March 23, 2012
SEATTLE -- Beddome Allen's voice cracked as he remembered his close friend. The junior oarsman at Washington stood in front of a packed-in crowd inside the Conibear Shellhouse dining room, and described how his teammate Peter Allen would come back to their apartment last year from the gym, buzzing with endorphins following a workout.
After taking a year off to focus on academics and his dedication to God, Peter (Class of 2013) was making his return to the crew team. His rowing ergometer numbers were making a precipitous drop; his fitness was up. Peter had broken 20 minutes on a 6,000-meter erg piece, a significant benchmark on the machine.
"He was a very talented athlete, he just had it all figured out," Beddome said. "I told him he was going to have such a good year (back) on the team. He just had so much promise and so much drive."
Peter never had his chance. The Puyallup, Wash., native died last September in a hiking accident at Snoqualmie Pass, just days before the Husky men's crew program was scheduled to report. It was a tragic moment that stunned the Washington family at the time; the number of tearful faces inside Conibear on Friday was evidence of how the loss is still keen.
On a resplendent Seattle afternoon, the Washington crew program honored one of its fallen athletes by dedicating a boat in his name. The eight-oared William Peter Allen shell was officially christened in a ceremony outside Conibear Shellhouse. A bottle of champagne was cracked over the stern, followed by the pouring of finish-line water over the boat. Finally, a group of rowers from Peter's class shouldered the boat to Union Bay and took it for a row to Lake Washington. On the apron of Conibear, family members dabbed their eyes with tissues. The silence was broken only by the sound of the oars chopping water, and the engine of the chase boats following the shell.
From this day on, the name William Peter Allen is forever engraved in Washington crew's rich history. The Huskies will use the Pocock boat in Saturday's Class Day regatta, where it will be rowed by the 2013 class in the George M. Varnell race.
Friends and family members described Peter as an incandescent soul, always brimming with optimism and dedicated to sports, academics and the church. Peter was an experienced outdoorsman, summitting Mt. Rainier last July. His close friend Mick Connors remembered a person who cared for his teammates and the UW crew program, and faced a hard decision to leave after his freshman season in order to concentrate on his biochemistry major, where he held a 3.30 GPA.
"His teammates weren't just his teammates," Connors told the crowd. "He loved you guys."
Peter's dad, Mike Allen, recalled that one of the happiest days in his son's life was when the acceptance letter to the University of Washington arrived. When he came to UW, Peter walked onto the crew team. He made friends easily, thanks to a ready smile and a soft-spoken nature.
Men's coach Michael Callahan opened the ceremony, which was attended by each member of both teams, along with UW athletic department officials. He ended it with a challenge, from Peter to the rowers who would forever compete in the shell.
"Today, give all you have. Row this boat with that feeling, that passion and that drive; you'll go fast."