On July 20-23 I attended my first Boston University Crew – Boys of Summer weekend which was subtitled “The Minnesota Mishap.” This past summer’s event was the eighth time that this event was run and was the first time that I had managed to make arrangements to attend. I had not been able to attend previous events because my family and I were usually in the UK or we didn’t have the financial means. I had a wonderful time catching up with my past teammates, joking and having a great time of fellowship.
It’s important to acknowledge the efforts of Adam McNeill who has lead the planning of these expeditions for the last eight years. Adam spends lots of time looking at schedules, booking restaurants, hotels and countless others things behind the scenes to make the weekend a success for us all. Also, he evaluates schedules, hotels, travel and more more to ensure a successful weekend for all. In addition to Adam’s efforts, there is also an executive committee from each class year composed of Jake Morton, Rob Rogers, Ian Ruegg, Dave Pagdett, Walt Swenton, Matt Tomlinson, Sean Corcoran and Josh Kingsley (close friend of Adam) who act as a sounding board for trip planning. It goes without saying that without Adam’s and the executive committee’s labor of love we wouldn’t have the opportunity to get together each year and catch up. We owe them much gratitude and thanks for their support and effort.
As the weekend progressed, I had the opportunity to talk with many in attendance. What impressed me was that those I spoke to were in positions of leadership. One was in charge of 200+ employees; one managed medical staff, another a team of sales experts and another was in the air force who had spent time in combat and teaching other pilots to fly. Although many of those in attendance were not rowing anymore, the lessons we learned in leadership, accountability and work ethic were apparent.
On Friday morning, I was brave enough to venture to the golf course to play eighteen holes with three others. Right off the bat, it was clear that my game needed a significant amount of work. What impressed me was that my friends gave me the tips to play better and never made me feel inadequate. They told me what I needed to know and still allowed me to make mistakes so that I could learn from them. On one hole, I managed to make par! I’m not sure I have ever done that on a golf course! It was an incredible and humbling experience that I won’t forget in a hurry.
On Friday afternoon we went to a British pub. Which in my opinion was not a real British pub because they had air conditioning! I had curry and chips with a couple of helpings of Guinness, so my experience was complete. At this pub, they had a bowling green which was fun to play on and improve my work with hand-eye coordination type sports (i.e., not rowing).
That evening we went to a Brazilian restaurant which was a real treat. The restaurant had two main ways to get food. The first was a salad bar where you could choose from all kinds of food, fish, vegetables, and fruit. We each achieved cardboard signs that were red on one side and green on the other. Servers circulated with skewers of different types of meat – Chicken, Pork, Sirloin, etc. If your card had the green side up, then they would ask you if you wanted the meet that they had. If so, they would cut some off and put on your plate. If your card was red side up then, you were not offered meat as you were probably working on something else. A perfect time to talk with some excellent food. I was so grateful for this experience.
On Saturday the plan was for us to take a brewery tour. We all boarded a bus and headed out. Our first stop was a burger joint. We sat down in a relatively crowded restaurant and were served a tasty burger with cheese on the inside. It certainly was a delicious burger.
Following this, we visited three breweries. I thought that a brewery tour was an actual tour around each brewery that would have an educational feel to it. The chemist in me was very excited about that. Alas, the tour was to order a pint from each of the three stops and partake in the chemistry of it all. That turned out to be not a bad option after all. I enjoyed my internal subsequent chemical reactions upon consumption of the pints and ultimately decided that this was more enjoyable than hearing someone discuss fermentation techniques.
We ended the Boys of Summer ‘17 with a trip to the baseball stadium to watch the Minnesota Twins play Detroit. Before the game, there was a reunion of the Twins team that won the world series thirty years ago. It was beautiful to hear speeches given by a few of the players. The fact that these men had overcome adversity, succeeded and were still friends who had grown older and stronger together was not lost on me.
It was a privilege to spend time with those that I rowed with in college. We are bonded together in a way that only rowers could understand. We had all experienced the Boston basin at 6 am in the morning ready to do some basin shots (8-10 minutes anaerobic threshold work) when it was cold with the rain pouring on our heads. We all had the experience of completing erg pieces on Saturday morning during the winters or giving up our spring break so that we could train for the spring season. Finally, we all know how challenging rowing on a Division I rowing team is (or any competitive rowing team for that matter). With that said, we all made a choice, and the benefits of that choice have provided us with the chance of a better future. We all work hard to make those around us better so that others might profit from the experience we were fortunate enough to have experienced. In short, the commitment that we have made to the sport and the shared suffering we all endured has provided a level of mutual respect and love for each other that persists today.
I hope to return to the Boys of Summer in future years. One of the guys said to me during the weekend, and it was a wonder that we didn’t call or text each other more. Point well-taken sir.
In conclusion, I am reminded of the Poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. If you have never read this poem, I provide it below. I hope it provides meaning for you as it has for me for a long time now.
If by Rudyard Kipling