The University of Pennsylvania's Head Coach of Women's Rowing, Mike Lane, has announced the hiring of Cassandra Cunningham as his varsity assistant coach. Cunningham's duties will be recruiting, and helping to develop the returning athletes as well as the recruited freshman.
"I am pleased to announce the hiring of Cassandra Cunningham," said Lane, who enters his seventh season as the program's head coach in 2012-13. "She is someone I have known for years, and she is a well-respected coach. Cass will bring a fresh perspective to our program and is someone who comes to us with a very unique background. I can't tell you how excited I am to work with Cass. She will bring a great energy and a wealth of coaching knowledge."
"I am thrilled and honored to become a member of the Penn rowing staff," said Cunningham. "Twenty years ago I trained on the Schuylkill River rowing for Vesper, and I look forward to being back on the river this fall as a Penn coach. Mike's energy is great to be around which makes it very exciting for me to work with him this year. I am looking forward to the opportunity and challenge."
Cunningham has been on the staff of the U.S. Rowing Junior National Team since 2008, and will be an assistant coach for the U.S. team at this year's Junior World Championships which will take place in Plovdiv, Bulgaria from August 15-19. She served as the Junior National Team's Head Development Coach from 2008-11. Cunningham assisted with two teams that won gold medals at the 2012 Youth National Championships, the girls' lightweight 8 and the girls' varsity 8, and she has coached three other boats to silver at the event over the years-as an assistant for the girls' lightweight 8 in 2011 and the girls' varsity 8 in 2010, and as a head coach for the boys' double scull in 2009.
In addition to her work with the national program, Cunningham has been an assistant coach with the Oakland (Calif.) Strokes Rowing Club's varsity girls' program since 2009. Prior to that, from 2002-09, Cunningham was head coach of the boys' rowing program at Juniperro Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif.
Cunningham picked up rowing in college, at Sacramento State, where she won three state championship titles as well as the first Pacific Coast Rowing Championships in the Women's Varsity Eight in 1995. Following her graduation, Cunningham spent three years training with the Women's U.S. Rowing National Team. She is a five-time winner at the U.S. National Elite Championships and a three-time champion in the women's lightweight eight at the Head of the Charles. Cunningham also earned two international silver medals, one in the women's lightweight quad at the 1998 World Rowing Championships and one the 1999 Pan American Games.
Cunningham graduated from Sacramento State in 1996 with a bachelor's degree in physical education, and also holds a Master's degree in Education from the University of Massachusetts. She was an assistant coach with the Minutewomen's varsity rowing program while completing her Master's degree. Cunningham holds certificates from the American Sports and Fitness Association as a personal trainer and also as a group fitness/boot camp instructor.