Just under one year ago, the Drexel University women’s varsity eight boat became the fourth American school to win the coveted Sport Council Cup at the Henley Women’s Regatta in England.
On May 3, the women were still receiving accolades for that victory.
Recently inaugurated President John Fry was awarded with the first ever Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta Chairman’s Trophy in the Great Court of the Main Building. The President was all smiles receiving the award that recognized the team’s truly remarkable achievement. Gary Marshall of Aberdeen Asset Management, who sponsored the Dad Vail Regatta, presented the award.
“The 2010 Henley woman’s story reads like a fairytale,” Drexel athletic director Dr. Eric Zillmer said.
He has a point — the women went to England last June as underdogs, only to come out victorious in one of the most challenging and prestigious races in the world. Finishing the race at Henley in a stunning four minutes and 50 seconds to edge out Grand Valley State University, the women joined the elite rowing company of Yale University, Brown University and Radcliffe College as the only American schools to win the Sport Council Cup. So, it is no surprise the victory is still being recognized, and will forever be recognized as one of Drexel Athletics’ finest moments.
“It is very humbling to have all these organizations embrace us,” Zillmer said. “People want to embrace this team, Drexel crew, and the University in general.”
The members of the women’s varsity eight stood in front of a boat stretching halfway across the Great Court while the silver trophy shimmered in the lights. The trophy, a small silver cup, reflected the promise of Drexel crew and the direction in which it is heading.
“Drexel crew is growing and expanding much faster than in previous years,” senior member of the varsity eight boat Casondra Clawson said. “This award is about one race, but our program really is growing.”
Their success in the event has shown what one race can do for a program.
“It puts us in elite racing company,” Zillmer said. “It puts us into another orbit, an orbit we’d like to be in and compete in.”
Of course, the growth of the Drexel crew program cannot be entirely attributed to one race. The man responsible for the emergence of the team is head coach Paul Savell.
“Everyone’s goal is to get to Henley,” Savell, still beaming with pride for his team, said. “So, to win it is just amazing.”
The trophy presentation was a nice break for the athletes who have been rigorously training for the Dad Vail Regatta coming up on the Schuylkill May 13-14.
“We’ve been eating, breathing and sleeping rowing,” Clawson said.
The Dad Vail is one of the premiere rowing events in North America — if not in the world. Held on the Schuylkill River, the Dragons look to put on a show for their home crowd.
“We feel we have some good momentum going into the next two weeks,” Savell said. “The goal at Dad Vail is to have three great races.”
Some momentum for Dad Vail comes from the success the teams had at the Bergen Cup, where the men’s varsity eight took down Temple University to win the Bergen Cup for the first time in 31 years; the women, who finished second behind St. Joseph’s University, won the Kelly Cup.