in 2007-08, the Longhorns first varsity eight also posted a clean sweep at the Longhorn Invitational, including victories over No. 19 Wisconsin and Central Florida. Texas added two more victories over SMU?and Kansas, stringing together six straight dual-race victories.

Under her direction, the UT varsity eight boat made NCAA?Championship showings in 2003 and 2004. In 2006-2007, Graves guided Texas Rowing to a 14th-place finish in the overall standings and a seventh-place finish in the South Region at the South/Central?Regional. Texas added its sixth Big 12 Invitational title in 2007 and shined at the 2007 Longhorn Invitational by posting 18 wins in 24 races at the three-day event.

Graves’ squad was 15th overall and seventh among all South Region teams at the 2006 NCAA South/Central Regional event. The Longhorns’ first varsity boat claimed first-place in the B finals, giving UT its lone victory at the NCAA’s. Earlier in the racing season, Texas kept its string of consecutive Big 12 Invitational wins alive, earning its fifth straight victory.

In 2003-04, Graves led Texas to its second consecutive appearance at the NCAA Championships. UT’s first varsity eight boat qualified after a sixth-place finish in the Varsity 8+ Grand Finals at the South/Central Regional Sprints. For the second time in as many years, the Longhorns earned their highest-ever final ranking by the USRowing/ CRCA Varsity Eights Coaches poll, finishing the season ranked No. 13. Ruth Stiver and Julie Keedy closed their collegiate careers earning 2004 CRCA All-America honors, becoming the first Longhorns in history to receive such recognition from the CRCA. Stiver earned first-team accolades, while Keedy received second-team laurels.

In 2002-03, Graves led Texas to the NCAA Championships for the first time in program history. The Longhorns collected their third-straight All-Points Trophy by winning the unofficial Big 12 Conference Invitational on the Kansas River in Lawrence. Texas boats posted an impressive 39 first-place finishes during the 2002-03 campaign, the second most in school history. The Longhorns celebrated their storybook season with a trip to Britain to compete in the Henley Women’s Regatta for the first time in the program’s history.

During the 2001-02 season, Graves guided the Longhorns to a record 43 first-place finishes, a mark that still stands as the team’s single-season best victory total. She guided UT to its second-straight All-Points Trophy as the Horns won the Big 12 Invitational on its home course in Austin. Texas’ first varsity eight squad finished its campaign ranked No. 17 in the USRowing/CRCA Poll, as the Longhorns narrowly missed their first trip to the NCAA Championships.

Graves led the Longhorns to their first ever Top 20 ranking during the 2000-01 season, when they opened their spring campaign ranked No. 18 by US Rowing/CRCA. Texas finished the year with 32 first-place finishes and also captured its first Big 12 title. The team went on to finish the year ranked No. 20 in the final coaches poll.

Recognized nationally as one of the foremost rowing coaches and clinicians in the nation, Graves spent 10 years as head coach of women’s rowing at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., (1988-98) before arriving in Austin. Before coaching at Northeastern, Graves was head women’s crew (rowing) coach at Harvard/Radcliffe from 1977-83.

While at Northeastern, Graves developed one of the top rowing programs in the nation, orchestrating NU’s move from club status to varsity status in 1990. The Northeastern varsity eight was one of the top 16 crews to be invited to the first-ever NCAA Championships in 1997, where NU placed 12th. In 1998, Graves led her varsity eight to its second consecutive NCAA Championship appearance and a fourth-place finish. For her outstanding coaching efforts at Northeastern, Graves was recognized as 1997-98 Coach of the Year by the Eastern Association of Women’s Rowing Colleges (EAWRC), an organization representing the collegiate rowing programs in the East Coast and Northeast sector of the country.

Prior to NCAA championship competition, Graves’ NU squads consistently finished among the top eight varsity crews at the Eastern Sprints, which was then recognized as the strongest rowing league championships in the country.

Graves’ extensive rowing experience includes 11 years as an international competitor and selections to three U.S. Olympic rowing teams (in 1976, the boycotted 1980 year, and 1984). During her 11-year competitive rowing tenure, Graves rowed on five U.S. National Teams (1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1983) and on the three Olympic teams, competing in the women’s eight event. Her gold medal came at the 1984 Olympics. She also captured a bronze medal in that event during the 1976 Olympic Games. The U.S. Olympic Committee honored her as Rowing’s Female Athlete of the Year in both 1981 and 1984.

Graves is a two-time inductee into the National Rowing Foundation Hall of Fame. In 1984, she was selected to the Hall as a member of the 1984 Olympic gold medalist crew. Graves was honored by the Hall of Fame in 1991, when she was inducted as a member of the 1980 Olympic Team.

In August of 1998, Graves was a rowing participant at the 1998 Nike World Masters Games in Portland Ore., where 25,000 athletes in 25 sports from 71 different countries competed. She helped generate national publicity for her sport as she competed with three of her sisters at the international meet. The Graves siblings, their training regimen and their Nike Master Games racing were featured on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America” television show and in USA Today.

Graves has also received recognition from her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, when she was listed No. 16 on its “Top 100 Athletes of the Century” list. Graves also was one of 11 selected as the “Century’s Most Notable People” in American Rowing by the 2000-01 American Rower’s Almanac.

Graves attended the University of Wisconsin (Madison) as an undergraduate, studying English from 1973-76. She then completed her master’s degree at Harvard University in 1985, receiving a Master’s of Education in administration, planning and social policy. Graves was the first inductee into UW’s Women’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984.