By Jimmy Tran
Winning follows Steve Gladstone, so when he returned to Cal in 1997 for his second coaching stint in Berkeley, success inevitably also returned to the men's crew. Now, 11 years and five IRA championships later, Gladstone is once again leaving the program. Never known to stay at one place for more than a decade, Gladstone announced last Friday that he is stepping down from his duties at Cal to pursue a post at the California Rowing Club. There, Gladstone will work with California Rowing Club director Tim McClaren and train postgraduate rowers aiming for the World Championships and Olympic competition. "I need to repot myself periodically," Gladstone said. "The way I've done that in the past is by changing universities. What really intrigues me is the building process. To find something and leave it in better shape than I found it."
Gladstone first came to Cal in 1973 and immediately turned the program into a national-title contender. In 1976, Cal won its first-ever IRA title and added a Pac-10 Championship in 1979 before Gladstone's first departure in 1980. If anyone doubted his abilities and influence, the fact that Cal finished only as high as third just once until his return stands as proof of his quality. "There has to be a real passion to succeed, and beyond that, is doing it together to achieve a goal," Gladstone said. "The word I use is cooperation-working to work together." Gladstone did more for Cal than just win national titles as a coach. He also served as the university's athletic director from 2001 to 2004, during which he hired Jeff Tedford as head football coach in December 2001.
Around the same time, Gladstone was guiding the crew team to more IRA championships and finished with five total in his second stint at Cal, with four of them coming consecutively in 1999-2002. Gladstone's final IRA crown in 2006 was the 11th in his prestigious career, tying him with Charles "Pop" Courtney of Cornell for the most varsity-eight titles in the history of collegiate rowing. Because Gladstone will now be working with world-class rowers, some may see his departure in the wrong light, but Gladstone insisted that it did not influence his decision. "This is not a better challenge but a new one, and that distinction is very important," Gladstone said. The future, as always, is unclear, but with Gladstone working as an assistant to McClaren, the notion of the U.S. bringing home a medal this summer is not far fetched. Still, Gladstone said he will always remember his time at Cal. "There's no question the opportunity to mark people's lives is very compelling," Gladstone said. "When you're coaching, that's not your primary objective but in the daily rigor, people's lives are touched and I've touched them in positive ways, and I'll miss that."