On Saturday, May the 4th, at the home of Tom Dorosewicz and Michelle Pius, the San Diego State Men’s Crew had its annual banquet. Organized by Tom, Michelle, Eric, and Marisa Barge, the patio was vibrantly decorated (see photos); There were a dozen Aztec oars in evidence, a red carpet going into the house, an on-going photo/slide show, red, white, and black table clothes, and examples on display of the numerous shirts won this season by Aztecs in various boats.
After an excellent meal, everyone sat back for a few minutes of reflection upon the past season and for the awarding of individual honors, voted upon by the athletes themselves. The program began with a call to order by Eric Barge, President of the H. Del Beekley Rowing Foundation. Eric has devoted an incredible amount of time to the program throughout the years – rowing, coaching, fundraising, and , now, leading the Alumni support group – and it was only fitting that his good friend Josh Gruenberg named a new shell after him this season!
After noting the excellent, paradigm-changing season behind us, Eric introduced Lawson Navarro, outgoing Team President. Lawson delivered a sort of state-of-the-team speech and, most importantly, included some emotion-filled reflections upon what Aztec Crew has meant to him. Lawson was finishing off his third year of participation on the team that night, and he noted that when he began there were barely enough men to fill an 8 … and that now, the season finished with five Coxswains and 36 Oarsmen on the charts! Then too, Lawson reflected upon the improvement in the quality of the racing that was turned in by this season’s team.
Then, Lawson introduced Anthony Alaan, the incoming Team President. The team officers are elected each year by the athletes themselves, and are given substantial responsibilities for the fundraising and administration of the season. The Incoming electees for the 2013-2014season are Anthony Alaan (President), Scott Gerdes (Vice President), Brandt Watson (Treasurer), and Matt Stewart (Secretary). Their responsibilities begin almost immediately, with helping to finish off the administration of the team budget for 2012-2013 and planning for the recruitment drive of this coming fall.
Anthony reflected briefly upon the season, and then introduced Coach Perez. Doc briefly noted the Novice season’s accomplishment as a team, and then proceeded to present the perennial trophy for the season’s “Winningest Team” to the Novice Men’s 8. This crew defeated 15 crews over the course of the season, and ended up 4th at the W.I.R.A. Championships in Sacramento – posting a time that would have easily won the Varsity Petite Final! Then, Doc proudly named off the crews that the Aztec “A” boat had defeated; British Columbia, Oregon, UCD, Washington State, Sacramento State, UCSB, Long Beach State, USC, UC Irvine, Chapman, UCSD, Arizona State, Loyola, Puget Sound, and USD. Finally, Coach Perez announced the awards presented to individual Novice team members = again, voted upon by the athletes.
Jessica Santos – to our knowledge, the first woman ever to receive this honor – was voted to have her name placed upon the Captain’s Trophy as the “Novice Team Captain.” Jessica’s leadership and commitment to the team, not to mention her Coxing ability, has reaped many rewards for us all. Kevin O’Mara was voted to be the Most Improved Novice this year. Kevin accomplished amazing things as a member of the 1st Novice 8 (often the Stroke), and his achievements this season are especially noteworthy given the fact that he went to a high school without a sports program! Ryan Williams, the possessor of a national caliber ergometer score in his first year, was named “Most Promising Novice” by the team. This 23 year old Freshman, a former member of the U.S. Navy, has in a few short months impressed everyone and helped to set the sights of the team on some very, very lofty long-term goals.
Coach Perez then introduced Coach Robison who reviewed the Varsity season. Noting not only the expansion of the team in terms of numbers of participants over the past year, but also its racing accomplishments, Coach Robison rightly singled out the Varsity Lightweight 8. This crew lived up to Aztec lightweight traditions now more than a generation old. They won two cup races (at Newport and at Sacramento), and added another chapter to our Aztec tradition of lightweight excellence. With no Seniors in the boat, the future looks very, very bright for this lightweight group = Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Champions!
An individual award went to Kameron Kennington, who was voted by this highly successful lightweight crew to have his name placed on the Captains Trophy. One of those people who never missed a stroke, Kameron’s leadership has helped greatly to propel the crew through this amazing year. Jesse Robles was named “Most Improved Varsity Oarsman” largely due to his efforts in the Varsity 4+ that finished the season on such a high note at Newport (2nd), Chapman (30 second victory), and Sacramento (4th in the Petites). And finally, the ultimate Aztec honor = the H. Del Beekley Award = was given to Mike Buckel, in his third year on the crew. Not only is Mike a tough boat mover, but he has been Captain before … and is the kind of person who “gets it all done” for Aztec Rowing, year in and year out. To add to the celebration, Mike’s father (told of the award in advance) flew across the country to be there!
Taken together, the almost 100 attendees had a grand evening. Thanks go once again to Tom and Michelle for opening up their home to such a large group of revelers, and to Eric and Marisa for a season’s worth of support at regattas and formal events!