"The Boys in the Boat is a story of bringing the best out in each other in challenging conditions, trusting and uniting under a common goal... and building a seamless bond that leads to the incredible "Swing". That mix of hard work, heart and mind... only together, never alone... that is the essence - and the beauty - of The Boys in the Boat."
The 1936 Washington Rowing Team: Tradition and Trust
The 1936 Olympic victory in Berlin by the University of Washington crew team - brought alive by Daniel James Brown's best-seller The Boys In The Boat - remains one of the most compelling and important sports stories of the 20th century.
Behind the nine young men who formed that legendary team stood the Seattle community, and a foundation of support created decades before these men arrived on campus. It was that setting - even in the depths of the Great Depression - where master boat-builder George Pocock, and head coach Al Ulbrickson, spent their days teaching the Washington values that are still very much alive today: team over self, hard work, camaraderie, and rowing to win.
When I wrote the men's 100-year history in 2003 - and more recently the women's history - these timeless values emerged over and over again. It was that theme that led to my first speaking engagement in 2013, and with each year becomes more relevant in our world: common values, shared goals, teamwork and trust lie at the heart of every successful endeavor.
I was fortunate enough to meet and talk with Joe Rantz, Bob Moch, and Roger Morris in the early 2000's. I have sat down with 100's of others that have come through the Washington Rowing program over the decades. What is the common element? It is a wish to be there again, to have that common focus and the shared desire for excellence, and to experience it with their teammates one more time.
But there is also an enduring sense of gratitude. A gratitude for the values learned and the confidence built through rowing, and the "swing" that defines eight rowers in absolute harmony - an experience that stays with you your whole life. The Boys in the Boat had it. Let me share it with you.
Originally developed by Eric Cohen in 2001 as stewardship for the program, Huskycrew.org became the primary source of his Washington rowing history, written in conjunction with the program Centennial, in 2003. Continually updated by Eric for over twenty years now, it includes thousands of photos - with audio and video content unique to Washington men's and women's rowing - that rivals any sports history website in the world.