John Leonard started rowing in 1984 at Fordham University just after watching rowing for the first time in the LA Olympics. He took to the sport with great passion and worked to make the varsity 4+ in his first year. He then transferred to UConn to start his second year of school and discovered there was no rowing program there, he started one. After finding other very interested people he found some land, a couple of boats, a coach, raised money for a boathouse and away they went.
After graduating in 1989 he stayed in the area and coached the UConn program until 1992 then moved down to the Fairfield and New Haven areas. He then coached at Fairfield University (mens program) and Fairfield Prep over the next few years before discovering Saugatuck Rowing in 1998. There he coached the Juniors and Masters programs until becoming Head Coach of the Masters program in 2003. Over the next seven years the Saugatuck Masters won the National Championship 6 of the next 7 years.
In 2010 he left Saugatuck to pursue his dream to have his own rowing club and in 2011, Great River Rowing began. Over the last decade he has built a strong, educated, and competitive based program for both Juniors and Masters and continues to grow and prosper.
Head Juniors Coach
Holly has been the Senior Assistant Junior coach with Great River Rowing since 2018. Prior to coming to Great River, Holly served four years as Director of the Yale Community Rowing Program and head coach of YCR since 2002.
Throughout this time, she remains committed and passionate about developing new opportunities to introduce children throughout the community to the sport of rowing. When asked about her first rowing memory, Holly explains, “I remember babysitting for a family during high school and the mother had participated in crew while in college. She had a picture hanging on the wall of her team racing. There was something so amazing about that level of teamwork and intensity…I knew I wanted to try that!”
Holly is a 2001 graduate of Skidmore College, where she was the Varsity Women's coxswain for three years, team captain for two years, and team MVP award winner. During her senior year, her boat was ranked 5th nationally in NCAA Div. III polls.
A native of Monroe, CT she now resides in Southbury with her husband and three children, and works in Oxford as Vice President at PRO Scientific Inc.
Head Masters Coach