Mateo Vasquez ’21
On Mar. 30, 2021, the rowing community and Trinity College lost Larry Gluckman, an amazing former coach of the program, who passed away at the age of 74 to Leukemia. His rowing career is quite astonishing, and a testament for others to live by. He began his career as a walk-on at Northeastern, which is a highly ranked rowing school. By his senior year, he was elected captain in 1969, and later was inducted into the hall of fame at Northeastern. He continued his education to earn a master’s in special education from Columbia University and then continued on to coach at Princeton University. At Princeton he continued coaching with that same drive and ambition that he had at Northeastern, and his crew won the IRA in 1985.
To say the least, Gluckman is a legend within the community and brought an intensity and high level of performance to every athlete that he had the opportunity to work with. During his time at Trinity, he really helped his crews to excel and achieve an amazing amount of success. At Trinity, he was responsible for winning significant races such as New Englands, the Temple Cup, Head of the Charles, and even the most prized race in rowing: the Henley Royal Regatta. His record at Trinity was astonishing, with 44 wins and only 5 recorded losses across five seasons with the varsity eight. The athletes under his tutelage are also astonishing. During his time at Trinity, Gluckman once said, “I expect to compete and win at the highest level and to give Trinity athletes the chance to row for elite teams after college.” For him, rowing during college was an amazing opportunity, but to shape and impact athletes to continue their career after was just as important. Since then, John Graves ’10, Tom Graves ’05, and Peter Graves ’07, who have each rowed under Gluckman, have continued on in search of the Olympic and national teams with the assistance of Gluckman’s coaching.
Through every opportunity he has had with rowing, he has helped the program rise up and set the team on a path towards victory and also encouraged an overall love for the sport. Coach Kevin MacDermott, who had the opportunity to work closely with Gluckman through the years, stated “on a daily basis, Larry challenged athletes to expand their limits, to push beyond all preexisting physical and mental boundaries. On a larger, yearly basis, he pushed athletes to reset their expectations to encompass large and audacious goals. Larry pushed himself to be excellent and he expected the same from the athletes on the team… One of the mantras that Larry would love to say about crew is that it requires ‘werc’ you can not have crew without the ‘werc,’ and that is exactly what he was able to achieve within his athletes. He had a way of working with people that brought out the best in them as an athlete.” Despite the intensity of a piece or how mentally or physically exhausting it was, Gluckman had a unique ability to make athletes strive for more even during their weak moments.
Towards the end of his life, he did a lot of work with Craftsbury rowing center in Vermont and helped develop a strong program that has produced incredible athletes always giving 100% effort to whatever he was involved in. Dan Roock, a former coach with Gluckman at Princeton and Craftsbury, told the Tripod that “Larry Gluckman spoke of leaving a place better off because of your being there; he just did that for the world.” It is almost impossible to interact with the sport of rowing and not hear about Coach Gluckman. He transformed programs and put crews on the map all unselfishly, quietly, and modestly. Quite frankly, the state and growth of U.S. rowing would not have been as successful over the years if it were not for the assistance of Larry Gluckman. He brought so many opportunities to so many people and shared that love of the sport with others.
His last project was focused on alum John Graves as he approached qualifications for the Olympics. Throughout their time at Trinity and beyond, the Graves family has always stayed close with Gluckman. Alumnus Peter Graves stated that Gluckman “always joked with me that his coaching came with a ‘lifetime warranty,’ and he really meant it. His rules: 1) nothing will work unless we do 2) do more than expected 3) leave the place better than you found it.” No doubt the Graves family is a testament of Gluckman’s ability as a coach, assisting them with qualifiers, nationals, and even training for the Olympics. From what we have seen from the community and the legacy that he left behind, Gluckman’s ideology and lessons truly do come with a “lifetime warranty” as his impact on the sport is tremendous.
Gluckman’s approach to rowing has in many ways improved how others approach all aspects of their life with a little more work, doing more than expected, and leaving an impact on whatever you’re involved with. Gluckman was signed up to be John Graves’ coach at the final Olympic qualifier and was down in Florida cheering him on until his illness prevented him. However, he left John with a message: “Larry wants to make sure that John is taken care of for racing in Europe and beyond. He wants to make sure that he keeps focused on his goal and that he loves him.”
He left the rowing community with a passion and intensity for work and excellence that everyone carries with them today and will continue to make efforts as they strides towards a higher level of rowing. To say the least, Larry Gluckman was incredible and the impact he has had on the sport is nothing short of the drive for excellence that many will try to achieve and emulate.