Paul Rassam enters his nine year as the head coach of Princeton women’s lightweight crew in 2012, and his program has had several extremely productive seasons recently.
After spending the 2011 season ranked No. 1, Princeton ended Wisconsin's long run at EAWRCs with a win in the grand final. Princeton also took silver at the IRA Championships, and it nearly knocked off reigning champion Stanford with a dramatic final push on Cooper River. The 2011 season followed a memorable finish to the 2010 season, when Princeton medaled at both the EAWRC and IRA championship regattas.
After a heavy rebuilding season in 2012, Princeton came out strong last year with a dual victory over Wisconsin in the opener and a second-place finish in the San Diego Crew Classic. A young Princeton varsity eight finished the season with a silver medal at the Eastern Sprints.
The Tigers placed second to Wisconsin at both the Eastern Sprints and IRA national championships in his first season, but they were perfect the rest of the way, including a win in the Knecht Cup against a field that included Wisconsin. Along the way, the varsity 4 won gold at the Eastern Sprints and set a course record in doing so.
In his second season, the lightweight women picked up wins against each of the top programs in the country, although it came away empty-handed in the postseason. Princeton was even better during the 2008 regular season, when it went undefeated against the top crews in the nation, including a sweep of the programs ranked second through sixth, and was ranked No. 1 unanimously throughout the season. Last season, Princeton won silver at the EAWRC championships.
Prior to his time at Princeton, he served two years as the head women’s coach and two others as an assistant coach at George Mason from 2000-2004. During his two years as the head coach, he was able to triple the George Mason team size. His successful term was highlighted at the Dad Vail Regatta in 2004, when he led the Varsity 8s to the semifinal race for the first time in six years.
In 2003, George Mason placed second in the Colonial Athletic Association championships, and the lightweight 4 won the gold at the Southern Intercollegiate Championships. Rassam has also coached masters at Smichov Rowing Club, Prague and Capital Rowing Club in Washington, D.C.
A 1997 Princeton graduate with a degree in English literature, Rassam started his professional career as an account manager with Eurosports Marketing in Prague and Budapest. He rowed as a lightweight for three years and won two bronze medals at the Eastern Sprints (1991 and 1992) and one gold in 1995, when Princeton went on to win the Jope Cup.
Rassam believes in much more than rowing technique. He believes in nutrition, health, strength and fitness, both in his rowers and himself. He lives an athletic lifestyle and is an avid runner, and he has run in several marathons. He set a personal record of 2:48 in the 2008 Boston Marathon. In 1994, Rassam finished in fourth place in the kayaking national championships. He also continues to race, most recently competing with the Princeton Lightweight Alumni at the 2004 Henley Royal Regatta and at the 2004 Head of the Charles with the Fat Cat Princeton Alumni boat.