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Vol. LXIII, No. 37
 
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
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Crotty Taking the Helm of PU Men’s Lightweights, Aiming to Maintain Program’s Professional Approach

Bill Alden

They were the Mutt and Jeff of the Princeton University boathouse in the mid-1990s.

Marty Crotty was a heavyweight star who helped that program to national titles in 1996 and 1998 while Greg Hughes was a wiry lightweight and a driving force behind a crew that took a national crown in 1996.

While the two men may not resemble each other physically, they are cut from the same cloth when it comes to their passion for Princeton rowing.

Hughes joined the Princeton coaching staff as a heavyweight assistant in 1998 and rose through the ranks.

He became the men’s lightweight head coach in 2006 and this past spring, he led the Tigers to an undefeated campaign which saw the top boat with Eastern Sprint, national collegiate, and Henley titles. This summer, Hughes was named to follow Curtis Jordan as the head coach of the Tiger men’s heavyweight program.

Crotty, for his part, joined the Princeton crew staff as a heavyweight assistant in 2006 when Hughes took over the lightweight program.

Now, Crotty is following in Hughes’ footsteps again, replacing his friend and mentor as the men’s lightweight head coach.

With the Princeton school year starting this week and the fall crew season getting underway, Crotty is looking to take a page out of Hughes’ book as he takes the helm of the lightweights.

“Greg and I may seem different on the surface but a lot of what’s inside us and how we go about our business is similar,” said Crotty.

“Greg is a coach and he immerses himself in the profession. He has the ability to be meticulous. He’s not autocratic but when it comes to setting plans from week to week and month to month, he’s totally professional. I will apply the same philosophy and methodical approach; I aspire to be a pro like Greg.”

Crotty also learned some valuable lessons from working under Jordan the last four years.

“I think Curtis is known as a rower’s coach without getting too chummy,” said Crotty, who also coached at Loyola Academy in Chicago and with the Mercer Junior Rowing Club.

“He keeps them at arm’s length and then in March and April, he brings everything together.”

This past spring, Crotty got a crash course from Jordan on leading a crew through stormy waters as the Tiger heavyweights struggled to a 1-6 campaign.

“Curtis wants his rowers to not get too excited or too down,” added Crotty.

“That helped last year when things were going horribly. The team stayed together because of Curtis. He didn’t make excuses. He would come in every Monday and say ‘let’s get back to work and get better; let’s try this, let’s work on this.’”

Crotty is looking forward to getting the chance to work with the lightweight program.

“I am excited for this opportunity,” said Crotty. “It is a great group of athletes and a great group of guys. They are into a million things and rowing is just one of them. We have four good returners on the top boat and some freshmen, sophomores, and juniors ready to fill holes.”

While Crotty acknowledges that it will be difficult to match last year’s achievements, he knows that winning titles is not the only measure of success.

“I want to put them in the position to succeed,” said Crotty. “There is always pressure to win, of course. The pressure I also feel is to make sure that the 32 or whatever guys all have a great experience.”

This week, Crotty will take the first step in that process as he meets with his rowers to kick off the fall campaign.

“You have to have a plan and be organized,” said Crotty. “You have a vision and you get them to the starting line. After that, it is up to them to race.”

Crotty knows he is in for some tough challenges on race days as the Eastern lightweight league is known for its parity and fierce competition.

“I know you have to be respectful to the other crews; they all are expecting to win and it is a struggle every single Saturday,” said Crotty.

“In high school, a race could be over in the first 32 strokes. A boat would get a lead and that would be it because others wouldn’t have the gumption to come back. In this league, you need 220 perfect strokes.”

Having started a quest for perfection at Princeton in the mid-1990s, Crotty has what it takes to keep the Tiger lightweights at the head of the pack.

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