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Winsor Endows the Lisa Stone Chair for Crew

On Thursday, September 28, 2023 Winsor endowed the Lisa Stone Chair for Crew at American Legion Hall - Marsh Post 442 in Cambridge. It represents the first time in Winsor’s history that an endowed chair will support a head coaching role. “In naming this chair, we honor a legend,” said Head of School Sarah Pelmas.

When longtime Winsor crew coach Lisa Stone P’03 retired in 2022, the Afeyan sisters—Armine Afeyan ’08, Taleen Afeyan ’10, and Lena Afeyan ’13, who all rowed with Coach Stone—established the chair in commemoration of her retirement and 24-year coaching legacy at Winsor. “This chair cements rowing's place in Winsor's future,” shared the Afeyan sisters. “Years of full-team NEIRA wins (and dock jumps!) are a testament to the team-first culture [Coach Stone] instilled in the program. We are excited to see future generations of fast, smart athletes rowing on ever more competitive, diverse Winsor crews.”

The formal description of the chair designates that income from the endowed fund will provide the salary for Winsor’s head crew coach to support a rowing program that is as diverse as it is competitive. This fund secures the strength of the crew program into the future, building upon Coach Stone’s inimitable legacy at Winsor. 

Addressing the crowd, Pelmas elaborated on Coach Stone’s record, her rowing pedigree, and her impact as a coach and teacher.

At Winsor, Coach Stone and her crews won the NEIRA Team Trophy eight times, the NEIRA First Fours race three times, and US Youth Rowing National Championship four times. She coached four Head of the Charles gold medals in the Youth Fours, and two gold medals in the Youth Eights. And of course, one Henley victory, whose legendary jackets are still at Winsor. 

Coach Stone began her rowing career in California, competed in the 1976 Montreal Olympics in the quad, and then won bronze medals in the World Championships in 1977 and 1978 in the double, as well as the Championship Single at the Head of the Charles in 1977. All told, she raced for the National Team for six years from 1974 through 1979. In 1980, she moved to Boston to start her coaching career at Radcliffe, and pursue an MFA at the Museum School. She paused coaching while raising her children and then came back to rowing and ultimately to Winsor in 1999.

“Generations of rowers at Winsor learned rowing—yes—but…they [also] learned to deal with surprises, to rise above defeat, to trust themselves and their bodies, to push harder than they thought they could, and to work as a team,” emphasized Pelmas. 

An avid rower herself, Pelmas offered an athlete’s perspective on the meaning of the endowed chair. “We also honor the women who have grown up through rowing at Winsor. This program has been life-changing for generations of our students, has given them a sense of their own power, a realization of what can happen when you are part of a team, a regular encounter with this beautiful river and the natural world, experience managing disappointment, the daily exercise that helps them manage the stress of school and life, and the very real thrill of winning.”

Coach Stone was presented with a plaque, which now hangs in the Winsor Belmont Hill Boat House, and shared a few thoughts with the gathered crowd. Offering words of gratitude, she emphasized “the transformative power of the crew program for generations of Winsor rowers.” Coach Stone’s final season with Winsor was certainly memorable—Winsor’s Youth Four won the 2022 US Youth Rowing National Championship in Sarasota, Florida. It was the fourth US Youth Rowing National Championship in school history and the first since 2003.

Director of Rowing Maura Flanagan thanked Coach Stone and the Afeyan family for the honor of being the first holder of The Lisa Stone Chair for Crew. “It has been an exciting year leading up to this and I am so grateful for this opportunity.” Coach Flanagan took the helm during the 2022–2023 school year and led the team to early success—every boat took a trip to the medal dock at NEIRAs and the 1V went on to Nationals, ultimately placing fifth in the nation. “I knew that stepping into Lisa’s shoes would be an almost impossible task, but the Winsor student athletes that make up the current rowing team made it smooth sailing, or rowing,” shared Coach Flanagan. 

Talking about the future, Coach Flanagan noted that Winsor rowers are “committed to success, they are committed to each other, and they are committed to loving the sport as much as the Winsor rowers that came before them. I cannot describe how proud I am of them or how thankful I am that I get to work with Winsor student athletes every day.”

With the inception of the Lisa Stone Chair for Crew, the full crew community was invited to participate in a collective challenge to create an additional endowed fund to support the equipment and needs of the Winsor crew program. Once the community meets or exceeds $250,000 to establish the Winsor Crew Equitable Experience Fund, it will be invested with the Winsor endowment to support the program into the future and in perpetuity. Notably, securing equipment needs and to help eliminate financial barriers for participation, creating an increasingly inclusive crew community at Winsor.

“We hope to gather here again soon to celebrate the successful creation of this important companion fund,” shared Head of School Sarah Pelmas.

Those interested in contributing to the Winsor Crew Equitable Experience Fund may contact Director of Advancement Erika McMahon at emcmahon@winsor.edu.