Jan. 20, 2010
SEATTLE - Inside the Washington rowing program, it seems that no matter how grand the accomplishment there is always a crew who has been there before.
This could be said of the scene at Benaroya Hall on Tuesday night for the Seattle Sports' Star of the Year presentation. Among the attendees of the star-studded gala were the winners of the 2009 IRA National Championship boat. They were joined that evening with several rowers from the 1958 crew that defeated the world champion Leningrad Trud Club behind the Iron Curtain in Moscow, about as intimidating a team or venue to row against.
That particular moment was rated as the Top Sports Story of the past 75 years, edging such other events as the Sonics' 1979 NBA Championship and Washington football's 1991 National Championship. In a city steeped in sports tradition, it was a tremendous honor for such a moment to receive such recognition.
"It's an honor for the Washington crew to be associated with an NBA championship and so many other amazing feats in Seattle history," said men's crew coach Michael Callahan. "It shows the place of Washington rowing in the Northwest and the Seattle community. That's why it's so unique to row here. People care about what we do, and we care about what they do."
It's one of the unique qualities about Washington rowing. There is always an experienced alumnus around whose brain you can pick. On Tuesday night, it was former stroke Will Crothers discussing technique with the stroke of the '58 boat John Sayre, who is also an Olympic gold medalist.
"It means a lot to those guys to talk with (alumni) about their life after they were Husky oarsman," Callahan said. "They see the variety of things that they can conquer after getting their education, both in the University and with the rowing team."
The Sports Star Awards marked a clean sweep for Husky student-athletes. Jake Locker won the 2009 Male Sports Star of the Year award, the same category that the IRA National Championship boat was nominated. The Husky softball team captured the Female Sports Star award.
Callahan offered congratulations to both winners. He recalled the scene the night before the IRA race on Lake Natoma in California last June, when the Huskies crew teams crowded around TVs at their hotel watching Heather Tarr's team win a national title.
"Those guys had amazing years and amazing careers here at the University," Callahan said. "It was just an honor for our guys (to be there), and to be around so many other strong sportspeople in their field."