Following two years under interim head coaches, North Carolina Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham announced in July that former UNC all-American rower, Erin Neppel, would be the third head coach in the program's history.
Neppel came to UNC from the University of Virginia, where she worked as an assistant coach and helped the Cavaliers to three consecutive ACC titles. She is no stranger to success in rowing and coaching, and after training under her guidance for the fall semester, the Tar Heels are beginning to see the impact of her mentality.
“Erin really showed us what our program should be about, and we worked really hard the entire season,” senior Sarah Catherine Niles said. “It was such a new feeling because we had never had that stability before and her points of view on things gave us new life in rowing.”
Under Neppel’s guidance, the Tar Heels took the fall semester as a building season and only attended one race, the Rivanna Romp, in mid-November. With the new coaching staff taking over, she was focused on each rower getting acclimated to the changes and staying focused on what was in front of them.
The goal of the team's sole race in the fall was to shrink the time margins against teams the Tar Heels had previously competed against, and the early results were promising.
“They did (shrink the margins) really well,” Neppel said. “They succeeded, we called it a win, but we had to keep moving forward because the fall race was fun, but the real work has been done over the winter and spring.”