Knickerbocker Impacts Bearcats as Head Coach

Women's Rowing Moment of the Year

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- For the Willamette University women's rowing team the hiring of Reba Knickerbocker as head coach was a key moment in the 2013-14 athletic year. Once Knickerbocker joined the Willamette coaching staff in November, she was able to develop a bond with her team and begin the process of building a strong and cohesive program.

Knickerbocker brought considerable coaching experience, both at the NCAA Division III level and with rowing clubs. She was the novice rowing coach at Mills College (Calif.) in 1998-99 and served as the interim head rowing coach at Mills in 1999-00. She was an assistant rowing coach at Mount Holyoke College (Mass.) from 2003 through 2005.

In addition to her collegiate coaching experience, Knickerbocker has spent many years as a successful coach at the junior and master club level.

Knickerbocker was the head coach and program director at Northampton Youth and Community Rowing in Massachusetts from 2000 through 2005. She increased youth rowers from 20 to over 100 in one year, and implemented a master’s rowing program that grew from four members to 20 members in one year.

She served as the head coach and program manager at the East Bay Rowing Club in Oakland, Calif., from 2011 through 2013. Her efforts increased the number of adult rowers from 39 to approximately 70.

Even before arriving at Willamette, Knickerbocker was thrilled about the positive attitude the rowers and coxswains brought to the team.

“The athletes struck me by their investment in the rowing program and a clear commitment to seeing it thrive,” Knickerbocker added. “I can’t say when I last sat with a group of athletes and felt such ownership in their program and a determination to create an environment of success.”

After becoming Willamette's head coach, Knickerbocker continued to see tremendous dedication from the Bearcats. The work ethic paid off when the Willamette women's varsity 4+ placed third at the Daffodil Sprints on American Lake in Tacoma, Wash., on March 29.

Later in the season, coxswain Rachel Robinson (Jr., Bellevue, WA/Bellevue HS) was chosen for All-Conference honors in the Northwest Collegiate Rowing Conference (NCRC).

Four members of the Willamette women's rowing team were named All-Academic by the NCRC with cumulative or semester grade point averages of at least 3.5. The All-Academic selections were Robinson, Katy Wallner (Jr., P, Petaluma, CA/Petaluma HS), Molly Pritchard (Fr., P, Medford, OR/South Medford HS) and Emily Rolin (Fr., S, Richmond, RI/Chariho HS).

"Overall the season ended on an up feeling as far as attitude and approach by the rowers," Knickerbocker said. "I'm returning all of the rowers who finished the season. I'm also looking forward to growing the team in the fall and bringing on some new novices."

The addition of Knickerbocker was an important moment for the Bearcat women's rowing team. She was able to motivate the current rowers to improve their individual and collective skills, and now she's able to focus on adding new rowers to the team as the 2014-15 season approaches.

Reba Knickerbocker joined Willamette as the head rowing coach in November.

Reba Knickerbocker joined Willamette as the head rowing coach in November.