An Olympic medalist and former U.S. Rowing Coach of the Year, John Pescatore has set Yale on a new course since being named head coach on August 28, 2002. The heavyweights have moved back into the upper echelon of Ivy League rowing and regained prominence on the national stage. The overall performance of the program has improved every year in Pescatore's tenure, culminating in 2006-07, as the heavyweights completed an undefeated dual racing season, combined with a silver medal at the Eastern Sprints Championship, a bronze medal at the Head of the Charles in the Championship Eight (the US National team finished first) and a gold medal at the Princeton Chase Regatta. And to cap off the year, the Yale heavyweights defeated Harvard in their annual 4-mile contest in what newspapers have called "the greatest comeback in the history of the regatta." Four oarsmen from the 2007 Yale crews, all recruited by Pescatore, were invited to compete for seats on the US National Team for the Under-23 World Championships.
In the year prior to coming to Yale, Pescatore was an assistant coach at the University of Pennsylvania and Head Coach of the Elite Program at Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia, preparing athletes for International and Olympic rowing teams. In 2000, Pescatore served as assistant coach for the United States Olympic Team and coached the men's coxless pair to a Silver medal at Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. The men's pair was the top performing American crew in Sydney, and for his efforts, Pescatore was named the 2000 U.S. Rowing Coach of the Year.
In the seven years before coaching at the Olympics, Pescatore was Head Coach at St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco. Pescatore's crews earned medals in the varsity eight for seven consecutive years at the Southwest Regional Championships, winning three times, and also winning the National Championship in 1997. Prior to coming to St. Ignatius he was the men's freshmen coach at Stanford University from 1988 to 1991.
As an oarsman, Pescatore won a Bronze Medal in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea, as stroke for the American heavyweight eight. He was also the stroke for the heavyweight pair without coxswain which placed sixth in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. In addition, Pescatore stroked the heavyweight eight which captured the Gold Medal at the 1987 World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, setting a new world record in the process. In 1986, as Captain at the University of Pennsylvania, Pescatore stroked the Varsity Eight to the Eastern Sprints Championship, snapping a 31-year drought at the Sprints and putting Penn back on the map of Ivy League and national rowing. That same year, Pescatore's crew earned gold at the San Diego Crew Classic and set a new course record which still stands today, 21 years later. Pescatore began his rowing career at Holy Spirit High School in southern New Jersey, rowing 6-seat in the undefeated varsity eight his senior year, winning both the prestigious Stotesbury Cup and National Championship regattas.