Nov. 19, 2010
SEATTLE - The moment almost seemed too much for Jon Wilcox.
This was the scene at his reception on Thursday night at Conibear Shellhouse, where the former Husky oarsman was presented with the Dave & Ruth Cohn Award - given to a former Washington letterwinner who displays a special commitment to Husky Athletics - in front of large crowd of supporters, old teammates and current members of the crew program. Prompted by the crowd to make a speech, Wilcox needed a minute to collect his thoughts after introductions from women's coach/rowing director Bob Ernst and senior associate athletic director for development Jen Cohen.
Cohen was sure to add that it takes a special level of dedication to meet the standard Wilcox has set in the department. She noted Wilcox's above-and-beyond support made it easy to select him for the Cohn Award, one of the most prestigious honors bestowed by the athletic department.
"It's hard to really invest yourself in a way that entails rolling up your sleeves," Cohen said.
Wilcox rowed for the Huskies until he graduated in 1961, and had a successful career as an executive consultant before retiring. Now he spends his time supporting the athletic department, the Tyee Club and the Washington crew program. He's a frequent visitor at practice, regattas and team functions, and is often seen chatting with the current crop of Husky oarsmen.
"One of the most sterling things about working with a program like this is the family nature of everything," Wilcox said.
What prompted Wilcox to devote his life to helping the program is the quality of student-athletes at Washington, a long lineage that has produced some of the titans in Seattle business, law and medical fields. It impresses him that the oarsmen can better themselves as leaders while also continuing the usual Washington standard of excellence on the water. One specific example of this that Wilcox pointed to was current varsity 8 rower Robert Munn, a political science major at UW - and recipient of the Chuck Holtz scholarship - who has spent the past summer competing internationally with the USA U-23 team in Belarus.
"It's a thrill to meet people like this," Wilcox said.
After the reception, Wilcox was presented with the award by senior associate athletic director O.D. Vincent III on the Husky Stadium field during the football game against UCLA.