Hall of Fame

Keir J. Pearson

Graduation Year


Induction Year


Hall of Fame

Harvard Athletic Achievements

Keir was a member of the first varsity heavyweight crew in 1987 and 1990. The crews from 1987 to 1989 certainly rank among the best Harvard has ever seen and they proved that by enjoying considerable success in many major competitions at home and overseas. They were the dominant crews of those years despite some very strong competition form both traditional intercollegiate rivals and outstanding international crews. Also notable are their convincing victories over Yale in the annual Harvard-Yale four mile race. The 1987 crew enjoyed a particularly long and successful season. The crew started with a resounding victory over west coast power Washington, then continued through a dramatic victory over a powerful Brown crew in the National Championships in Cincinnati. The season finished with outstanding races at the Victoria Boatrace in Victoria, BC, the Henley Regatta in England, and the World University Games in Zagreb, Yugoslavia. The 1988 crew was equally successful and ended their season with victories at Worcester in the EARC Sprint Championships, over Yale in New London and in the National Championships at Cincinnati. In 1989, the crew repeated as both EARC Sprint and National Champions and went on to row an historic race in the finals of the Ladies Plate competition at the Henley Royal Regatta. In addition to their collective success in both intercollegiate and international competition, several members of the crews went on to significant international success as members of various U.S. Olympic and World Championship crews. They continue to maintain strong connections to Harvard and U.S. national rowing programs.

Hall of Fame

Remembering Harvard Athletics

I want to thank the Harvard Varsity Club for this wonderful honor. It truly is a privilege to be included amongst these great athletes.

I remember when I was a senior in high school trying to decide where to go to college and I visited Harvard. I knew then this was where I wanted to go. The camaraderie in the boathouse was incredible, and who could turn down a chance to row with the best. It was the best boat house, steeped in tradition, with the best coaches and the best athletes. Needless to say I was thrilled with the opportunity.

But there’s one thing about competing with and against the best -- it’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s a downright struggle. It was a struggle for me to stay healthy (a recurring back injury led to surgery and a year of rehab). It was often a struggle for me to make the varsity, and once there, it was always another struggle to keep my seat. And it was even at times a struggle to win races. But win we did.

One of my fondest and most vivid memories is of the last 500 meters at the 1987 NCAA National Championships. Brown was favored to win and heading into the sprint they still led by a couple of seats. The only thought I had, however, was “We’re going to win.” It was strange feeling so confident in such a hotly contested race, but driving for the finish the thought never left my mind “We’re going to win”. This says a lot about the coaching of Harry Parker and the power of a winning tradition. Perhaps, more importantly, it also says a lot about the respect and confidence I had in my fellow teammates, especially with our backs against the wall and everything at stake. A hard year of training followed by some disappointing setbacks had not left us down but hungrier than ever. We won the race by fractions of a second (.18 of a second I believe). It was a great moment in my life, and looking back now at all the hard work and all we overcame, it’s truly wonderful to be honored here tonight.

First I have to thank all of my teammates at Harvard. Your words and actions have influenced me over the years more than you’ll ever know. You showed me how to handle life with class, taking the highs and lows in stride…which I didn’t always do while at Newell. You remain many of my closest friends.

Thanks to Harry Parker for being a great coach and a legendary one at that. You taught us more than how to race and win. You led with dignity, showing us that hard work, dedication, and integrity count more than anything. Harry, you brought me to Harvard and that opened up a whole new world of opportunity for me, dramatically changing my life forever.

Thanks to Ted Washburn for an amazing Freshman year.

Thanks to the Friends of Harvard Rowing. Because of you, we trained under the best conditions and traveled the country and the world racing. What amazing memories.

Finally thanks to my lovely wife Jackie (a Brown grad no less!) and our three beautiful daughters. Everyday with you is a crowning glory.