Healey to coach Dartmouth men’s lightweight crew team
By Lilly Maguire, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, August 10, 2012
Athletic Director Harry Sheehy announced on Tuesday that Sean Healey has been hired as the new head coach of the men’s lightweight crew team. Healey comes to Dartmouth with six years of experience working as the freshman lightweight coach at his alma mater Cornell University.
Healey led the Cornell freshmen to a 29-13 regular season record and back-to-back Kilpatrick Cup titles at the Eastern Sprints as the league’s top freshman eight. He aims on having the same kind of success at Dartmouth by developing a strong team work ethic, he said.
“When you get into the nitty-gritty details, there’s no secret to getting faster,” Healey said. “It’s hard work. Building strength, building boat skill in the small boats and then transferring it to bigger boats too, but mostly it’s about committing to that work.”
At Dartmouth, Healey hopes to build what he considers to be one of the most important elements of a team — a good environment at practice.
“I want to make sure they look forward to coming to practice and feel good about putting in the work,” he said. “If there’s not that feeling, there’s no incentive.”
Men’s lightweight rowers said that although it will be difficult to replace former head coach Dan Roock, they are confident that Healey can help train and lead them.
“Coach Roock laid the groundwork for what’s to come,” rower Sam Morris ’14 said. “It’s the same team, and we’re just going to keep going from where we are, having won silver at IRAs these past few years.”
The lightweights have claimed a close second place at the Eastern Sprints for the past two years, finishing behind Harvard University both times. Last season, they lost by less than a second to the Crimson.
Morris is confident that his team will build on their tradition of success, and he said he hopes that the team will snag the elusive gold medal at the Eastern Sprints this upcoming year.
“I know personally that we’ll improve our depth next year,” he said. “We’ve had good success in our top boats, but we’ve liked to push it down as well. I’d like to see us get the top position and get that gold.”
Healey said he is most excited to come to Dartmouth because of the enthusiasm the rowers share for the program.
“Everyone I’ve talked to, including my wife [Heather Healey ’00] who was on the women’s team, conveys this overwhelming sense of enthusiasm about rowing here,” Healey said. “That makes coming to work every day very easy.”
Healey said he plans on using this zest for rowing to maintain a positive attitude among team members.
“That’s the highlight of being a coach,” he said. “It’s being around driven people who are there for the same reason I am — to get faster.”
Healey will have to adjust to the differences between Dartmouth’s and Cornell’s academic schedules. Cornell’s traditional semester system contrasts with Dartmouth’s quarter system and the D-plan, which often affects athletes’ training schedules. Healey said he is not concerned about the change and plans to use the time sophomores have during the summer to his advantage, allowing rowers to take off-terms during Fall term.
“We want our athletes to have that off-term experience, but we want them to be able to keep up with their training,” says Healey. “Summer rowing is an excellent opportunity to take advantage of the beautiful conditions to get more racing experience.”
One of Healey’s priorities is to encourage rowers to live balanced, healthy lifestyles, which is often a difficult task for competitive, Division-I athletes, he said.
“As a rower, balance was something that I did well but I didn’t necessarily understand,” he said. “Family is the most important — you always have to take care of them. Academics comes next, because above all, athletes are here to go to school.”
Healey said that keeping life balanced is essential to focus at practice.
“Rowing and then extracurriculars come after family and academics,” he said. “We want our athletes to excel at all four of these things.”
In addition to serving as the head coach of the lightweight freshmen, Healey assisted the varsity crews and helped the Cornell Big Red win two consecutive IRA titles in 2007 and 2008 and an Eastern Sprints team championship in 2008.
Henley spent his college rowing career as a member of the Cornell lightweight team, where he helped the team claim three second-place finishes at Eastern Sprints in 2002, 2003 and 2005. As a senior, he won the IRA Pair Championship.