After leading UCF to its best season in program history in 2006-07, fifth-year head coach Leeanne Crain continues to develop the Knights' rowing program into one of the premier teams in the country.
In her first season with the Knights, Crain guided the varsity eight to silver medal performances at the Florida Intercollegiate Rowing Association (FIRA) Championship and Southern Intercollegiate Association (SIRA) Championship. The lightweight eight finished third at the San Diego Crew Classic and earned a spot in the grand final of the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Championship. Four athletes received the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) National Scholar-Athlete Award.
In 2004-05, the program continued to rise, kicking off the fall season with a second-place finish in the championship eight race at the Head of the Hooch. In the spring of 2005, UCF received its first team ranking in the NCAA South Region Poll. The team won the Petrakis Cup and Metro Cup regattas, and brought home the overall points trophies from the FIRA and SIRA Championships. Two athletes received the CRCA National Scholar-Athlete Award and two received all-region honors.
UCF received national recognition in 2005-06 when the varsity eight earned its first top-20 ranking in the CRCA/USRowing Coaches Poll. The team won its ninth FIRA Championship title, swept Clemson and Syracuse in regular-season duals and finished fourth in the region at the South/Central Regional Championships. Seven Knights were honored as National Scholar-Athletes (the most of any Division I program in the country), two received all-region awards and Krystina Sarff became the rowing program's first All-American.
The 2006-07 season was just as memorable. UCF's varsity eight boat collected nine-consecutive victories to open the year, defeating teams like Virginia, UCLA and Washington State. It also went on to be selected as an at-large to the NCAA Championships, where it finished with a fourth-place showing in the third final. Meanwhile, the Black and Gold claimed the women's overall trophy at the SIRA Championships. In the US Rowing/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Assocation Poll, UCF earned its highest all-time national ranking, jumping to No. 9 during the season and to No. 14 in the final poll.
At the end of 2006-07, Krystina Sarff was selected to the 2007 NCAA Division I Pocock All-America First Team. Sarff also was a first-team all-region honoree with Caitlin Pauls, while Stephanie Pauls grabbed a spot on the second team. In the classroom, a total of seven Knights were named CRCA National Scholar-Athletes.
Prior to arriving at UCF, Crain spent a decade as head coach at the University of San Diego. During her tenure at USD, she was named the West Coast Conference (WCC) Coach of the Year in 1997 and 2003. Her athletes enjoyed numerous individual and team honors. Fifteen of her athletes received WCC All-Conference honors, six received Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) All-Conference honors, 16 were named to WCC All-Academic teams, 13 received the CRCA Division I National Scholar-Athlete Awards, two were named All-Americans by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, two were selected to the CRCA All-Region Team and one was named a Division I All-American by the CRCA.
One of Crain's former USD athletes is four-time US National Team member Ali Cox, who won a silver medal in the women's eight at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
As a member of the NCAA Division I Women's Rowing Committee from 2001-05, Crain served as chair of the NCAA Regional Advisory Committee for the West from 2001-2003 and South from 2003-05. She also was a member of the SIRA Board of Directors from 2004-06, and is currently on the NCAA Regional Advisory Committee for the south region.
Crain rowed for UCLA from 1985-88. In 1988, she served as team captain and was selected to the PAC-10 All-Conference Team. Crain trained with the U.S. National Team in 1988 and 1990. She won a gold medal for the U.S. in the women's four at the Cadbury International Regatta in Australia (1988) and was a grand finalist in the women's pair at World Championship Trials (1990).
In 1990, Crain joined the UCLA coaching staff as an assistant. The Bruins won the PAC-10 title that season.
Crain graduated from UCLA with a degree in psychology in 1988. She received her Level III USRowing Coaching Certification in 2001 and continues to participate in the USRA Advanced Coaching Series.