SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. – Former Mount Holyoke College rower and assistant coach, Tessa Spillane '95 made history last Saturday, guiding the Wellesley College crew team to the 2016 NCAA Division III Women's Rowing National Championship title. The event was held at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center on Lake Natoma.
The Blue used a gold medal finish in the Varsity Eight Grand Final and silver medal finish in the Second Varsity Eight Grand Final to claim the program's first national championship and the first NCAA team national championship in school history.
"We are so excited for Tessa and her team! The national championship title is a testament to Tessa's work to build a program of champions," said Lori Hendricks, Director of Athletics and Chair of Physical Education. "At a time when the number of women in coaching is declining, Mount Holyoke continues to produce results-oriented leaders within the field of intercollegiate athletics who lead with passion, integrity, and a commitment to athletics' value within higher education. We look forward to celebrating Tessa and all our other champions of rowing at this fall's 40th anniversary of MHC Rowing."
Spillane is in her 11th season as the head crew coach at Wellesley. During that time, she has guided Wellesley to six consecutive appearances at the NCAA Division III Championships, five consecutive NEWMAC Conference titles and has coached ten All-America honorees. Under Spillane, the 2010-11 Division III National Coach of the Year, Wellesley has been ranked in the top-ten nationally for each of the last six seasons.
The 2008, 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016 NEWMAC Coach of the Year, Spillane also guided the Blue to third place finishes at the NCAA Division III National Championships in 2011, 2012 and 2015. She has also guided Wellesley to seven consecutive Seven Sisters Championship titles.
Spillane came to Wellesley from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon where she served as the Head Coach of Men's and Women's Rowing from 2001 to 2005. Spillane was named Northwest Collegiate Rowing Conference Women's Coach of the Year in 2004.
Prior to Lewis and Clark, Spillane served as the novice coach and varsity assistant coach at Mount Holyoke. While at MHC, Spillane founded a community based rowing program and served as the director and founding coach of Rowing Strong, Rowing Together, serving at-risk, urban youth. Spillane also coached master's women for eleven years as a member of the Row as One coaching staff.
During her collegiate career at MHC, Spillane was a four-year member of the rowing team. In addition to serving as the captain during her senior season, she was a multiple NEWMAC All-Conference selection.
Spillane currently serves as the DII/DIII At-Large Representative to the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Board of Directors. She chairs the Membership Committee and the DII/DIII Awards Selection Committee. Spillane has served on the NCAA DIII Rowing Committee, representing the New England Region from 2009-2011. She previously served on the Board of Directors for USRowing, the national governing body for the sport of rowing in the United States.
An Assistant Professor of Physical Education at Wellesley, Spillane is also certified as a USRowing Level III coach in 1998, Spillane is also a graduate of the NCAA Women Coaches Academy (Indianapolis, 2007).
Spillane earned her Bachelor's degree in History from Mount Holyoke in 1995, and then received her Master's in Exercise and Sport Studies from Smith College in 1999.
Special thanks to Wellesley Sports Information for biographical information. Photo credit of Spillane at this year's Nationals to Elaine Harvey, Wellesley Assistant Director for Development and Communications.