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
Previous College: Penn 1957
Experience: 51 Seasons

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

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

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

In 2012, Parker was also awarded the Harvard Medal for extraordinary service to the university. The Harvard Medal recognizes extraordinary service from teaching, leadership, and innovation to fundraising, administration, and volunteerism.

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

The rate of success has continued throughout his time. Parker's Harvard varsities have won three Intercollegiate Rowing Association national championships since 2003.

In his final season, the Crimson varsity eight finished second in the nation. The Crimson finished fourth as a team at the IRA National Championships, with the varsity eight earning a silver medal, after capturing its fourth straight Rowe Cup at the EARC Sprints. Harvard was again unbeaten in the regular season and finished either first or second in each event it entered. 

The 2011 campaign was one of the best in Crimson history. The varsity, second varsity and freshman eights won Sprints titles and IRA medals, including a runner-up varsity finish. Each boat was also undefeated during the regular season, as Harvard did not lose a dual race in which it entered an eight. Five athletes capped the year with a win in the Prince Albert Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta. Following that season, Parker was awarded the USRowing Medal, given to the member of the rowing community who has accomplished extraordinary feats in rowing. It is the highest honor USRowing can bestow.

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

The 2006 campaign saw the Crimson varsity win its seventh straight over rival Yale, while the second varsity rowed an undefeated season claiming gold at the Eastern Sprints and IRAs.

The latest run of unparalleled success was the most recent addition to Parker's already-impressive resume, as the varsity entered the spring of 2006 having won 24 consecutive dual matches covering 32 opponents. Parker's 2005 varsity continued the remarkable run by capturing a third straight gold medal at both Eastern Sprints and the IRA National Championship, retaining the Ten Eyck Trophy for overall heavyweight supremacy at IRAs, as well as a sixth consecutive victory over Yale.

Parker kept Harvard at the forefront of the rowing landscape, as his 2004 eight drew comparison with some of the top crews in Crimson lore and was mentioned among the top collegiate varsities ever fielded. That boat finished its third consecutive undefeated dual season, won sprints gold for the second-straight year, successfully defended its IRA National Championship and capped the season with impressive displays in international competition. Racing as the second U.S. entry in Lucerne at the World Cup Regatta, Parker's varsity finished sixth overall in a competition loaded with Olympic entries, finishing ahead of the Olympic eights of both France and Great Britain and just under two lengths behind the U.S. Olympic boat which would claim gold in Athens later that summer. At Henley, the Crimson again challenged itself against the stiffest competition, eventually falling in the finals of the Grand Challenge Cup - usually reserved for top international competition—by two-thirds of a length to the Dutch, the eventual silver medalists in Athens.

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

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

Under Parker, Harvard crews also raced against the world's best and achieved amazing success. The 2004 trip to Lucerne continued an amazing tradition, as Harvard also won the 1965 Lucerne International Regatta, was a close second at the 1967 world championships, won the 1967 Pan American Games and captured the 1968 U.S. Olympic trials before taking sixth in the Games at Mexico City. His crews have also recorded several wins at the Nile Festival Regatta in Egypt. Additionally, Parker-coached Harvard oarsmen have rowed at every Olympic Games over the past four decades.

From 1964 in Tokyo until 1984 in Los Angeles, Parker regularly coached U.S. Olympic crews, leading both men's and women's entries to strong finishes. He coached the first U.S. women's eight to compete in the world championships, earning a silver medal in 1975. Parker later coached the U.S. women's eight to a 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 Moscow Olympics. In 1985, he coached single sculler Andy Sudduth '83-85 to an astonishing performance in the World Rowing Championships, during which Sudduth finished second and defeated four-time world champion Peter Michael Kolbe of Germany.

Six former Parker's oarsmen have competed in the last two Olympic Games. Artour Samsonov '02 (pair), Wolf Moser '98 (four) and Henry Nuzum '99 (double scull) rowed in Athens at the 2004 Games, while, Malcolm Howard '05 (eight) and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss '04 (pair) competed in Beijing. All three rowers in 2008 advanced to the grand finals of their respected races, with Howard and the Canadian rowing to gold. Among the other Olympians he has coached are 1984 silver medalist Sudduth, who rowed in the eight at Los Angeles, and Jack Rusher '89, a member of the 1988 U.S. eight that won bronze in Seoul. Richard Kennelly '87 won a silver medal at those same 1988 Games. Rusher also rowed at the '92 Games in Barcelona, where he was joined by Peter Sharis '90 and Chris Swan '90. Adam Holland '94 competed at the 1996 Atlanta Games, and there were three Crimson heavyweight oarsmen at the 2000 Games: Nick Peterson '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 summer of 2005 alone, five Crimson heavyweight oarsmen competed in the World Under-23 Championships in Amsterdam, including two from his national champion varsity.

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