Oh, What A Swell Party It Was!

On Saturday evening, 20 March 2010, the National Rowing Foundation (NRF), the governing body of the National Rowing Hall of Fame, inducted eighteen new members into ‘The Hall’. It was, as NRF’s Executive Director Hart Perry put it, “an historic occasion [as it was] the first time in its 54-year existence that the National Rowing Hall of Fame has hosted a stand-alone induction ceremony.” And what a ceremony it was! 253 people had gathered to honour, celebrate, and cheer on the Inductees when they received their certificates from the hands of Hart Perry, who this evening saw a dream come true.

The Inductees were (click here to get a presentation of their achievements; and their presenters are in parenthesis): James W. Dietz (Bill Miller); Anne Marden Grainger (Barb Kirsch); Karen Rigsby and Missy Schwen Ryan (Larry Hough); Thomas Bohrer, who was not present due to an accident (Ted Nash); Amy Fuller Kearney (Mary Whipple); the late Andrew Sudduth (Harry Parker); Anita DeFrantz (Paul Fuchs); Michael F. Teti (Kris Korzeniowski); the 2004 Athens Olympic Men’s Eight: Jason Read, Wyatt Allen, Christian Ahrens, Joseph Hansen, Matthew Deakins, Daniel J. Beery, Beau Hoopman, Bryan Volpenhein, and coxswain Peter M. Cipollone (Michael Teti).

The festivities began with a reception party at the Rowing Hall of Fame in the G.W. Blunt White Building (where the grand rowing exhibit ‘Let Her Run’ is also located) at Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut. ‘Blunt White’ quickly became crowed. And ‘everybody’ in the U.S. rowing community seemed to be there and nicely dressed-up, too (I actually saw a couple of dinner jackets/tuxedos). They were having a good time. The weather gods were working well with the organisers and the sun was shining from a cloud-free sky on those who preferred to be outside.

At 7:00 p.m. the banquet with the ceremony started at the museum’s restaurant across the way from ‘The Hall’. Hart Perry welcomed all, and the ceremony began with the oldest Inductee. Jim Dietz (born in 1949; seen in the photo on the right) was introduced and awarded his certificate. And then it rolled on. There were many touching, moving, and funny talks delivered by both the presenters – and here maybe the coaches Ted Nash’s and Kris Korzeniowski’s speeches stood out – and by the Inductees. All the Inductees got standing ovations both when they approached the podium and after they had received the certificates that proved that they now belonged to an extraordinary group of American sportsmen and sportswomen.

With a dozen or so members of the Rowing Hall of Fame present and the eighteen Inductees, someone pointed out that never before, counting Olympic and World Championship rowing medals, had that many prominent American oarsmen and oarswomen been gathered at one single event. This was not hard to believe, because wherever one turned there were old and more recent champions and their famous coaches chatting or sipping a drink or two.
At the banquet I was lucky ending up at the ‘rowing historian table’, with well-known scholars like Chris Dodd, William Lanouette, Peter Mallory, Bill Miller (seen on the left), and Tom Weil.
It was a wonderful evening!

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