Fran O'Rourke is in her fourth year in 2007-08, serving as the second assistant rowing coach at Indiana University.
O'Rourke has made a profound impact on the Hoosier program in her short time at Indiana. This past season, O'Rourke's second varsity four won Indiana's first ever Big Ten medal in a varsity event, with a third place finish. The crew edged Ohio State by a tenth of a second to make the grand final, and beat the University of Michigan, a crew Indiana had lost to earlier in the year for their only loss of the season.
In 2006, O'Rourke's second season in Bloomington, she directed the second novice eight to a 7-3 record, leading the squad to more than twice the previous school record for wins.
The 2006 second novice eight opened its season with a 2-1 record in its opening weekend and never looked back. O'Rourke directed the second novice eight to wins over Notre Dame, Michigan State, Dayton, Marist and Purdue on the season.
O'Rourke oversees all aspects of the novice program, from attracting athletic prospects off campus, to organizing clinics and running practices for new rowers. She guides the novices from beginning athletes to Division I, Big Ten varsity athletes. The recent bronze medal won by the varsity four in 2007 came from five walk-ons recruited by O'Rourke.
O'Rourke has also contributed to the Hoosier's success on the recruiting trail. She has aided recruiting coordinator Carmen Mirochna in identifying and courting top U.S. talent. These efforts have led to an increase in the size and talent of each IU recruiting class in the past three and a half years, and have greatly added to the Hoosier's success on the water and in the classroom.
Her love of coaching leads to participation in summer rowing camps for high school rowers and novice rowers, with stops including the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Prior to joining the IU program in August 2004, O'Rourke spent two seasons as the women's intern rowing coach at her alma mater, Cornell University.
O'Rourke's first year of coaching saw her first varsity four emerge victorious against five regular-season competitors and produce a win in the Petite Final at Eastern Sprints. Her second varsity four won seven regular-season races and made the Grand Final at Sprints, placing fourth overall.
In her final year at Cornell, her first varsity four raced its way to a gold medal at Eastern Sprints, finishing four seconds ahead of second place. The crew only lost one race during the season and regularly posted open-water victories. Her second varsity four went undefeated as well, winning the gold at the Eastern Sprints with an amazing cushion of 10 seconds over the rest of the field. During that remarkable season, O'Rourke's crews defeated rowing powerhouses Brown, Princeton, Radcliffe and Yale.
A 2002 graduate of Cornell's animal sciences program, O'Rourke was a member of a turnaround class, leading Cornell to greater success than it had enjoyed since the late 1980s. Her collegiate career started in Cornell's first novice boat, which finished a close fourth in the Grand Finals at Eastern Sprints, just three tenths of a second behind the bronze-medal winning crew. O'Rourke's sophomore year saw her lead the first varsity four, which went undefeated all season and entered Sprints ranked first. It finished the Eastern Sprints as the highest-placing Big Red crew that year, earning a silver medal. The performance also stood as Cornell's first Sprints medal in years. The next two seasons, she earned two varsity letters rowing in the varsity eight, and secured Cornell's first-ever bid to the NCAA Championships in 2002. A member of the Student Athlete Advisory Council and the Red Key Honor Society, O'Rourke earned co-captain honors from her teammates her senior year and garnered the Big Stick Award from her head coach.
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