By Elizabeth Walker
“God is smiling on Holy Cross crew,” Athletic
Director Richard Regan, Jr. ’76 told the crowd of nearly
100 student and alumni rowers, and coaches, parents and other
supporters gathered in April near the boathouse on Lake Quinsigamond
to dedicate two new sleek, black racing shells. “This
is the first time we’ve seen the sun all month,” Regan
said, giving full credit for the sunny afternoon to the special
guests, present in person or spirit, whose great generosity
provided the two new boats, plus another on its way.
The team and their head coach, Patrick Diggins ’86,
were smiling just as broadly back at the heavens. Their fortunes
were looking even brighter than the
day thanks to very generous gifts made recently to the Holy Cross crew program,
including several that will provide endowed funds for purchasing and replacing
shells when those boats can no longer race competitively. To provide replacement
boats and funds for full-time coaches, Diggins and long-time coach Tom Sullivan ’70
put together a plan to provide such funding through endowed or other gifts
to the program. The new plan, worked through with Regan and the Development
is already showing results, thanks to the great generosity of crew alumni,
parents and other supporters of the program.
One of the new boats, recently
dedicated, was purchased with funds from an
endowed gift from Thomas and Gerri Henwood, parents of former Holy Cross
Christine Henwood ’99. The Henwoods named their boat, the Emil and Eunice
Henwood, in honor of Tom’s parents. Henwood, a crew coach himself, spoke
of his “immense pride in Christine” and her accomplishments at
Holy Cross. He also told the crowd that his late father, Emil, was a national
rower, who competed both before and after World War II.
In fact, rowing to victory is a Henwood family
tradition that includes championship individual and team
performances by Tom and his brothers, Joe and Jim, who
were present, and by Christine and her sister, Patricia, who also attended
Tom Henwood took a moment to recognize the woman “beneath their oars,” his
mother, whose name is emblazoned on the new shell.
“I would like to introduce my mother, Eunice, and recognize her for the
great role she played supporting our efforts,” Henwood said. The two then “launched” the
gleaming Emil and Eunice Henwood with a thorough dousing of champagne.
The second boat dedicated, the William L.
Hennrikus Jr. ’78, was purchased
with a gift from its namesake. Hennrikus, today a pediatric orthopedic surgeon
in California, coached the men’s novice team after graduation. That year,
he rowed with Tim O’Connell ’78 to a gold medal in the Canadian
Henley. He was unable to make the trip for the
dedication. These days, Hennrikus is investing his spare hours in another
children’s soccer teams.
Diggins announced that a third boat has been
purchased with endowed funds provided by a young alumnus
rower who preferred to remain anonymous. That
be named the Dr. Bud in honor of former coach Francis P. “Bud” Ermilio ’81,
a Worcester chiropractor, who also attended the ceremony.
“Thanks to that endowed gift, a Dr. Bud will always be on the water for
Holy Cross,” Diggins said.
If all goes according to plan, the Holy Cross
men and women’s crew team
will be rowing to victory for seasons to come in boats as young, agile and fast
as the athletes who power them.