WORKING WOMEN

Meredith Mariani handles crew team, pregnancy in stride

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Meredith Mariani is not your typical men's crew coach.

Mariani didn't miss a race this season while going through her pregnancy. (Photo: WJLA)

"It's definitely something that raises a few eyebrows occasionally," Mariani says. "Actually, the question is more like 'Why are you coaching these boys? Don't they drive you crazy?'"

Not only is it unusual for Alexandria's Old Dominion Boat Club to have a female coach, but she and her husband are also expecting a daughter. Mariani is eight-and-a-half months pregnant - a learning experience for the team made up of mostly boys from T.C. Williams High School.

"You can tell I'm sort of opening their eyes and increasing awareness," Mariani says.

She says that different things about her pregnancy, such as having to drive instead of fly to a recent major regatta in Boston, have been teachable moments.

"My first thought was...let's hope she doesn't come early," Mariani says. "My second thought was...let's know where all the hospitals are in Boston."

Mariani, 34, was a high school and college rower before going to law school and writing a book. Despite keeping up with a crew of teenage boys in addition to her pregnancy, though, she realized that coaching was her passion.

Old Dominion's season concluded this past weekend and the team is proud of itself in a rebuilding year - one during which Mariani made it to every regatta.

Mariani is due Nov. 25.

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