On Saturday of Charles Weekend, the Regatta dedicated three new trophies, naming them for Linda Muri, Marcia Hooper, and the U. S. Women's Olympic Eights.
All three trophies dedicated this year were for Women's events, part of the Regatta's commitment to making sure that there are trophies for both the women's and men's champions in each event, and that the trophies are added with an eye towards covering club, masters, para, and youth races as well as the Champ events. They plan to add three trophies a year until every event winner has a trophy to hoist when they get the coveted HOCR medals.
The Linda Muri Trophy goes to the winning Women's Collegiate Champ Four, the Marcia Hooper Trophy to the winning Women's Club Four, and the winning Women's Alumnae Eight will receive The U. S. Women's Olympic Eight Trophy--named, collectively, for all the women who have represented the USA in the eight at the Olympics since it was added for the 1976 Montreal Games.
Muri herself is a bold-face name in both American rowing and particularly here in Boston: an MIT graduate and 9-time National Team member, she coached at both Simmons College and later with the lightweight Freshmen at Harvard, and was President and Director of the CRASH-Bs--in addition to coaching light men at Cornell and a stint as the head coach of the Dartmouth Women. She is also, with long-time boat mate C.B. Sands, a 16-time HOCR winner.
Marcia Hooper, the immediate past Chair of the USRowing Board, has long been a force in supporting and advocating for the sport at both the national level and here at the Charles: she was the Managing Director of the Regatta and served on the HOCR board for 15 years, in addition to her two terms on the USRowing Board and her current works as co-chair of the National Rowing Foundation. She helped launch Brown Women's Crew in the 1970s as an undergrad, and is recognized as one of the "Founding Mothers" of the program.
The U. S. Women's Olympic Eight Trophy was accepted on Saturday by four members of the 1976 and 1980 Olympic Eights, on behalf of all the women to race the Eight at for the USA at a Games. Three-time Olympian Carol Brown and two-time Olympians Carol Bower and Peggy McCarthy Bailey were joined by their 1980 Olympic coxswain Holly Hatton to dedicate the trophy, just hours after they raced in memory of their recently-deceased teammate from the 1980 crew, Carie Graves, who rowed in three Olympics, all in the Women's Eight: 1976, 1980, and 1984.
After the ceremony, row2k caught up with Muri, Hooper, and Brown from the on the honor of these trophy dedications.
"It's hard to wrap my mind around," said Muri, who has spent nearly her whole career on the Charles, from rowing as an undergrad at MIT, to training for the National team, to coaching at Harvard to racing--and winning--the Charles year on year with Cambridge Boat Club.
"Representation--that's what I think about with this, and that makes me really proud to be tied into this," Muri said. "Representation is so important. I'm humbled that there is a boat of all women of color racing this year and that I'm part of the same regatta today that they are--and I look forward to the day when it's not a big deal - as when I was coaching men or even when I was coaching women, that it is not a big deal."
The Head of the Charles has made increasing representation and access to the event a cornerstone of its growth over the years that Muri has raced here, and won her 16 HOCR titles.
"They're recognizing Para events as part of the regatta now, and I think that's really important," Muri said. "When I was running CRASH-Bs, we brought in the first Para events, and that was important to me to do that. And we do the Head of the Quinobequin, which is a youth race--all ways we can get more people rowing.
"Anytime you can bring awareness is important. The Head Of The Charles is doing a good job. Everybody can always do more; we're not there yet. But I think it's important to recognize the steps along the way."
Hooper called it "quite an honor to have a trophy at the Head of the Charles named after me."
"I am so proud to have the Women's Club Four named for me as it encompasses all of my areas of involvement in the sport of rowing - national team, collegiate, and club. National team involvement includes my current work as co-Chair of the National Rowing Foundation and my past work as a board member and past Chair of USRowing. At the collegiate level, I have been involved with my alma mater Brown University starting as a "Founding Mother" of Brown Women's Crew (BWC) in the late 1970's and currently serve as current President of the Friends of BWC. Lastly, I have been a long-term member of Cambridge Boat Club and know first-hand how important vibrant local clubs are to our sport."
Carol Brown spoke on behalf of the Olympians who accepted the dedication on Saturday, and the larger group of Women's Eight alumnae:
"Recognizing the US Olympic Women's Eights with this HOCR trophy is a very meaningful tribute to the incredible family of women who have raced at that top level with USA on their backs," she said.
"In 1976, we were 'babes in the woods' and then in 1980, when we were prepared to take on the world, the boycott denied us that opportunity. The 1980 team, men and women, have remained connected and active participants in the HOCR for now more than 40 years. The 1980 teams race as their own entities but we hope that many more members of US Olympic Women's Eights will continue racing in the HOCR in some capacity.
"We were honored to be asked to participate in the trophy dedication and medal ceremony for the Women's Alumnae Eights and know that we were representing ALL US Women's Olympic eights. Although we were all from the 1980 eight, there is so much overlap from 1975-1984 that we feel like one group of US Rowing pioneers."
"We are humbled to have been part of the launch of successful US Women's 8's and stand in awe of the many podium finishes of those who came in our footsteps. I also think I speak for the whole group in saying we didn't like having to compete with little support and against the Eastern Bloc athletes, but the commitment required now to even aspire to a seat in a US Women's 8+ is daunting!"
The dedication of all three of these Women's event trophies comes, of course, in this 50th anniversary year of Title IX and amid all the growth in the sport that the law created, a fact Brown noted.
"It is so exciting for those of us who were among the first women to get to race in the HOCR--I first raced it with Princeton in 1972--to see how many women's entries there are now in the 50+ and 60+ events: more women than were rowing in the whole country back in the early 70's and pre-Title IX. "The early national team/Olympic team women are well represented but the growth in women's rowing and the fact that so many women have taken up the sport as masters is special and makes us realize all our battles were impactful!"
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