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John Pearce is the first-ever head coach of the Colonials' sailing program, which was elevated from club to varsity status beginning in 2012-13. In just his third year at the helm of the new varsity program in 2014-15, he guided the Colonials to a historic season of firsts - including the team's first-ever appearances in the national coed and women's rankings, as well as the team's first-ever berth to women's nationals, where the GW women finished 13th in the country.
Prior to coming to GW, Coach Pearce spent three seasons from 2007-10 as co-head coach of the Dartmouth University varsity sailing team.
"John came to GW with the right blend of what we value most in our head coaches, and that is a proven history of winning and athletic excellence at other universities with sterling academic reputations like George Washington," said GW Director of Athletics and Recreation Patrick Nero. "He is highly regarded in the sailing world and we're confident in John's ability to guide GW Sailing from the elite club team that it was into a team that can achieve considerable success nationally in the varsity ranks."
In his three years at Dartmouth, Coach Pearce led the Big Green to two appearances at the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) National Championships, including an eighth place finish at the 2009 Women's National Championship. During Coach Pearce's tenure, Dartmouth's women's sailing team peaked at No. 7 in Sailing World's varsity rankings, while the Big Green's co-ed team reached No.16 in the nation.
"I am really looking forward to leading the George Washington sailing team at such an exciting time in the program's history," said Coach Pearce. "With the transition to varsity status, we will be raising our sights toward being one of the best teams in the country. It will take a whole lot of hard work, but from now on the sky is the limit."
A 2004 graduate of Hobart College, Coach Pearce stayed on as an assistant coach for Hobart and William Smith Colleges for the 2004-05 season and helped the Statesmen and Herons claim the National Championship at both the ICSA Team Racing and ICSA Coed National Championships that year.
Coach Pearce moved on to spend a year as assistant coach at Stanford University in 2005-06 under the tutelage of U.S. Sailing's 2010 Development Coach of the Year Jay Kehoe. During his year at Stanford, Coach Pearce was responsible for practice and regatta coaching and player development, and helped the Cardinal to the Pacific Coast Team Race and Women's Championships. Coach Pearce then spent 2006-07 as Head High School and Race Team Coach at the San Francisco Yacht Club.
A native of Ithaca, N.Y., Coach Pearce was a two-time All-American at Hobart, earning First Team Coed Skipper accolades as a senior and Honorable Mention Coed Skipper recognition as a junior. He led Hobart to a second place finish in the 2004 ICSA Team Race North American Championship and a third place finish in the 2004 ICSA Dinghy North American Championship. In his final two seasons with the Statesmen, he helped the team produce exceptional results in qualifying for four of the ICSA's six North American championships, including three runner-up finishes.
Coach Pearce was also a member of the 2005 and 2006 U.S. Sailing Teams, and placed fifth out of 33 sailors at the 2007 U.S. Sailing Olympic Team Trials in the Laser Class sailboat.