Sunday, October 16, 2011

Willamette University Crew Alumni/Parent Weekend

I mentioned earlier that we took a quick trip down to Oregon this weekend. We were headed to the lovely town of Salem, Oregon, for a Willamette University Crew event. 

I think I’ve mentioned previously that Chris and I met as rowers on Willamette’s rowing team almost ten (!) years ago. I was just back from a study abroad stint in Costa Rica and Chris was a transfer student from Alaska.  Wow, I can’t believe it has been almost a decade. Yikes. 

Anyway, a few lovely people got together this summer and organized an event for the parents of current rowers to come down to the river and see their kids in action. They also invited former rowers to come out for a race and to christen a new rowing shell. 

So we piled in the car and headed south. 

Frankly, I wished they’d done something like this when I was a student. Brilliant. 

The team took a boat down to the dock and the coach gave all the parents rowing lessons. 
They were tickled pink. 
This was Benjamin’s first introduction to rowing. He’s a tough cookie, and it took a bit of convincing that this was, indeed, a sport that he should pursue at a later date. Kiddo, you’ve got rowing in your blood; football or baseball just isn’t going to cut it. 

 Later, the entire team went out on the water for a scrimmage. They also put together an alumni boat. 

Check out that Five Seat!! 

From left to right: Adam Withycombe, Tiff Wood, Woody Stark (standing), Susan Parkman, Ryan Kinnett, Chris J., and Jenny [Schaecher] Withycombe. I didn’t catch the names of the three in Seats 1, 2, and 4. They’re current WU rowers. Not pictured: Me, Felicia [Russell] Struve, and Nate Trenholme.

Mark my words, Willamette is going to have one hell of a fast Women’s Varsity 8+ this year. They looked great, and it’s only a few weeks into the fall season. 

 If they can stay healthy, they’ll be moving come the spring season. 

We had a boat race! Rowing isn’t the most thrilling sport to watch but occasionally there are brief moments of excitement. Like this one:

Up and over heads!

 Later the coaches unveiled the name of the new eight:

Which was named after a departing head coach.  

 Chris was paying attention to the speeches. Ben? Not so much. He was hamming it up for the cameras. 


Riding on his Papa’s shoulders…

And consuming vast quantities of cheerios. 

He was having a jolly good time until we walked out on the dock. Clearly he was convinced that I was going to heave him overboard.
 All in all, we were so glad that we’d trekked down for the day. It was great to meet the new (and old coaches), the team, and see the new boats. I hope they have a great season. 

Later we drove by the old boathouse. The river has changed course over the years and evidently the spit of land that protected the crewhouse from the main river has eroded away, leaving the building at the mercy of the currents and sediment deposits. Consequently, the team stores their boats outside at an old marina and walks them several hundred feet down to the water. They are hardy souls, this batch of rowers.

Afterwards, we took a stroll around campus with the bambino. It was quite a trip down memory lane. I hadn’t been back on campus since a gal pal was married in the chapel in 2006. 

As Chris remarked: “Can you believe that we’re back here, eight years later, with our baby in tow?”

Willamette was such a wonderful place to go to school: the classes, the professors, the friendships, the athletic opportunities. I am so grateful that my parents made it possible for me to attend; it remains, to this day, one of my very favorite times. 

Class of 2033, perhaps?