UW hires Bryans to lead women's crew program

Former Michigan State head coach replaces Maren LaLiberty, who resigned in February

MADISON, Wis.—For the second time this month, Wisconsin has raided Michigan State's leadership ranks to fill a women's head coaching position.

Last time, it was Jim Stintzi, who will serve as the new women's cross country and track coach. Friday morning Wisconsin announced that it had hired Bebe Bryans and she will oversee the women's openweight and lightweight rowing teams.

Bryans replaces former head coach and women's crew director Maren LaLiberty, who resigned in February. Former Wisconsin coach Sue Ela finished the spring season as Wisconsin's interim director and led the school's lightweight varsity eight to its first national championship. Since 2001, the lightweight eight has not finished lower than third at the national championships.

Bryans aims to continue the growth of Wisconsin's rowing programs, which already have great traditions, she said.

"Wisconsin rowing is a huge tradition and women's rowing especially and has a long and fabulous history," Bryans said. "I just look forward to having the opportunity to grow with this program, to take the program to the heights I believe it can achieve and I'm very excited to be a part of it."

Bryans, who was selected from a pool of 60 applicants, has spent most of her career developing programs around the country for a sport that is still quite young. Her main coaching positions at the collegiate levels were at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., Georgetown University and, most recently Michigan State. She has experience building programs and maintaining programs that were already flourishing. The situation she will face at Wisconsin will be similar to that of Georgetown University, which, like Wisconsin, already had a nationally-recognized crew program.

"Going back one stop to Georgetown University, there was another program with a tradition, so I do have some experience with that," Bryans said. "I think I'm going to be able to use all of my experience now."

Bryans coached at Georgetown from 1992-97, where she lead the Hoyas' varsity eight boat to the first NCAA Women's Rowing Championships in 1997. She arrived at Michigan State in 1997, ready to create a new team from scratch. The team she built had had at least one boat in each NCAA championship during her tenure, including a varsity eight boat that finished fourth in 2002, and she led the Spartans to five team appearances at the championships. Bryans was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2000 and 2003, and has coached two conference freshmen of the year (2001 and 2003) and one Big Ten athlete of the year (2002).

UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez was impressed with her previous success and her driven personality and was "thrilled to welcome Bebe to the Badger coaching family."

"The thing that impressed me so much, I walked out of my interview with her and I told my staff, ‘I think I just interviewed a football coach,' Alvarez said. "You talk about someone that has a plan, someone that knows how to motivate, someone who knows how to get the job done and has confidence, it was very evident to me that there was a reason why she was successful and that was just what I was looking for in someone in this position."

Bryans will focus on teamwork in maintaining a high level of competition at Wisconsin. She has visions for the teams and a clear-cut coaching style with which she will implement her plans.

"I like to be really collaborative in coming up with what the final vision is, what the goals are that we want to accomplish, and then being very clear with what it will take to get that done and very well planned out in the steps that will be necessary to get that done," Bryans said. "That's my job and within that, it's really important to me that … every person is part of this effort."

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