Spencer Washburn, who helped Greg Hughes develop one of the finest lightweight rowing teams in Princeton history, is trying to recreate that magic with the heavyweight program. After three years as Hughes' assistant with the lightweights, Washburn is now in his fifth season as the assistant coach for the heavyweights this coming season.
"I am excited to have Spencer working with our program," Hughes said. "He's a great coach, a strong leader and a fierce competitor."
After serving his first three seasons primarily (and successfully) as the main novice coach, Washburn took over more of an overall role with the program after freshman rowers were allowed to row at the varsity level. Hughes called Washburn "more of a co-coach," and the duo helped Princeton send both the V8 and 2V8 to the grand finals at both Sprints and the IRA national championships.
Washburn had a memorable conclusion to his first year with the Princeton novice heavies; the Tigers upset EARC champion Harvard to finish with bronze in the IRA grand final. It was the best finish for an Ivy League boat, and it followed a silver finish at the Eastern championships. Despite coming in to the regatta as the fifth seed, the novice eight moved up three spots and was within less than a second of topping Harvard.
Washburn, a three-time medalist as a Princeton heavyweight rower, returned to campus to serve as the assistant coach for the men's lightweight program when Scott Alwin became the head coach at Columbia. He served as the novice coach for the last three seasons, which allowed him to work with the members of the eventual 2009 EARC, IRA and Henley championship crew. Washburn, who had coached at the Hun School for two years prior to his return to Princeton, led the novice eight to the EARC grand final again last season.
Washburn spent two years in the Princeton varsity 8+, including a 2004 season that saw the Tigers claim a silver medal at Eastern Sprints. He was named varsity captain in 2005 and was the co-recipient of the W. Lyman Biddle Award (Leadership and Sportsmanship). He won another silver medal at Eastern Sprints that season, his final as a Princeton rower. His first came in 2003, when he helped lead the freshmen 8+ to a bronze at the IRA national championships.
Following his 2005 graduation, Washburn spent two years at the Hun School of Princeton as the Associate Director of Residential Life, a history teacher and coach of the varsity girls' crew. In two years, the varsity 4+ and lightweight 4+ made the SRAA (Scholastic Rowing Association of America) national championships twice. Both placing fifth during the 2007 championships.