Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Hall of Fame
Remembering Harvard Athletics
It is a privilege to be here and to be included among these great athletes. Rowing at Harvard was also a privilege. Harry Parker is the best there is and any athlete desires to train with the best. Being surrounded by extraordinary athletes, the best coaches and a program dripping with history and expectations is both exciting and daunting when one enters the doors of Newell as a green 18 year old. Four years later, after tens of thousands of miles of going backward in skinny boats, I came away with great memories - and plenty of shirts, medals and ribbons. And now, after 20 years of “adult” life, the medals and ribbons are in a box in the attic and the shirts are mostly gone, yet I can still remember many of the antics, both on and off the water, as if they were last week: - The first day of practice on the varsity team in the fall of 1984. Harry had put the racing schedule on the wall listing each of the weekend dual races (Brown, Princeton, etc.) and then the Sprints, the Yale race, and Cincinnati. Richard Kennelly, also on that first day, grabbed a pen and added Henley to the list – I still have that schedule. He had just raised the bar issuing a subtle challenge that winning in the U.S. was not good enough. - When Ted Washburn took us through the locks and into Boston Harbor for the first time I felt a bit like we were going on an adventure. By the time we got to the lighthouse, and had to suffer through a scratchy version of a song about a lighthouse keeper, the adventure had worn off. A year or two later, on another Sunday morning in Boston Harbor, Harry decided to take us all the way down to the Quincy sailing dock. I remember my legs cramping when I tried to get out of the shell onto the sailing dock and wondering how I was going to make it something like 15 miles back to Newell. - Harry yelling at Lionel Levental for doing something reckless during a Friday race. Lionel was trying so hard not to laugh out loud that his face was bright red and he was shaking. Harry, who could see Lionel laughing, became apoplectic yelling “Safety first” over and over. Finally, Harry sent us off on another grueling piece and Lionel promptly announces through the cox box: “Speed first, safety last”. - And speaking of safety, few of the mishaps are memorable also:
Just after the ice melted in the spring, driving a four up onto an “iceberg” and cracking the hull such that we had to race back to Newell before we sank. Getting run over by a BU woman’s frosh boat while in a pair with Gordon Gwynne-Timothy.
Jamie Hanson impaling the bow of a single into the end of the dock and not being able to back out. Eventually he jumped out and swam to the dock. Lionel misjudging the bridge during that junket in southern France and smashing several of the oars Harry had borrowed from some French rowing club. Lionel then proceeded to win several thousand dollars gambling that same evening and bought the club new oars. - Winning the Champ Fours at the Head of the Charles with Richard, Kurt and Andy Hawley was particularly satisfying. We wore shirts that said 71 – 51 in reference to our record in the Harvard – Yale race. It’s probably something like 90 to 52 now. Thanks to the Web, a quick Google search produces a picture of that race – cool huh? - Certainly we all remember the Princeton crew electing, for reasons that remain unclear, to get Mohawks for the dual race. I have a picture of some Princeton dude just after the race sitting looking distraught with his silly Mohawk – and no shirt. We, as you might recall, had set a course record that day. - After losing the Navy race, coming back to win the Sprints (almost exactly 20 years ago, by the way) and sweeping all the heavyweight races. - Launching innumerable rockets from the varsity quarters at Red Top, some of which headed majestically into the sky and some of which turned on us sending us scampering for cover. - Racing to breakfast in Cincinnati and after discovering our car was underpowered, taking a shortcut across a field. The car had grass hanging out of the radiator for the rest of the week. - Senior year, dragging a small stuffed bear (Brown’s mascot) behind the team van to away races. - The last 20 strokes of Cincinnati in 1985 when we shot past Princeton – probably the best 20 strokes of my rowing career - and we can still give Neil grief for having the strength to stand up at the end and make a spectacle of himself. - I’m sure Devin remembers the first line of the Sport Illustrated article that came out after Cincinnati. She was glowingly described as: “spunky and freckled as a trout”. - Of course, I can’t think of Cincinnati without remembering the antics surrounding the fountain at the Holiday Inn. Dan, being chased by the woman manager, running soaking wet from the fountain, through the bar, and then having the temerity to get right back into the fountain was just masterful. Also, I remember the security guard laughing so hard he could barely stand up in the locker room. - Winning the Grand Challenge at Henley and getting more of a race from the Danish Lightweights in the early rounds than from Princeton in the finals. - Goofing around in southern France in August at the Perrier race including getting kicked out of a gay bar. In the end its not how many races we won that sticks with me, its how much fun we had along the way. We were at times proud and confident, occasionally distraught, and often physically and emotionally exhausted, and yet it was the best part of our college experience. As Harry occasionally proclaimed, each day really was a “Great Day!!” BTFDO