Starting the program from scratch, Wendy Davis has built the Minnesota rowing program into one of the top programs in the country. Her team had a breakout year in 2007, accomplishing three goals, which she set out to do when she was hired in 2000. Davis led her team to a sixth-place finish at the 2007 NCAA Championships, including a event championship in the Second Varsity Eight. Along with the team's national recognition, Davis led the Gophers to their first Big Ten Championship when they set a record of 150 points. The Gophers won four of six events at the conference title, garnering her Big Ten Coach of the Year honors. She was later named regional coach of the year as well. Along with the Gophers' on-the-water success, Davis and Minnesota opened its doors to its newly constructed boathouse in May of 2007.
Davis' program made great strides in the 2005-06 season when her team made its first appearance at the NCAA Championships as an at-large bid in May of 2006. The Gophers' First Varsity Eight finished eighth overall, the highest finish by an at large team last year. Davis also led the Gophers to a second-place finish at the 2006 Big Ten Championships on their home course of Lake Phalen. The Gophers qualified for every Grand Final and won three events. With their second-place finish, Davis was named Big Ten Coach of the Year, an honor she shared with Ohio State's Andy Teitelbaum.
In 2005, the Gophers' First Varsity Eight earned its first ranking in school history in the College Rowing Coaches Association poll. The Gophers were ranked as high as 15th in the country last season and nearly made it to the NCAA Championships as an at-large bid. Minnesota was named the Big Ten Boat of the Week twice last year after wins against non-conference opponents Louisville and No. 14 UCLA. The Gophers finished fifth in the Big Ten Championships and sixth in the region.
The fourth season was highlighted by a fifth-place finish at the 2004 Big Ten Championships and an eighth place showing at the Lexus South/Central Regional Sprints. While at the regional sprints, the Second Varsity Eight made its first appearance in the Grand Final race since the inception of the program. Minnesota's fall season showed promise for the future as the Gophers finished 22nd at the Head of the Charles in the Championship 8+ race. The Maroon and Gold then swept three races at the Head of the Iowa, winning the Varsity Eight, Varsity Four and Novice Eight action. It was the first time the Gophers won all three races in school history.
With the completion of the third year of the program, the Golden Gophers made their mark not only in the Big Ten, but also the nation. Minnesota's highlight of the fall season was a 22nd-place finish at the Head of the Charles Championship 8+ race. The Golden Gophers kicked off the spring season with dual wins against Tennessee and Louisville. Minnesota received its second Big Ten Boat of the Week honors in the second consecutive season, after defeating UCLA at home on April 26. The Gophers ended the season sixth in the Big Ten, and 10th at the Lexus South/Central Regional Sprints.
In the 2001-02 season, the Golden Gophers finished 11th at the Head of the Charles, qualifying for the 2002- 03 Championship 8+ competition. Under Davis' guidance, the Gophers defeated Iowa and Wisconsin at Big Ten Racing in Iowa City, Iowa. Minnesota's First Varsity Eight went on to earn Big Ten Boat of the Week, the Gophers' first weekly conference award. Minnesota finished fifth in the Big Ten Conference, a spot ahead of its 2000 sixth place finish, and gained its first votes in the CRCA national college poll.
Prior to Minnesota, Davis spent three years coaching national team members in preparation for the 2000 Olympic Games. Before accepting the position at Minnesota, Davis directed all aspects of training for U.S. National Team members Cindy Brooks and Emily Dirksen. Brooks was the 1999 National Women's Double Sculls champion and represented the U.S. at the World Rowing Championships in Canada the summer of 1999. Dirksen, was a member of the U.S. fours in 1998. Davis was a member of the Wo m e n 's Olympic Rowing Committee in 1997. Davis was the head coach at Yale from 1993-97. Her squad finished fifth at the first NCAA Rowing Championships in 1997, while her Varsity Eight placed second at the Collegiate National Championships in 1994.
Davis spent 10 years at Stanford. She was the women's novice coach from 1983-1991, before being promoted and serving as the head women's rowing coach from 1991-93. Davis led the Cardinal to a second-place Varsity Eight finish at the Pacific Coast Championships in 1992 and a fourth-place showing in 1993. Her 1988 novice team holds the distinction of being the only Cardinal squad to accomplish an undefeated season in the 60-plus year history, both men and women, of Stanford rowing. Under Davis the 1984 novice team was ranked third in the nation.
Davis competed in collegiate rowing at UCLA, earning team MVP honors in 1982. During her career, she was a member of the Bruins' women's four that placed second at the Collegiate National Championships in 1981 and sixth in 1980. Davis graduated from UCLA in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in Spanish and linguistics, then began her coaching career as the Bruins' women's novice coach in the 1982-83 season.