12 December 2017
This past weekend, at the Joy of Sculling conference in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., attended by about 200 rowing coaches from across the U.S. and Canada, Dave Vogel received the JOS Lifetime Achievement Award. In a nice pairing of recognition, Jimmy Joy, who was Vogel’s coach 50 years ago, had himself been presented with USRowing’s Medal of Honor at the Golden Oars dinner in New York just last month.
Rowing historian Tom Weil introduced Dave at the awards luncheon on Saturday, 9 December, and said the following:
So Jimmy said to me, ‘We’re gonna give Dave our lifetime achievement award, and I’d like you to present it”. ‘Why me?’ I asked. Jimmy responded, ‘Well, you’ve known him for over 50 years.’ ‘Jimmy,’ I said, ‘That’s probably the best reason that I shouldn’t be doing this!’ Well, here we are, and it’s a great honor to be presenting for Dave on behalf of the Joy of Sculling.
I do want to note that you are witnessing the passing of a generation – rowers who began with wooden oars in wooden boats, who didn’t know what an ergometer was, and who had never seen women race. It’s a very different world now, but some things haven’t changed. Coaching is an extraordinary vocation, and the mastery of rowing demands the teaching of what may be some of the hardest lessons in sport. The act of rowing is singular, but the art is so nuanced and the craft so complex as to rise to the level of alchemy, converting the dross of a random selection of individuals into the miracle of team gold. And this is what Dave Vogel has done for most of his so-far-in-his-lifetime.
He coached lightweights and heavyweights over 29 years at Yale, the country’s oldest collegiate rowing program, where he was instrumental in saving the lightweights from being abolished 40 years ago, and saw a number of his athletes make the national team. He has also coached the national team, with a 1988 world’s silver medal to show for it, at Craftsbury, at Northeast Sculling and Rowing Camp, and at New Haven Rowing Club, where he was among the first members, and he has recently worked with Wes Ng and the Trinity and Penn women.
His coach, Jimmy Joy, has long spoken of the learning passed from coach to coach, and what Fitzpatrick taught Joy, Joy taught Vogel, and Vogel shared the mysteries of the craft with many others, including several in this room. His lessons have traveled into the greater arena of coaching, where they have touched more athletes than can be counted.
But Dave’s contributions to rowing go far beyond coaching. As a competitor, he was a three-year letterman on the Yale lightweight varsity, raced for the Thames Cup at Henley in 1970, and captained the team his senior year. He was a member of the first U.S. national team lightweight eight in 1971, and rowed in the 1973 worlds bronze boat, and the 1975 worlds silver eight. Over 50 years since he first stepped into a shell, Dave continues to this day to compete and amass Masters medals.
Dave has also made his mark as a leader. As president of USRowing from 1995 to 2000, he represented the United States at international rowing congresses and presided over the longest run – three years – of consecutive U.S. men’s world championships heavyweight eights in history. He was the development director of the National Rowing Foundation for several years, has long served as a director of the Yale Crew Association, and is currently an advisor to the Canal Dock Boathouse project in New Haven Harbor.
One of the country’s leading race and regatta announcers, Dave has broadcast, for well over 20 years, everything from dual races to numerous NCAA women’s championships to the 1996 Olympics. His ability to detect a two-seat lead from a launch 50 yards aft is legendary.
Dave’s legacy is already memorialized in sterling silver and in print. One of the more impressive trophies in the sport, the team award for the Harvard-Yale-Princeton lightweight race, is named for him, and he serves as one of the central figures in Small Puddles, perhaps the most unusual rowing autobiography ever written (and a book that is dedicated to him). You couldn’t imagine a life more consumed by and devoted to rowing.
Finally, Dave Vogel will long be remembered by the company he keeps, being not just a member of the Leander Club, a devoted husband to Leah – who should be receiving this award next to him – and a father to Lacey and Diana, but the guy you want to grab the keys from you when you’re too drunk to drive.
Congratulations, Dave, on winning the well-deserved Joy of Sculling’s Lifetime Achievement Award.