Zach Johnson enters his 11th season as head coach of the UC San Diego men's rowing program in 2016-17. He has been with the Tritons since 2004-05 when he was named an assistant coach.
During his tenure, Johnson has taken the program to new heights and expectations. In each of his seasons, the team has achieved new goals and set new standards. Never ranked prior to the 2007 season, UCSD has now spent time ranked in the top 25 of the U.S. Rowing Collegiate Poll in five of the last ten seasons.
Team highlights under Johnson include wins at the 2007 and 2009 San Diego Crew Classic Cal Cup events, as well as invitations to the Crew Classic Copley Cup in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012 as one of the country's top crews. In 2011, UC San Diego became the first non-Pac-12 program to qualify for the Copley Cup Grand Final, taking fifth place overall and defeating traditional powerhouses along the way.
In addition, the team has enjoyed success at races such as the Stanford Invitational, where UCSD has compiled a winning record in duel races; the George Washington Invitational, where the team placed second overall in team points in 2012; the SIRA Regatta, where the Tritons finished second overall in 2011; and the WIRA Championship Regatta, where UCSD has never finished lower than third and won the overall team championship in 2006 and 2011.
The 2013 season saw UCSD earn its third-ever invitation to the IRA National Championships. The invite came on the heels of a two-medal performance at the WIRA Championships, where the varsity eight won silver and the JV eight took bronze in their respective grand final races.
In 2012, the Tritons came away with a pair of victories on the final day of the WIRA Championships. The first-place finishes came from the JV eight and the second novice eight boats. The varsity eight boat took third and the novice eight finished fourth.
UC San Diego also qualified for the IRA National Championships in both 2009 and 2011.
At the end of the 2006-07 season, Johnson was invited to "guest" coach for a month at Yale University. While at Yale, he coached the JV and 3V athletes as they prepared for the oldest intercollegiate sporting event in the country, the Harvard-Yale Regatta. The JV crew was able to surprise a heavily-favored Harvard boat, which had beaten Yale at both IRAs and Eastern Sprints weeks earlier, winning the event by over 15 seconds.
Johnson joined the UCSD coaching staff during the 2004-05 season as the novice/freshman coach. At the time, the novice program was comprised entirely of walk-ons and went on to enjoy tremendous success over the next two seasons, setting records for UCSD freshmen crews that still hold today. Johnson's crews placed fourth at the San Diego Crew Classic, won all duel competitions and qualified for back-to-back ECAC National Invitational Championships Grand Finals, where in 2006 the team took second place overall to become the only Triton crew to ever medal in a national invitational.
Prior to coming to UC San Diego, Johnson was the head coach at San Diego State University from 2000-04. During his tenure, SDSU became a highly-competitive program, winning or medaling in numerous conference championships. Johnson's SDSU crews qualified in the varsity four for the IRA National Championships in three of his five years as head coach.
Johnson began his rowing career at the early age of nine and has rowed competitively at every level from Junior to Elite. Although most of his 20-year competitive career focused on sculling events, he won a total of nine national championship medals in the eight, straight four, coxed four, quad, double and single, with his last coming in 2005.
Johnson graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor's degree in history. He was varsity captain and club president for SDSU from 1995-98.