Nat Case – CRCA Hall of Fame Class of 2009
Nat Case took over an infant Yale Women’s rowing program in the fall of 1973 and immediately propelled the program to explosive growth, resulting in its ascendancy to a perennial national power. The Bulldogs posted an impressive 122-29 record in Nat’s 19 years of coaching at Yale.
Nat’s Yale crews won five national championships, in addition to his varsity and second varsity crews combining to claim eight Eastern Sprints titles from 1974 – 1993, the most prolific of any other program during that era. The Program as a whole took home the Willing Trophy for overall supremacy at Eastern Sprints on three occasions.
A tough task master who maintained high expectations, offered kudos sparingly, and displayed an abiding distaste for subpar effort, Nat motivated the first generation of post Title IX athletes to prove and stretch themselves in a sport that had been dominated by American men for nearly one hundred years. He mutely encouraged his athletes to develop feisty, never-say-die, “I’ll show you” attitudes and prodigious work ethics, while keeping them focused on attacking rigorous daily practices, seeking constant improvement, and taking nothing for granted. He always maintained the utmost respect for competitors, in spite of his deep dislike of losing.
Numerous athletes who competed on Nat’s teams earned positions, followed by medals, on national and Olympic squads, including a pair of rowers on the first medal winning US national team in 1975 who helped power the U.S women’s eight to a silver in Nottingham, England.
It was also his Yale athletes who led the hand to hand combat for equal access to sports; in 1976 with a passionate and revealing demonstration, they demanded equal opportunity from the university and inspired the now famous documentary on Title IX called A Hero for Daisy. The spirit of indominable toughness that has trademarked the Yale women’s crew from its earliest years offers a testimony to Nat’s tenure, and endures as the backbone of the program to this day.
Nat coached the 1980 Women’s Olympic 4+ and the US women’s lightweight crew in 1982.
Throughout his tenure as the Yale women’s head coach, Nat also served as the Chair of the EAWRC coaches group, providing a calm, reasonable and wise voice as he supported the efforts to expand and improve the level of collegiate women’s rowing in the US, including the advent of the National Women’s Rowing Championships, a precursor to the NCAA Championships.
The CRCA is proud to induct Nat Case into its Coaches Hall of Fame.