On Saturday, October 29th, 2016, the Penn Men’s Lightweight Rowing team celebrated the arrival of a new shell in preparation for the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta. The shell was officially named “Send It, Willie” in honor of long time bus driver for the program, Willie Glymph. The celebration was a culmination of efforts spearheaded by Steve Hartman C’87 W’87 and Bill Gallagher C’87 in coordination with Men’s Lightweight graduates from the 1980s. The ceremony was a joyous affair, with the Penn Glee Club serenading Willie’s return to the boathouse for the first time in many years.
Penn Men’s Lightweight Rowing Coach Colin Farrell kicked off the festivities with a welcome to those who were back in the boathouse to support the program, and to celebrate the new shell coinciding with Willie’s return. "We're tremendously excited about the new shell,” commented Coach Farrell after the event. “To have Willie there to see the boat himself and hear how much of an impact he made on the program was a special moment. So many people are part of the proud tradition of the Penn Lightweight Crew. It was a great day to see the classes of the 1980s come back to Madeira, meet with the current rowers, and continue to contribute to the program."
After Coach Farrell, both Hartman and Gallagher took the stage. They spoke on the effort it took from the alumni base to come up with the fundraising to make this shell a reality, and took time to thank all those involved who made a difference. In addition, Steve and Bill were able to touch upon Willie’s importance to the program. In particular, they marveled at his consistency. They were astonished by Willie and how every day he showed up to work and provided them a security blanket, which they still cherish to this day. “It was such an incredible experience rallying all the rowers and coxswains of our era around this effort,” Gallagher remarked. “It not only brought us all closer together but allowed us to reconnect with someone who none of us had seen in years. Someone who had a real impact on all of us during our time at Penn. Willie was always a strong, positive influence on us and someone who we knew was quietly looking out for and taking care of us all those years.”
Current Lightweight Captains Zach Howell C’17 and Sam Ward W’17 then took the podium and commented on the current standing of the program and the direction the team is heading under Coach Farrell. They were effusive in their gratitude for the new shell, which will impact the program immensely moving forward.
Bruce Konopka W’78 then spoke about the importance of staying connected to the program, and gave a historical perspective to the lightweight team. He also touched on Willie’s importance to the program, and how he was an essential cog in the team’s success.
Pastor Joe Watkins then led the procession of the blessing of the boat before it was placed into the Schuylkill for its first race.
Finally, Willie Glymph was able to take the stage and share his thanks for the dedication in his name. He was overwhelmed by the generosity of all those involved who made this day so special to him.
At the conclusion of the dedication, the alumni boat took off in the “Send It, Willie,” and participated in the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta.
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