Women’s Team History

A women’s varsity program was initiated at Ithaca in spring 1975. Competing under club status, the Bombers captured the 1976 Dad Vail varsity 8 title, the first year women’s races where offered at the regatta. Jerry Dietz, a member of the bronze-winning men’s heavyweight 8 as an undergraduate, guided Ithaca to the crown in his first year as a women’s coach. Although women’s rowing grew nationally over the next few years, Ithaca claimed the Dad Vail championship again in 1979, coached by Julie Rife, the stroke of the 1976 crew. Peg Mallery who rowed in Ithaca’s top crew in 1981 and 1982 before transferring competed for the U.S. national team in the inaugural 1986 Goodwill Games and in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea.

In 1983 women’s crew became a varsity sport at Ithaca College. After several inconsistent years, coach Jocelyn Kearing guided Ithaca’s women’s varsity to the first two of what is now 14 consecutive winning seasons. Included in that run were four New York State small-school titles. The state championship, first raced in 1990, now includes nearly 30 colleges and universities. A key performer in the emerging women’s program was Becky Metz Robinson. After two letter-winning seasons with the Bombers, Robinson made the National team in 1991. A year later she was the final-day cut from the U.S. Olympic Team. She returned to help coach the Bombers and in 1995 became the first crew program representative to be inducted into the Ithaca College Athletic Hall of Fame.

The first NCAA-sponsored championship regatta for women was held in 1997. A women’s four from Ithaca qualified for the all-division event and placed fourth in the petite final and 10th overall. Mary Obidinski ’97, a member of that crew, now competes with the U.S. national team. In 2001 she won the women’s lightweight double at Princeton’s World Cup event. The Bombers returned to the NCAA championships in 1998, were the second-highest finishing Division II or III team at the 2001 championships and placed third at the 2002 event (the first championship exclusively for Division III teams). In 2002, Tallman joined Becky Robinson in Ithaca’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
The College Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) picked its first all-America teams in 2000and at least one Bomber athlete has been honored every year since then, starting with Beth Greene and Liz Jackstadt.

In 2004 the Women’s Team was named Division III National Champions. The win came due to incredible performances from both the first and second varsity boats. For the first time in NCAA history a second varsity boat made the grand final. The Ithaca First Varsity boat took first place with a one tenth of a second win over Smith College in the Grand Final. With the two boats performing so well, the Bomber’s combined score was the lowest ever recorded at the NCAA Division III Championship. The team returned to NCAAs the following year to gain a repeat title, the first crew to do so in Division III history. Ithaca Women’s Crew remains the only team to have qualified for every Divison III NCAA championship.

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