Robert J. Rothenberg '65
Year Inducted: 2000
One of the most respected names in Eastern track, Bob Rothenberg retired on July 1, 2000 after serving 17 years as the head men’s and women’s track & field and cross country coach. He left Brown as the most successful track and cross country coach in its history, with his athletes setting more than 100 University records. During his 17 years on College Hill, he impressed Brown with his dedication to student-athletes, his knowledge of the sport, and his high energy level.
Rothenberg brought a sense of excitement to the sport when Brown needed it so desperately. This excitement was never more evident that in 1992 when the women’s indoor track and field team, under Rothenberg’s coaching, captured its first Heptagonal Championship in the team’s 40 year history. All told, since that initial Heps title, the Brown women have gone on to capture 11 Heps titles in the last eight years, including the last three consecutive outdoor championships.
The men’s track and cross country teams have also enjoyed remarkable success under Rothenberg. Since 1994, those two squads have won six New England Championships, while the men’s cross country team has qualified for 3 NCAA Championships in the last 13 years, placing 9th in 1987, 13th in 1992, and 18th in 1997. Rothenberg’s women’s cross country teams have reaped the benefits of his coaching as well. They recently finished the 1999 season as the Heptagonal Champions and went on to finish 9th at the NCAA Championships.
Not only did the teams excel in their sport, but they excelled in the classroom, something Rothenberg always stressed. Both of the 1999 cross country teams qualified for the U.S. Cross Country Coaches Association “All-Academic Cross Country Team.” The men earned it with a cumulative 3.04 grade point average, and the women earned its award “with Distinction,” as they posted a 3.25 grade point average.
With a legend like Rothenberg at the helm, there are always going to be some great individual performances on a team. He guided many Brown athletes to numerous accolades and national recognition. Trinity Gray ’00, possibly Rothenberg’s best-ever track athlete, finished second in the 1999 NCAA Indoor 800m and fourth in the same event in 2000. He was ranked fifth in the world in the 800, and represented the U.S. in the Pan American Junior Games, the Goodwill Games, and the World University Games.
Olympic athletes who ran under Rothenberg were Susan Smith ’93, a 15-time Heptagonal Champion who represented Ireland in the 1996 Games in Atlanta, and Mark Thompson ’89, who represented Jamaica in the Barcelona Games in 1992.