2022 Dad Vail Program

MARIETTA COLLEGE’S 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF ROWING 1871-2021: THE LITTLE DAVID OF COLLEGE ROWING 46 DAD VAIL CHAMPIONSHIPS AND GROWING In 2021, Marietta College is celebrating the 150th Anniversary of rowing on the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers. In 1871, a student-driven initiative to introduce the sport of rowing on campus was accomplished. There was no athletic department and there were no coaches — just plain student interest in one of the most popular professional and collegiate sports at that time. One has to give the students credit for organizing and fundraising to get the program up and running, but there were issues facing the program. There was no boathouse — not a great thing for wooden boats — and by 1874, interest in the program waned, the equipment fell into disrepair and the underclassmen who proceeded the class of 1871 did not have the same zeal for the sport. By 1875, there was no rowing at Marietta. The Pioneer spirit did not wane, however, and by 1876, the sport was re-established — this time as the Marietta College Rowing Association with a new Boathouse and renewed interest in the sport. By 1881, the College was fielding a total of six fouroared shells. There was unequivocal confidence the Marietta Navy would become not only the leading sport on campus, but one of the top programs in the West. In 1877, Marietta College and the Duquesne University Rowing Club held the first-ever race on the Ohio River. The crews raced 2 ½ miles with Marietta claiming victory. Unfortunately, the Marietta Navy once again could not sustain interest in the sport. Sadly, due to lack of competition, by 1891 rowing was no longer a sport on campus; the midOhio Valley would have to wait another 35 years before the program was resurrected. In 1925 a committee was appointed to evaluate the prospects of reestablishing shell racing as a Marietta College sport. This time, unlike the other attempts, the timing was right, and the program would become an integral part of the College and community. The College allocated the necessary resources and were fortunate to receive shells from the University of Washington and University of Pennsylvania. Importantly, the College started negotiations with the University of Washington for a crew coach. The College felt it would be best to follow the popular trend of colleges hiring former Husky rowers to coach their teams. In fact, nine of the 13 rowing coaches at the collegiate level were graduates from Washington’s rowing program. The Washington powers that be recommended to Marietta that they hire J. Ellis MacDonald, a ’29 graduate and stroke of the 1927-29 Washington Varsity. Upon arriving in Marietta ’29 MacDonald went to work to create excitement, and most importantly, find willing and able men to become part of his team. The ’29-30 season would be inter-class and intramural racing. MacDonald had his sights set to field a crew to be competitive with the Goliath’s of college rowing. The “Little David of College Rowing” was ready to go. MacDonald, like Marietta’s current coach Greg Myhr, had no problem going up against the top crews in the country. All in all, the College held its own. While MacDonald’s Marietta crew would never beat the Huskies head-to-head, they did give them a scare during a dual race in 1931. The year of 1934 will go down in the chronicles of Marietta rowing as one of its most significant years. This is largely thanks to the foresight of Rusty Callow, then the Coach of University of Pennsylvania, who promoted the idea of rowing championships for schools “too small” to compete with the “big boys.” Hence the “Dad Vail Cup” was first competed in 1934 with Marietta defeating Rutgers and Manhattan to win the first Dad Vail Regatta. It would take another 29 years before Marietta would capture Dad Vail Varsity Heavyweight Gold. Marietta is proud to have been one of the founding members of the Dad Vail Rowing Association that was formed in January 1939. Of the eight founding member schools, only Marietta and Rollins College remain regular participants. Under the leadership of Ralph Lindamood who coached Marietta from 1960 – 1984, Marietta was a dominating force during the 60’s and 70’s — winning the Varsity Heavyweight 8 in 1963, 1966, and 1967. In 1967, Marietta swept the Dad Vail Regatta winning all three of the Heavyweight 8 races. Between the Men and Women’s program the program has won 46 Dad Vail Championships, in the following Categories:

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