Harry Parker
Harry Parker
Title: The Thomas Bolles Head Coach for Harvard Men's Heavyweight Crew
Organization: Men's Heavyweight Crew
Phone: (617) 495-7775
Alma Mater: Penn 1957
Experience: 51 Seasons

Harry Parker, The Thomas Bolles Head Coach for HarvardMen's Heavyweight Crew, was widely regarded as the premier rowingcoach in the United States before his passing on June 25, 2013.After taking over the heavyweight program in 1963, he broughttremendous success to the Crimson as his crews produced EasternSprints titles and national championships. He also guided Harvardto clear advantages over all its collegiate opponents, and hastaken Crimson rowing onto the world stage to compete.

Parker finished his 51st season of his head-coaching tenure andhis 53rd year overall at Harvard in 2012-13. Highlights of theParker era included 22 undefeated regular seasons, 24 EARCSprints varsity titles, 21 JV Sprints crowns, eight officialnational championship victories, and eight unofficial nationalcrowns when the Crimson has gone undefeated against all majorcompetition.

Parker also owned a 44-7 record at the Harvard-YaleRegatta, including sweeps in the last six regattas, and had 18student-athletes named Academic All-Ivy League over the last 20years.

In 2012, Parker was also awarded the Harvard Medal forextraordinary service to the university. TheHarvard Medal recognizes extraordinary service from teaching,leadership, and innovation to fundraising, administration, andvolunteerism.

Notwithstanding the many successes of his varsity crews,Parker took particular pride in the success of his so called lowercrews; second, third and fourth varsity boats. He strove to ensurethat every member of the varsity heavyweight squad received equalcoaching attention and had a satisfying experience while on theteam. As a result, Harvard's lower boats also enjoyed great successover the years and a large percentage of the oarsmen remained withthe team for all four years.

The rate of success has continued throughout his time. Parker'sHarvard varsities have won three Intercollegiate Rowing Associationnational championships since 2003.

In his final season, the Crimson varsity eight finished second inthe nation. The Crimson finished fourth as a team at theIRA National Championships, with the varsity eight earning a silvermedal, after capturing its fourth straight Rowe Cup at the EARCSprints. Harvard was again unbeaten in the regular season andfinished either first or second in each event itentered. 

The 2011 campaign was one of the best in Crimson history. Thevarsity, second varsity and freshman eights won Sprints titles andIRA medals, including a runner-up varsity finish. Each boat wasalso undefeated during the regular season, as Harvard did not losea dual race in which it entered an eight. Five athletes capped theyear with a win in the Prince Albert Challenge Cup at the HenleyRoyal Regatta. Following that season, Parker was awarded theUSRowing Medal, given to the member of the rowing community who hasaccomplished extraordinary feats in rowing. It is the highest honorUSRowing can bestow.

In 2009, his varsity eight went undefeated in dual racing forthe 20th time since 1963 and gave him his 40th Harvard-Yale winwith a 20-second victory over its arch rival. His 2007 and 2010varsities completed the Sprints-Henley double, capturing Easterntitles in Worcester, Mass., and winning the Ladies' Challenge Platein England.

The 2006 campaign saw the Crimson varsity win its seventhstraight over rival Yale, while the second varsity rowed anundefeated season claiming gold at the Eastern Sprints andIRAs.

The latest run of unparalleled success was the most recentaddition to Parker's already-impressive resume, as the varsityentered the spring of 2006 having won 24 consecutive dual matchescovering 32 opponents. Parker's 2005 varsity continued theremarkable run by capturing a third straight gold medal at bothEastern Sprints and the IRA National Championship, retaining theTen Eyck Trophy for overall heavyweight supremacy at IRAs, as wellas a sixth consecutive victory over Yale.

Parker kept Harvard at the forefront of the rowing landscape, ashis 2004 eight drew comparison with some of the top crews inCrimson lore and was mentioned among the top collegiate varsitiesever fielded. That boat finished its third consecutive undefeateddual season, won sprints gold for the second-straight year,successfully defended its IRA National Championship and capped theseason with impressive displays in international competition.Racing as the second U.S. entry in Lucerne at the World CupRegatta, Parker's varsity finished sixth overall in a competitionloaded with Olympic entries, finishing ahead of the Olympic eightsof both France and Great Britain and just under two lengths behindthe U.S. Olympic boat which would claim gold in Athens later thatsummer. At Henley, the Crimson again challenged itself against thestiffest competition, eventually falling in the finals of the GrandChallenge Cup - usually reserved for top internationalcompetition—by two-thirds of a length to the Dutch, theeventual silver medalists in Athens.

The 2002 season also ranked among his finest: the varsity andjunior varsity went undefeated in dual racing, the JV's capturedthe Sprints crown—with the varsity earning a silver medal -and the varsity won the Ladies Challenge Plate while a JV fourclaimed the Britannia Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta. His 1998crew similarly won all of its dual races and completed its seasonby capturing the Ladies Challenge Plate.

Prior to the string of three national titles (2003-05), Parker'screws had been officially crowned national champions in 1983, '85,'87, '88, '89 and '92 after capturing eight unofficial crowns inthe two preceding decades. His 1985 crew scored what would beconsidered a Harvard grand slam: a Sprints title, triumph overYale, victory in the national championship race at the CincinnatiRegatta and a win in the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley. Parker hasalso led Harvard to seven San Diego Crew Classic titles and twotitles each at the Potomac Regatta and Redwood Shores Regatta.

Under Parker, Harvard crews also raced against the world's bestand achieved amazing success. The 2004 trip to Lucerne continued anamazing tradition, as Harvard also won the 1965 LucerneInternational Regatta, was a close second at the 1967 worldchampionships, won the 1967 Pan American Games and captured the1968 U.S. Olympic trials before taking sixth in the Games at MexicoCity. His crews have also recorded several wins at the NileFestival Regatta in Egypt. Additionally, Parker-coached Harvardoarsmen have rowed at every Olympic Games over the past fourdecades.

From 1964 in Tokyo until 1984 in Los Angeles, Parker regularlycoached U.S. Olympic crews, leading both men's and women'sentries to strong finishes. He coached the first U.S. women'seight to compete in the world championships, earning a silver medalin 1975. Parker later coached the U.S. women's eight toa bronze medal at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.

In 1980, Parker coached the U.S. men's Olympic eight,which ranked second in the world prior to the boycott of the MoscowOlympics. In 1985, he coached single sculler Andy Sudduth '83-85 toan astonishing performance in the World Rowing Championships,during which Sudduth finished second and defeated four-time worldchampion Peter Michael Kolbe of Germany.

Six former Parker's oarsmen have competed in the last twoOlympic Games. Artour Samsonov '02 (pair), Wolf Moser '98 (four)and Henry Nuzum '99 (double scull) rowed in Athens at the 2004Games, while, Malcolm Howard '05 (eight) and Cameron and TylerWinklevoss '04 (pair) competed in Beijing. All three rowers in 2008advanced to the grand finals of their respected races, with Howardand the Canadian rowing to gold. Among the other Olympians he hascoached are 1984 silver medalist Sudduth, who rowed in the eight atLos Angeles, and Jack Rusher '89, a member of the 1988 U.S. eightthat won bronze in Seoul. Richard Kennelly '87 won a silver medalat those same 1988 Games. Rusher also rowed at the '92 Games inBarcelona, where he was joined by Peter Sharis '90 and Chris Swan'90. Adam Holland '94 competed at the 1996 Atlanta Games, and therewere three Crimson heavyweight oarsmen at the 2000 Games: NickPeterson '95, Moser and Nuzum.

Parker's athletes are often among the top in their age group,and have garnered spots in international competition. In the summerof 2005 alone, five Crimson heavyweight oarsmen competed in theWorld Under-23 Championships in Amsterdam, including two from hisnational champion varsity.

Parker began rowing as an undergraduate at the University ofPennsylvania, where he was part of victorious crews at Sprints andin Grand Challenge Cup. After graduating, he took up singlesculling and won the gold medal in the 1959 Pan American Games. Hethen placed fifth in the single at the 1960 Olympics.