Seattle University athletic director Bill Hogan announces the hiring of Portia McGee as head coach of the Seattle U women's rowing program. McGee brings vast local, national, and international experience to the position.
"I am excited to join Seattle University and take its women's rowing team to the Division I varsity level," said McGee. "Making this transition will be a challenge with great rewards for Seattle University, its supporters, and its student-athletes. With the strong local collegiate rowing scene and the commitment of the Seattle University athletic department, this team is in a great position to reach new heights and compete on the varsity level. I am honored by Seattle University for entrusting me with the leadership of this team and I look forward to beginning my work with the athletes and starting the upcoming season."
McGee was a member of the 2008 USA Olympic Team, was named USRowing Female Athlete of the Year in 2007, and was a World Champion in the Women's Four the same year. She is also a seven-time member of the USA National Rowing Team.
During her collegiate rowing career at Brown University, she was a two-time gold medalist and a two-time silver medalist at the NCAA National Championships. She was also First-Team All-American as well as an Academic All-American in 2001. Though her collegiate competition took place on the east coast, McGee is a Seattle native and learned to row at Seattle's Mount Baker Rowing Club.
Professionally, she served as Assistant Coach for the women's crew program at Brown University from 2004-06, during which the team competed at the 2005 and 2006 NCAA National Championship Regattas. Prior to this position, she also worked in Alumni Relations and Development at the Brown University Sports Foundation and as the Assistant to Manager of Operations at the Princeton National Rowing Association in the early 2000s.
Most recently, she has served as the Assistant Director of Development and Alumnae/i Relations at The Bush School in Seattle. While there, she has worked to build donor relationships, developed new fundraising programs, and managed event logistics and communications related to the alumni office.
"Portia is a terrific person to start our women's rowing program," said Hogan. "Her Olympic experience in 2008 and long, highly successful rowing career will benefit our student-athletes. The Northwest has many talented rowers and we look forward to Portia building a strong program."
Seattle U has previously offered men's and women's crew club programs, but women's crew was elevated to a varsity sport in April 2012 as part of the athletic department's NCAA certification process. The rich tradition of rowing in the Pacific Northwest, longstanding student interest, the success of the women's club team, alumni support, and several other factors led to this decision.
The Redhawks join the University of Washington, Washington State University, Oregon State University, Gonzaga University, and the University of Portland as the sixth women's Division I rowing program in Washington and Oregon. The women's rowing program will begin DI intercollegiate competition in fall 2012 as an independent, while actively searching for conference affiliation.
What They Say About Portia McGee
Bob Ernst, Director of Rowing/Women's Head Coach, University of Washington: "I think Seattle University made an excellent choice for the job. [Portia is] a world-class athlete, she's from the Seattle area, and she has a lot of great job skills, other than just being an outstanding coach. Certainly, the University of Washington welcomes another Division I school in the local rowing community and I'm sure Portia will be really good to work with. She's got a great background - she's an Olympian, she rowed on National Championship crews at Brown, and her husband is in the coaching game. Portia brings a wealth of resources to Seattle U and I think [her hire] was a wise choice."
Anna Cummins, 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist, USA W8+: "The future looks bright for Seattle University's varsity women's crew with Portia McGee at the helm. Having raced with her at the 2008 Olympics, I can guarantee Portia will bring her passion, focus, expertise, and drive to the program. She is one to dream big and to achieve what she envisions and she is the perfect head coach for the Redhawk crew.
Erin Cafaro, 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist, USA W8+: "There are few rowers who have the ability to come onto a team and improve each individual on that team. This defines not only true leadership, but an understanding of a sport that not many have. Portia has embodied this [throughout] her entire rowing career, which makes her the athlete and coach she is. I could think of no better person to build a winning rowing program at Seattle University."
Mary Whipple, 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist, 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist, USA W8+: "I have had the pleasure of racing Portia at the Division I level and knew that you needed to bring nothing but your best race to keep up with her. She made every boat she was in capable of winning and a real threat. When we joined forces for the US National Team, I learned why her boats were fast. She makes everyone around her a better rower and racer. I can't wait to see how she takes this new program to the level she is accustomed to. Her student-athletes are going to love the level of rowing that Portia is going to bring to Seattle University."