Since being named head coach in October of 1997, Martin Stone has been the driving force behind Notre Dame's emergence on the national scene. The only head coach in program history, Stone and the Irish will begin their 18th season of varsity competition in 2015-16.
Since that inaugural season, Stone has been the individual and mentor responsible for elevating, nurturing and building a national-caliber program that has enjoyed tremendous success, prominence and respect amongst its peers.
When he was named the program's first-ever head coach in the fall of 1997 after rowing was granted varsity status, Stone came to Notre Dame with one simple objective -- to build a program that was recognized as one of the nation's best.
During his tenure, few could argue with the success of the program and its stature within the collegiate rowing community.
Over his first 17 years at the helm of the Irish program, Stone has helped guide Notre Dame to eight NCAA appearances.
The most recent appearance came in 2015 as the team earned an at-large berth after placing second in the elite Atlantic Coast Conference for the second year in a row. The NCAA appearance was the fourth in a row for the Irish, which set a program record.
At the NCAA regatta, Stone's Irish squad recorded a 16th-place finish (41 points).
Individually, senior Ailish Sheehan earned second team CRCA All-America honors after helping lead the first varsity eight to its fourth straight NCAA berth. Sheehan and junior Joanna Mulvey earned first team CRCA all-region honors and senior Anna Kottkamp garned second team accolades.
At the ACC Championships, Sheehan and Mulvey received first team all-ACC honors, while freshman Reilly Kearney earned second team all-ACC accolades.
Despite the impressive efforts of the team on the water, the highlight of the 2014-15 season was Kottkamp, who was named the University of Notre Dame valedictorian for the May 2015 graduation after receiving the NCAA Elite 89 award and the ACC Rowing Scholar-Athlete of the Year award for the second year in a row. She later won an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and was named a first team CoSIDA Academic All-American. The Elite 89 Award is presented to the student-athlete with the best cumulative grade point average at each of the NCAA's 89 championship events.
Notre Dame posted a ninth place result at the 2014 NCAA regatta, tying a program-best finish all-time at the event. It was Notre Dame's best NCAA performance since the field expanded to a full-team format in 2012. The Irish also finished as the 2014 ACC Championship runner-up to perennial national power Virginia after winning the BIG EAST Conference Championship 10 consecutive seasons from 2004-13.
Notre Dame's string of 10 straight conference titles was the longest active streak in the BIG EAST with the Irish women's swimming and diving team's streak ending at 14 consecutive in 2010-11.
Individual accolades poured in for Notre Dame following its inaugural campaign in the ACC, as Erin Boxberger and Molly Bruggeman each represented the Irish for the second straight year as Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) Pocock All- America selections. Boxberger became just the fourth different first team All-American in program history, joining Bruggeman (2012-13), Amanda Polk (2006-08) and Natalie Ladine (2004), while Bruggeman joined Polk (2005-08) as Notre Dame rowers with three or more career All-America citations with a second team scroll in 2014.
Boxberger and Bruggeman, along with Christina Dines, Sheehan and Mulvey, represented the Irish on the CRCA South all-region team, tying a program-high for student-athletes selected to an all-region squad in a single season.
Academic success has always been a strong suit of Stone's squads at Notre Dame, as evidenced by the school record tying 10 Irish rowers who received CRCA National Scholar-Athlete recognition in 2014 followed by nine in 2015. Notre Dame team members have now claimed a total of 81 national scholar-athlete honors from the CRCA since 2002. Kottkamp also became the first Irish rower, and just fourth Notre Dame student-athlete overall, to receive the NCAA Elite 89 Award prior to the start of the 2014 NCAA Championship.
In building the program from its infancy, Stone has been able to relish the steady growth within the program.
Less than 10 years after its first season of competition, Stone and Notre Dame reached a program first as the Irish earned their firstever at-large team berth for the 2006 NCAA Championships and then followed it up with another appearance in the team competition in 2007.
The Irish finished 9th in '06 and earned a 12th-place finish in '07. The back-to-back NCAA berths were an endorsement for the program as one of the nation's top collegiate programs. The '12 season marked the first time since the NCAA Championship expanded to 16 teams that Stone and the Irish reached the finals, finishing 15th (varsity four - 8th, second varsity eight - 13th, varsity eight - 16th) overall.
Each and every season, Stone and the Irish have shown why they continue to be one of the most consistent programs at the University.
In 2010, Stone's squad cemented its status as the BIG EAST Conference's most dominant program in the sport by winning its seventh consecutive league crown. In convincing fashion, the Irish captured five of six races and finished second in the other event. The championship also saw Stone and his coaching staff cop staff-of-the-year honors for the fourth time in five seasons. Notre Dame also had a league-best six rowers earn all-conference accolades (2010 marked the first season that all-conference honors were handed out).
Stephanie Gretsch earned a double honor from the CRCA at the end of the campaign as well, being named an all-central region first team selection as well as a National Scholar-Athlete, along with teammate and coxswain Sarah Keithley. On top of Keithley being named a National Scholar- Athlete, she also was honored by the BIG EAST Conference as the Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Award winner, becoming the third Irish rower to receive the honor.
In 2009, Notre Dame captured its sixth straight BIG EAST crown after making BIG EAST history in 2008 en route to winning its fifth straight conference crown as the Irish became the first team in conference history to sweep all six races with victories in the varsity eight, second varsity eight, varsity four, second varsity four, novice eight and novice four events.
The '09 season also saw Lauren Buck became the program's first-ever recipient of a prestigious NCAA postgraduate scholarship. Buck was one of four student-athletes to earn a postgraduate scholarship, the most Irish student-athletes honored in a single academic year.
For the third straight year in '08, Stone and his assistants Joe Schlosberg and Marnie Stahl were selected as the BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year.
Notre Dame's varsity eight crew also finished the 2007-08 campaign ranked for the third time in as many seasons as the Irish ended the year 18th in the final Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA)/US Rowing ranking.
Amanda Polk, the most decorated rower in school history, carved a unique niche as the program's first four-time All-American as she garnered CRCA first-team honors for the third consecutive year after earning second-team accolades as a freshman.
Polk also capped off her career by earning first-team CRCA All-Central Region honors, one of two Irish rowers to be selected for allregional honors. Polk's teammate, Julie Sobolewski was a second-team honoree.
In 2006-07, the Irish finished 12th at the NCAA Championships and won its fourth consecutive BIG EAST crown, while also placing fifth at the Central/South Region Championships.
The varsity eight boat won the gold medal at the BIG EAST Championships and was third at the Central/South Region Championships. At one point during midseason, the Irish varsity eight crew rattled off five consecutive wins over top-10 boats for the first time ever in program history and climbed to an all-time high of third in the national poll.
Polk became the program's first threetime All-American and was a repeat selection on the CRCA first team. Teammate Allison Marsh copped second-team All-America honors.
Five rowers garnered CRCA All-Central Region honors as Polk, Marsh and coxswain Maria Romano were selected to the firstteam, while Meghan Boyle and Laura Pearson were tabbed as second-team honorees.
The unmatched success of the 2005-06 campaign could certainly be considered the program's benchmark along with an impressive 2013-14 season. During the season, the Irish finished ninth in the team competition at the NCAA Championships after earning the school's first-ever team bid. Highlighting the Championship was a victory by the varsity eight boat in the Petite Final as the crew earned a seventh-place finish overall. Both the second varsity eight and varsity four crews also advanced to the Petite Final in their races and finished 12th and 11th, respectively.
Stone was tabbed BIG EAST Coach of the Year in 2006 for the second time in his career after Notre Dame won its third consecutive conference title by winning four of six races. He also was named the CRCA Central Region Coach of the Year (an honor that he also earned in 2002) after the Irish finished a program-best third at the Central/South Region Championships.
After beginning the season unranked, Notre Dame's varsity eight boat finished fifth in the final CRCA/US Rowing ranking. In addition to finishing seventh at the NCAAs, the Irish varsity eight copped gold medals at both the BIG EAST and Central/South Region Championships. The win at the Central/South Region Championships was the first in a Grand Final for a Notre Dame varsity eight boat. Earlier in the spring, Notre Dame recorded its highest finish ever -- fourth place -- in the Jessop-Whittier Cup race at the San Diego Crew Classic.
A record three rowers from the varsity eight crew earned All-America recognition by the CRCA that was highlighted by Polk becoming the second rower in the program's history to earn first-team honors. In addition to Polk, Sarah Palandech and Julie Sobolewski garnered second-team honors.
Five rowers (the most in school history) earned CRCA All-Central Region honors, including four first team honorees. Polk was a first-team selection for the second consecutive year, while Palandech, Sobolewski and Romano copped first-team for the first time in their careers. Melissa Felker rounded out the list as a second-team selection.
In 2004-05 Notre Dame won its second straight BIG EAST title by winning four of six events.
The Irish enjoyed one of its best showings at the Central/South Region Championships with a seventh-place finish (its highest to date at the time). Polk became the first Notre Dame freshman to earn All-America honors as a second-team honoree and also was the first rookie to garner All-Central Region firstteam honors.
Notre Dame's 2003-04 season seemed to set the stage for the success of the past three seasons. Following three consecutive second- place finishes, Notre Dame copped its first-ever team title at the BIG EAST Rowing Challenge by winning four of five race titles, tying the conference record for individual crowns.
The Irish varsity eight crew made an appearance in the NCAA Championships for the second time in school history and earned an 11th-place finish. Notre Dame also finished 16th in the final CRCA/US Rowing.
The 2003-04 campaign saw Natalie Ladine earn first-team CRCA All-America honors as she became the second rower in school history to earn All-America accolades. Ladine and Alice Bartek garnered All-Central Region honors as well.
Although the Irish did not advance to the NCAA Championships in 2003, there were still many firsts in the program during that 2002- 03 campaign as the second varsity four won its first-ever gold medal at the Central Regional Championships. Notre Dame also won three gold medals (the most up to that point) at the BIG EAST regatta as the Irish won the second varsity eight, the varsity four and the second varsity four. Notre Dame defeated top teams such as Michigan, Iowa, Tennessee and Clemson throughout the season and finished just out of the top 20.
Ashlee Warren and Ladine earned CRCA All-Central Region accolades, while Warren also became the first rower in Irish history to win the BIG EAST/Aéropostale Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year and was a semifinalist for an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.
In 2001-02, Stone, one of six finalists for coach-of-the-year honors, led the Irish to one of their best seasons as the Irish earned a final ranking of 13th after being ranked as high as ninth at one point in the campaign. The Irish also earned their first-ever invitation to the national regatta, placing 16th at the NCAA Rowing Championships in the varsity eight.
The Irish finished the 2000-01 season ranked 16th nationally. The varsity eight took fifth and the second varsity eight claimed sixth at the 2001 Central Regions, while the second varsity four was fourth in its final, and the varsity four won the petite title at the same event.
Other highlights of the campaign included the varsity eight winning the Head of the Elk, its first such victory in a regatta of that magnitude, and five other races during the spring. The Irish received an invitation and placed sixth in the Jessop-Whittier Cup at the prestigious San Diego Crew Classic.
Stone also coached Warren and Michelle Olsgard to CRCA all-region honors in 2001. Leah Ashe became the first Irish rower to earn CoSIDA Academic All-America honors when she was named to the women's at-large second team.
Stone's second season saw dramatic improvement from his squad that boasted the talents of Katrina Ten Eyck, one of the top rowers in the nation. Ten Eyck, who garnered CRCA all-region honors, was invited to train at the United States Olympic Training Center.
In 1998-99, Stone sent the program off to a rousing start and quickly put Notre Dame on the map as he led the lightweight eight vessel to a No. 12 national ranking.
Before his arrival at Notre Dame, Stone spent five years as the women's rowing coach at the United States Naval Academy, where he began his coaching career.
In 1994, Stone coached the Mids to a varsity eight title at the Champion International Collegiate Rowing Championships. Navy not only earned the title, but also was awarded the prestigious Anita DeFrantz Trophy for overall performance by women's crews at the Champion International Regatta.
Two years prior in 1992, Stone directed the Mids' varsity eight to its first gold medal at the Dad Vail Regatta, the East Coast's largest crew regatta. The second varsity eight also won a gold medal at the Dad Vail with the team winning the Seitz Trophy for overall team performance by women's crews.
The next season, Navy swept all of the races at the Patriot League Championships. The first novice boat also achieved success for Stone in 1993, by placing first at the Champion International Collegiate Regatta.
Stone's fifth and final year at the helm of the Navy crew program marked a new era for the program. The Midshipmen joined the prestigious Eastern Association of Women's Rowing Colleges (EAWRC), which includes schools such as Brown, Princeton and Virginia. In the team's first season in the EAWRC, the first varsity placed third in the third-level finals, while the second varsity won the third-level finals at the EAWRC Championships.
Prior to taking over Navy's women's program, Stone served as the Mids plebe lightweight coach in 1991. He also was an assistant rowing coach at his alma mater, Saint Mary's College in Moraga, California, in 1990, working with both the men's and women's programs and more specifically, with the varsity and novice women.
Stone began his rowing career at Saint Mary's College as an undergraduate. With the Gaels, he was named the most valuable oarsman three years and went on to earn three letters, two in the heavyweight boat and one in the lightweight boat.
Stone graduated from Saint Mary's with a Bachelor of Arts degree in an integral major. He and his wife, Amy, are the parents of two sons -- Jack and Noah.