By Elizabeth Walker
Despite its achievements, crew at Holy Cross
has had to work hard to keep itself afloat throughout its
35-year history at the College. In the 1965 Purple Patcher,
it was referred to as the “charity sport.”
“Not unlike a lot of other programs, we’ve come a long way,” said
Coach Tom Sullivan ’70, who, during crew’s fledgling years as a varsity
sport in the 1960s, participated with his teammates in a variety of fund-raising
efforts just to keep the program above the waterline. “Back when guys and
their dates would dress up and go to the football games, we used to sell mums
and programs to raise money for crew,” Sullivan said.
The mums initiative came after the green
stamps fund-raiser. After netting $800 for their newly organized
crew club by delivering newspapers to their classmates’ dormitory
rooms the year before, the 1965 crew team devised a new plan
to raise funds. Team members asked their dates, girlfriends,
parents and the alumni to help collect 700 books of trading
stamps, preferably green, to buy a boat and oars. By converting
the stamps into cash, the team was able to buy 20 pairs of
Olympic-style oars from Japan, according to an article in
the Worcester Evening Gazette. The team, which had been competing
in borrowed boats, bought its first shell in 1966 for $2,400.
The rowers cobbled together $350 in green stamps, a $500
donation from the Holy Cross Club of Worcester, $400 from
flowers and football programs, $150 from parents, $800 from
a minor sports drive on campus and $500 from the Holy Cross
Athletic Association. The champagne was cracked and the boat
was christened the Mamie Reilly.
These days, it takes more than green stamps
to buy boats. While the crew team’s
second boat, the Rev. Francis Hart, S.J., was purchased for $2,900, including
delivery, a new shell in this new century runs more than $22,500. The team
now has 10 boats of various ages, some named in honor or
in memory of family members,
former rowers or familiar Holy Cross figures. Then there is the Alumni II.
That shell is encircled by the names of the nearly 50 alumni
who contributed to its
All the boats, with their names emblazoned
on the side, give testimony to the great generosity of alumni,
parents and friends of Holy Cross crew.