NORMAN – University of Oklahoma Vice President and Athletics Director Joe Castiglione announced the hiring of Sarah Trowbridge (TRO-bridge) as the second head coach of the Sooners' rowing program on Wednesday.
A 2012 U.S. Olympian, Trowbridge comes to Norman with an impressive resume as a coach and an athlete on the collegiate and international circuits. She takes over following the retirement of 14-year OU head coach Leeanne Crain.
Trowbridge spent the last two years as the women's varsity head coach for the Princeton National Rowing Association (PNRA). She also holds collegiate head coaching experience from her time at the helm of the University of San Diego women's rowing program from 2017-19.
"We are thrilled to welcome Sarah, her husband Bryan and their children Otto and Quincy to our OU family and the Norman community," said Castiglione. "She has competed at the highest level as an Olympian and her experiences at the pinnacle of the sport will be an incredibly valuable asset for this program. Along with her proven track record of success, Sarah brings an incredible energy and passion that will be infectious for our student-athletes. She has a strong competitive spirit and knows the importance of doing things the right way which will help her fit right in here at Oklahoma."
In Trowbridge's two years (2021 and '22) with the PNRA, the team won the USRowing Mid-Atlantic Conference Championship twice, capturing five total events to qualify for the USRowing Youth National Championships on both occasions. Boats she oversaw finished third (2021 Women's Pair), fourth (2022 Women's Eight) and fifth (2021 Women's Straight Four) on the national stage. Every U19 boat the club entered at the Youth National Championships finished in the top 10.
Prior to her stint with the PNRA, Trowbridge led the San Diego women's rowing program for two seasons. She guided the Toreros to two top-three finishes (third in 2018, second in 2019) at the West Coast Conference Championships. Five rowers received All-WCC recognition and 11 earned WCC All-Academic honors. She left the West Coast to move with her family as her husband, Bryan Volpenhein, accepted a job as the head coach of the Penn men's rowing program.
In a short stint as the high-performance head coach at the Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia in 2017, Trowbridge tutored five athletes who competed in the 2017 World Championships and garnered four silver medals and one bronze medal. The club also won its sixth consecutive USRowing Club National Championship, sweeping all three points titles.
From 2012-15, Trowbridge served as an assistant coach on the Yale women's rowing staff and helped guide the Bulldogs to a ninth-place finish at the 2015 NCAA Championships. The varsity four claimed second place that season – the highest event finish in the program's history – and the second varsity eight finished fourth.
Trowbridge's first collegiate coaching job was at Georgetown from 2006-08, where she worked primarily with the freshman lightweight boats and served as the lead recruiting coordinator.
"To say I am excited to join the University of Oklahoma community is an understatement," said Trowbridge. "To be part of the OU Athletics Department and the tradition of excellence Joe Castiglione has built with a culture of performing at the highest level is a dream for me. It hits you right away that the people make this a very special place to study, compete, coach and thrive.
"The people here have amazing spirit and warmth and such great energy. Starting with Coach Leeanne Crain who built a program from the first boats to the state-of-the-art rowing training center, and from the first athletes to a large team aiming to compete with the top teams in the country. I want to wish Coach Crain the best on her next chapter and to thank her for everything she's done for OU Rowing.
"I came to OU because I believe that it offers a unique student-athlete experience where the support of the department and the culture of the campus enable rowers to reach their highest potential. I came because Sooner MAGIC is everywhere, and the core values of the athletics department are evident in all that they do. And I came because I can't wait to work with this current team and see what they can accomplish as well as get the word out to rowers around the country and the world that you can have an amazing rowing career and have access to more academic options for long-term job success than most anywhere.
"I want to thank Joe Castiglione for this opportunity and I can't wait to get to work as the head coach of OU Rowing. Boomer Sooner!"
During the collegiate rowing offseason, Trowbridge has taken the opportunity to ply her trade on the international stage on multiple occasions. She has coached United States women's teams to a sixth-place finish at the Olympics (2016) and to a silver and two bronze medals across five separate World Championships (2015-19). In addition, she coached U.S. men's teams at the 2015 Senior and U23 World championships. Most recently, she led the Trinidad and Tobago women's singles program at the 2020 Olympics.
As an athlete, Trowbridge has been a member of six U.S senior national teams and represented the U.S. at the 2012 Olympics in London, where her boat finished sixth in the women's double sculls. In four consecutive years at the World Championships (2008-11) she won silver medals in the quadruple sculls (2009) and straight four (2008) and finished fifth in the quadruple sculls and ninth in the double sculls in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Her boat took home gold in the double and silver in the quad at the 2007 Pan-American Games.
"I have seen Sarah develop as an athlete, coach and person over the past 15 years," said Matt Madigan, Trowbridge's coach during the 2012 Olympic Games. "She works diligently to be the best and improves those around her. She will take the time required to improve her skills, communicate and teach the student-athletes and build a team culture of success. 'T-Row' has high expectations for all aspects of rowing and draws the best - mentally, physically and technically - out of each individual athlete. She is also a tenacious competitor who loves to win. I am excited to see the positive impact she will have on the OU rowing program."
Trowbridge grew up in Washington, D.C., and moved to Guilford, Conn., in high school. She began rowing as high school senior with the Blood Street Sculls and earned a spot on the University of Michigan rowing team. She helped the Wolverines win back-to-back Big Ten championships and earn two top-five finishes at the NCAA Championships (fourth in 2003 and third in 2004). She graduated from Michigan in 2006 with a degree in English.
Trowbridge's husband, Bryan, is also very accomplished in the rowing community. Beyond his role with Penn, he is a three-time Olympian and was the head coach of the U.S. National Team for six years. The pair have two children, Otto and Quincy.
Quotes from Around the Sport
Texas Head Coach Dave O'Neill
"OU has made a terrific hire with Sarah Trowbridge. She obviously knows rowing inside and out, but her real strength is her ability to convey what she knows and connect with others. She's both a fierce competitor and a wonderful person, so it will be good to be in the same conference moving forward."
Yale Head Coach Will Porter
"Sarah is an amazing coach. I cannot think of a better person to run a top tier DI program. She knows rowing inside and out, but her strength is building a winning culture while having fun. I cannot be happier for her, Bryan and the kids. OU Rowing is on the move. Bring the covered wagon to the boathouse!"