Fan Friday: Salute To Kevin Sauer

Virginia Cavaliers Kevin Sauer
Virginia rowing coach Kevin Sauer won two National Championships at UVA. ~ Photo courtesy Virginia Athletics Media Relations

The Virginia athletics department counts multiple National Championship coaches among its ranks. That number will be one lighter next season, however, as UVA rowing coach Kevin Sauer announced plans to retire at the end of this season.

Guiding the rowing programs at Virginia since 1988 and the women’s team as a varsity sport since it was elevated to that status in 1995, Sauer has been a fixture and voice of wisdom at the University for parts of five decades. His tenure has led to impressive levels of success, including the 2010 and 2012 National Championships. Overall, the program finished in the top 5 at the NCAA Championships 17 times and 9 individual boats captured National Championships as well.

Additionally, the Hoos have claimed 22 of the 23 ACC regattas, including the last 13 titles. Sauer is a two-time National Coach of the Year and a 14-time ACC Coach of the Year. He has coached 20 rowers that have competed at the World Championships and 9 Olympians, including one at each of the last five Olympiads.

Beyond all the accolades, Sauer also became one of the most respected coaches at Virginia by student-athletes, peers, and administrators. Fans have shown a ton of respect for him as well.

Here are some thoughts shared about his time as a Wahoo both from within the athletics department and beyond.

“There may not be anyone who represents what Virginia athletics stands for more than Kevin Sauer,” Virginia Director of Athletics Carla Williams said in a statement. “For almost 30 years, he has directed our women’s rowing program, ushering it from its infancy to winning National Championships. … He has served as an Olympic coach and been inducted into the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Serving on committees and advisory boards, he has been instrumental in the tremendous growth of the sport. … “Kevin’s proudest accomplish is watching the student-athletes he coached go on to do amazing things in their communities, including more than 40 who are now doctors. Kevin himself has been a tremendous contributor in our community, working as a volunteer for Meals on Wheels for 18 years. Kevin is a shining example of what can be accomplished with hard work and grit. His career, and the way he has approached coaching, is a tremendous example for anyone to follow.”

“I admire Kevin Sauer so much,” UVA men’s basketball coach Tony Bennett said in a statement. “He’s one of the best that’s ever done it. Every coach hopes for the ability to walk away and say ‘I did it my way, I did it the right way’ and look in the mirror and say ‘I have no regrets because of how I conducted my program.’ Kevin was so gracious to me when I got here 15 years ago. He is a fierce competitor who loves basketball. He’s the kind of coach you would want your own children to be influenced by.”

“I feel incredibly fortunate to have had Kevin as an advisor over the years, especially in the early days of my coaching career,” Cavalier men’s soccer coach George Gelnovatch said. “For many of us coaches, Kevin was a perfect example of uncompromised excellence. He is a fierce competitor, gifted coach, and most importantly, a wonderful human being.”

“You made me the CEO and Mom I am today. Thank you! We love you,” Jodi Neuhauser, former UVA rower and current Women’s Health Founder, Leader & CEO wrote on Instagram.

“Not a Hoo but here to say Kevin is one of the biggest hearts and most genuine souls in our sport – thank you for all the exceptional teammates you sent my way Coach Sauer. An incredible legacy!” Megan Kalmoe, four-time US Olympian wrote on Instagram.

“The person who showed me that it is possible to coach at a high-end collegiate program and achieve great results and get the most out of one’s athletes, all while caring deeply about them as people and staying true to one’s moral values and convictions. My biggest inspiration in coaching and truly a legend of the sport!” San Diego rowing coach Bart Thompson wrote on Instagram.

“Kevin is a community treasure and, thanks in great part to his unwavering leadership, his UVA student athletes have been wonderful neighbors throughout his tenure. Thanks for the great memories, Kevin!” Ragged Mountain Running Shop’s Mark Lorenzoni wrote on Instagram.

“An absolute legend in the rowing world. I rowed for an opposing university and this man still always watched out for me and showed incredible kindness and sportsmanship,” former Miami rower Katie Guest wrote on Instagram.

“Heard him speak to a group once. He was so engaging and funny. He held everyone’s interest. Amazing what he accomplished. Such a legacy. He said he often looked for athletics who had not rowed and made them rowers. Hope he has a great retirement. Well earned,” Sabre message board poster duvhoo wrote on the site.

“Phenomenal career. He has won a higher percentage of ACC championships than UNC women’s soccer has. Total domination. Hope he enjoys his retirement,” Sabre message board poster sabrex wrote on the site.

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