Terhaar leaves USRowing

USRowing's Women's Head Coach joins Columbia University

3 minute read
Words Tom Ransley
Photography Benedict Tufnell and Dan Brauchli
Published 16.12.21

Terhaar joins Columbia University as their Director of Rowing and ends a two-decade stint as the US women’s head coach. During his tenure he helped the US win 17 world championship gold medals, five Olympic medals, including three successive golds in the eight, for a total of 37 world and Olympic medals.

“I am extremely excited to take on this new challenge with the student-athletes, coaches, administration, and the alumni of Columbia University,” Terhaar said. “I look forward to continuing the proud tradition of Columbia’s achievements while helping to build new successes in the future.”

Photo Terhaar coaching the US women during training camp in Chula Vista earlier this year
Credit Dan Brauchli

Terhaar coached the US women’s eight to an unprecedented winning streak from 2006 to 2016, securing 11 consecutive world and Olympic titles. Tokyo 2020 was the first Olympics since Sydney 2000 that saw the US miss the medals.

“While I did not have much time with Tom since beginning in my role last year, I enjoyed the opportunity to meet him and know that he will be missed,” said USRowing CEO Amanda Kraus. “We certainly wish him all the best in his new role at Columbia and hope our paths cross on the Harlem River.” 

Photo The US women’s eight during the 2019 season.
Credit Benedict Tufnell

Columbia is not entirely unfamiliar territory. Terhaar was the lightweight men’s coach at Columbia University for five years before joining USRowing as their women’s head coach in 2001. However, there were whispers that Terhaar might move north and lead Rowing Canada Aviron.

Famed for his success with the US women’s eight Terhaar also delivered beyond the big boat. He coached the women’s pair to gold in 2009, silver in 2014 and 2017, and bronze in 2010 and 2015. His women’s quad crews won a gold medal in 2015, silver medals in 2009 and 2011, and bronze medals in 2012 and 2014. Following the success of his eight and pair at the 2009 World Rowing Championships, he was named World Rowing Coach of the Year.

Photo The US women’s eight, showing off their Olympic gold medals in 2012
Credit Benedict Tufnell

“I still dream – quite literally – of a nod and a “good job” from… Tom Terhaar. And in those rare instances where my sleeping mind grants me my wish, my entire next day is made: I float through my waking hours utterly certain of my capability.” Double Olympic champion Caryn Davies on Tom Terhaar’s coaching style as found in her article in Issue 22 of Row360.

Terhaar coached at six consecutive Olympics. Prior to his time as head coach Terhaar was an assistant coach for the US national team from 1994 to 2000. At the Sydney 2000 Olympics he coached the women’s quadruple sculls to a fifth-place finish.

Terhaar rowed collegiately at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a degree in English. He is married to nine-time national team member and two-time Olympian, Jennifer Dore-Terhaar.