Hall of Fame

Oliver Scholle, Jr.

Graduation Year


Induction Year


Hall of Fame

Harvard Athletic Achievements

The 1974 heavyweight boat went undefeated and won the national championships at the University of Washington and the University of Wisconsin. In the process, its members began to develop a character picked up by the national media and unofficially titled “The Rude and Smooth.” The 1975 boat, driven by its illustrious senior class, two juniors, and a sophomore, continued to blow away its competition. It finished undefeated and again won the national title, while its “Rude and Smooth” reputation continued to flourish and helped the unorthodox crew land a story in the pages of Sports Illustrated.

Hall of Fame

Remembering Harvard Athletics

One of the most unusual aspects of the rowing program at Harvard is that while the racing season spans three months, the sport requires a commitment of the entire academic year. I am sure that many of our classmates in other sports believe that in the fall and winter the oarsmen were spending all of their time in the weight room or “working out” on some type of bicycle-like machine called an ergometer. However, to really appreciate what has made Harvard crews great over the years, one needs to understand the internal competition that takes place off the water before the members of the boats are selected. Competition for one of the eight seats in the varsity began the first day that we returned to the boathouse in September. As freshman, we were led to believe that nothing really counted until seat racing began in late March. Seat racing, it was said, was the only true test of an oarsman’s ability to move a boat. The truth was that in September, Harry was already using a series of “informal” tests to narrow his selection process. And one of the events that I enjoyed most in this period was the regular Friday footrace known as “the circuit.” Unlike the weekly “tour d’stad,” which was the circumnavigation of the stadium steps from portal 1 through 19, the circuit was a race with all oarsmen competing. These races began at an imaginary line running from the front door of Newell Boathouse to Storrow Drive. The twenty to thirty racers then ran west along the side of Starrow Drive until crossing the Charles at the Lars Anderson Bridge. From there, the race proceeded back down the far side of the river past the Cambridge Boat Club to Eliot House, where the runners crossed the river again to the final turn and 100-yard finish down to the front door of Newell. Runners had to complete two laps of the circuit, a distance of about 3 miles, as I recall, and times were posted each week by Harry. Harry knew that some of the oarsmen treated the circuit only as part of the training regime after a normal Friday workout on the water. However, others looked forward to the event and the chance to line up against teammates. There was also something subtly different about Harry at this time. I remember him standing beside the front door of Newell yelling encouragement to each of the runners as they passed after the first lap. And if he showed an unusual level of animation at the halfway point, by the time the first runners hit the finish line, he was acting like the owner of the first-place finisher at the Kentucky Derby. In hindsight, I suspect that these races were one of the first key building blocks in a series of individual comparisons that Harry made throughout the year as he sought to measure some of the intangibles which make great oarsmen. Rowing is the ultimate team sport. I remember one of the great oarsmen of the sixties saying “I could never be a sculler; who would you party with after the races?” Harvard rowing has been recognized as one of the greatest rowing programs of this century, and the college has turned out dozens of world-class oarsmen and national champions. Even within this enviable record, a number of great crews, like the 1968 Harvard boat which represented the U.S. in the Olympics, stand out. However, I wonder if, in the sport of rowing, the class of 1975 isn’t unique. It is possible that the individuals who raced in the 1974 and 1975 crews represent the single greatest collection of oarsmen in any single class of any college in history. Four of these individuals would go on to medal at least once in the Olympics. I don’t mean to take anything away from those of us in the classes of 1973, 1976, and 1977 who rowed with them. My point is that looking back, all of us benefited from the level of excellence and competition that these members of the class of 1975 created. And personally, I feel very lucky that a unique set of circumstances brought so many uniquely skilled athletes together with great coaching during my Harvard experience.