Chris O'Brien has been the head coach of the Philadelphia University women’s rowing team since its inception in 2006.
Under O’Brien’s guidance, the Rams have earned two medals at the Dad Vail Regatta, participated in two NCAA Championships and two Head of the Charles, and produced four Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association All-Americans.
In 2009—the team’s third year of existence—Philadelphia made its first appearance in the NCAA Rowing Championship, picking up a fourth-place finish. A year later, the Rams went back to the NCAA Championship, coming in fourth, and had Magdalena Dzierzanowski and Renee Rosaieski were named All-Americans.
At the Dad Vail Regatta, the Women’s Novice Eight boat claimed the Sara Vaughn Trophy in 2009 and the Varsity Four boat earned a bronze medal in the 2012 DII/III grand final.
The Rams’ Varsity Four boat was the 2012 city championship with a first-place finish in the Kelly Cup.
O'Brien's coaching career began in 2002 at Monsignor Bonner High School in Drexel Hill, Pa., which has a strong rowing tradition of more than 40 years. During his five-year tenure as head freshman coach at Bonner, O'Brien led his crews to more than 15 championship medals including the 2004 Scholastic Rowing Association National Championship.
A 2002 Villanova University graduate, O'Brien was the Wildcats coxswain. He served as captain of the men's team his junior and senior years. During his junior year, O'Brien captured a title at the CRASH-B World Indoor Rowing Championship in Boston.
In 2001, the Wildcats won the Dad Vail Regatta and competed in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships, the oldest collegiate championship in the United States.
Coach O'Brien began his rowing career in 1994 at Monsignor Bonner High School as a coxswain. He spent three years as a coxswain for the Varsity Heavyweight Eight winning races that included the Stotesbury Cup Regatta and the SRA National Championships. For his efforts, O'Brien was invited to the Junior Worlds rowing camp in 1998.
O'Brien is a current member of Malta Boat Club on historic Boathouse Row in Philadelphia, Pa. He currently resides in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia.