A proven winner in the rowing community, Leeanne Crain has brought immediate success to the University of Oklahoma rowing program. Named the program's first head coach in 2008, it took just five years for Crain and the Sooners to be crowned conference champions and reach the NCAA Rowing Championship, repeating the feats again in 2014 in the program's sixth season.
Crain has led the Sooners from a first-year program to a national contender. A five-time conference Coach of the Year at OU, she was named the CRCA South Region Coach of the Year in 2013. Under Crain, eight Oklahoma rowers have been named to CRCA All-Region teams and OU earned its first Elite 89 Award winner across all sports at the 2013 NCAA Championships.
A graduate of UCLA and a member of the U.S. National Team in 1988, Crain came to OU after four seasons at the University of Central Florida. She was previously the head coach at the University of San Diego for 10 years.
In 2015-16, the Sooners earned second place at the Big 12 Championship for the second consecutive season, and junior Maegan Neihart was named Big 12 Rower of the Year, the fourth such award in just eight years as a program.
In 2013-14, Crain led OU to its second straight sweep of the Big 12 and C-USA titles, earning both conference's Coach of the Year awards. The Sooners again qualified for the NCAA Championship were they finished No. 19 overall. The 1V8 also won both conference titles led by senior Kristin Clift, a CRCA All-Region selection and both the Big 12 and C-USA Rower of the Year. OU rowers took home a total of 12 All-Conference honors.
The 2013 season was one for the record books. The Sooners won their first Big 12 and Conference USA titles and earned their first NCAA Championship appearance. Crain was named both the Big 12 and C-USA Coach of the Year and the CRCA South Region Coach of the Year. In the two conference championships, six boats won league titles and OU's Nikki Furmanek was named the Rower of the Year in both the Big 12 and C-USA. At the NCAA Championship, the Sooners capped off the year with a No. 17 finish.
The 2012 season saw OU finish second at the Big 12 Championship by just one point and third at the Conference USA Championship. The varsity eight capped a perfect season against Big 12 competition with a first-place finish at the Big 12 Championship in Oklahoma City. At the Conference USA Championship, the novice eight won their event, as Crain's third recruiting class was named conference champions. The varsity eight earned Boat of the Week honors twice and the Big 12 Boat of the Month award once. No other team earned more than two conference honors that season.
During the 2011 season, the Sooners continued to show growth, finishing second at the Big 12 Championship and third at the Conference USA Championship. At the Longhorn Invitational, OU's varsity eight defeated Iowa, Louisville, and UCF; losing only one race to Wisconsin by a narrow margin. The San Diego Crew Classic was highlighted by a third place finish in the varsity four and a varsity eight win over no. 14 ranked UCLA in the petite final of the prestigious Jessop-Whittier Cup.
OU completed its third season with numerous academic and athletic honors. Fourteen athletes were named to the Big 12 All-Academic At-Large Team, six athletes named to the Big 12 All-Academic First Team, and two earned Big 12 All-Academic Second Team honors. The team also had 12 Conference USA Academic Medalists and 10 CRCA National Scholar-Athletes. Nicole Furmanek and Kelsey Witten, both from the varsity eight, were selected to the Capital One Academic All-District Team. Three athletes earned C-USA All-Academic team recognition and two were named to the C-USA All-Conference team. In addition, Witten and Furmanek received the Gerald Lage Academic Achievement Award presented by the Big 12.
In the program's second year, Crain led the Sooners to a second-place finish at the Big 12 Championship. Rebecca Staff and Chelsea Moore were named to the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association All-South Region team. Three Sooners earned All-Conference USA honors in 2010.
In the inaugural season of Sooner rowing, OU finished no lower than second in events entered at the first Big 12 Rowing Championship. OU placed fifth in the varsity four and sixth in the novice eight at the NCAA South/Central Region meet.
Under Crain, the Sooner have not only excelled on the water but in the classroom as well. Sophomore Kim Moldenhauer became the first OU student-athlete in any sport to earn the prestigious Elite 89 Award from the NCAA in 2013. In 2012, a nation-high 14 OU rowers were named CRCA Scholar Athletes by the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association. Five rowers have been named to the Academic All-District team and OU is typically among the leaders in academic honors from the conference.
At UCF, Crain developed the Knights into one of the nation's premier programs. During her four seasons, UCF rowers compiled two All-America honors and seven all-region honors, while 20 Knights earned CRCA National Scholar-Athlete recognition, including a nation-leading seven honorees in 2006.
Her 2006-07 team recorded the best season in UCF history, opening the season with nine consecutive victories and earning the school's first NCAA Championships berth. The squad also claimed the overall trophy at the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships and earned UCF's highest all-time national ranking (No. 9) in the US Rowing/ CRCA Coaches Poll.
Crain's 2005-06 varsity eight squad earned the program's first top-20 ranking in the US Rowing/CRCA Coaches Poll and claimed the team's ninth Florida Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship while finishing fourth in its region at the South/Central Regional Championships. The Knights also claimed the program's first All-American in Krystina Sarff.
During the 2004-05 season, Crain's team received its first ranking in the NCAA South Region Poll, won the Petrakis Cup and Metro Cup regattas and won the overall points trophies at the FIRA and SIRA Championships.
In her first season at the helm, UCF's varsity eight team earned a the silver medal at both the FIRA and SIRA Championships, while the lightweight eight finished third at the San Diego Crew Classic and advanced to the finals of the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship.
Not only were Crain's team successful in the competitive realm, they were strong academically. Women's rowing had the highest grade point average of all 17 teams at UCF in 2006. In the fall of 2007, five of the team members carried 4.0 GPAs, while 14 were on the dean's list and 33 of the 44 listed on the varsity roster made athleticdirector's honor roll.
Prior to her arrival at Central Florida, Crain spent 10 seasons as head coach at the University of San Diego, where she was named West Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 1997 and 2003. While at USD, she coached two All-Americans and had two rowers named to the CRCA All-Region Team.
Her student-athletes accounted for 15 All-WCC honors and six Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association all-conference honors. In addition, 16 earned WCC All-Academic distinctions, 13 received CRCA National Scholar-Athlete recognition and two were named All-Americans by the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
At USD, Crain coached 2004 Olympic silver-medalist Ali Cox, a four-time U.S. National Team member who competed in the women's eight at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Crain began her coaching career in 1990 as an assistant coach at UCLA, helping the Bruins to a Pac-10 title.
She joined the UCLA coaching staff after an outstanding four-year career as a member of the Bruins' varsity team from 1985-88. As a senior, Crain was named team captain and was selected to the Pac-10 All-Conference Team.
Crain was a member of the gold medalist women's four at the 1988 Cadbury International Regatta in Australia and was a grand finalist in the women's pair at the 1990 World Championship Trials.
An active member of the rowing community, Crain served on the NCAA Rowing Committee from 2001-05, and has been chair of both the NCAA West (2001-03) and South (2003-07) Regional Advisory Committees. She also served as Vice President of the FIRA from 2003-04, the WIRA Board of Stewards from 2002-03, and the SIRA Board of Directors from 2003-07.
Crain earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from UCLA in 1988. She received her Level III US Rowing Coaching Certification in 2001.