In 1955, William “Bill” Brown ’34, former Instructor in English and Crew coach, obtained used oars and shells from Harvard, Yale and Princeton in order to create Andover’s Crew program.
In deference to Brown’s contribution to Andover Crew and in celebration of his life and work at Andover, the school’s new Boathouse in Methuen, MA was dedicated to Brown on Sunday at a gathering of the entire Andover rowing community, which included alumni donors and current students.
Bill Brown passed away on November 17, 2010, one week after the trustees approved the final plans for the new boathouse, according to a press release on the Andover website.
Andover Crew moved into the new boathouse on September 19. The $6.5 million project, funded by the Campaign for Andover, is located near Route 93 and sits on a 5.8 acre property.
“[The dedication] was wonderful. People had a chance to row, and we had beautiful weather and very good crowd of enthusiastic members of the rowing family,” said Peter Washburn, Head Coach of Andover Crew.
“It was a real testament to the bond within the Andover Crew program as it exists within the school and within the entire alumni network,” said Henry Kennelly ’13, Captain of Andover Boys Crew.
Just after sunrise on Sunday morning, several boats of students, alumni, trustees and school administrators launched off the dock on the Merrimack River to row prior to the 9 a.m. ceremony.
Peter Currie ’74, President of the Board of Trustees, opened the ceremony and was followed by Head of School John Palfrey, Michael Kuta, Athletic Director, Washburn, Sarah Sherman ’04, coxswain of the Andover NEIRA 2003 boat, Paul Brown ’68, son of William Brown, and Oscar Tang ’56, Trustee Emeritus.
Paul Brown remembered his father’s relationship with the Andover Crew program.
“An apt metaphor of William [Brown]’s spirit is a mighty fine line between adventurousness and recklessness, between conceiving and doing, between recounting and telling a good story, and in that fineness, you would find a wonderful teacher, coach, companion and friend,” said Brown in his speech.
Other speakers at the event recalled the origins of the Andover Crew program in 1955 with anecdotes and stories from their own experiences.
“I was on the river, rowing, first time in seven years [since the celebration of 50 years of Andover Crew in 2006], [and] that time seven years ago was the first time [I had rowed] in 40 years. I’ve been quite apprehensive about rowing today, because [I could] catch a crab, [when the rower fails to get the oar out of the water in time for the next stroke]” said Oscar Tang ‘56 in his speech.
“When I was rowing as a student, I caught [a] crab and not realizing it, it had flipped me out of the boat, into the water, and I think it was my roommate who finished me off by hitting me on my head with the oar. However, when I heard that John Palfrey was going to row also, I didn’t know which one to be more concerned about, because it was the morning of his investiture,” he continued.
Washburn’s speech emphasized the importance of goal-setting, exploration and a devoted team to Andover crew.
“We hope that the students will develop passion for this program and everything else that goes along with this passion: sound mind, sound body, appreciation of fitness, commitment to teammates and into a common goal, as it is as important as the actual racing itself,” said Washburn in his speech.
“We stress working together, but most importantly, we want everybody to have fun. As coaches, we are striving for excellence. This does not mean that we have to come in first in every race, but it does mean that you should put in every effort to do the best that you can. We never ask for more than your best,” he continued.
Since its beginning in 1955, Andover Crew has grown to include more than 10 percent of the student body in its fall or spring programs, according to a press release on the Andover website.
Located further upstream on the Merrimack River than the former boathouse, the new boathouse will provide more storage space and waterfront spectator seating.
“For over 30 years, the crew team has launched boats from a cement box with a dock that had to be manually put in and removed, [yet] we won, we lost, we fought, and we made amazing memories despite the challenging conditions. If anything, the lack of luxury made us stronger, smarter and prouder because we had so much success without the advantages that many other teams had,” wrote Stephanie Nekoroski ’14 in an e-mail to The Phillipian.
“For this reason, we will never take this new boathouse for granted. [We will] always remain the same enthusiastic and dedicated rowers that we have been, because [whether we are] in the best or the worst boathouse, we are a family,” she added.
“We are still going to have to work hard and stay disciplined and focused. Having a new boathouse at a new location does not change anything on the water, nor does it make us any faster than before. In fact, we’re going to have to work even harder,” said Washburn.