The News Page: 2006 Open House

The rain let up for the important part of the day for the Lower Merion Open House at Bachelors. Parents began to arrive a little after 1pm and the freshmen parents were given tours of the boathouse from either their freshmen on the team or from an upperclassman.

It wasn't long into the Open House that the Lower Merion coaching staff was put to the test of rescuing a dog from the river. Apparently, the dog had run across Kelly Drive and then in between Malta's Boathouse and University Boathouse. It was there that it saw Coach Zach's dog, Scoop, retrieving different things from the river for fun. I am guessing the dog wanted in on the fun. The dog dove in and quickly realized that it had no way out. Coaches Mike Wood, Kate Freeland and Regan Broderick saw this while trying to organize five boats on the dock for the christening. Coach Wood and Junior Kevin Friedlander took a launch over to the other dock and began trying to get the dog to swim toward them as the dog was now underneath the apron of the University Boathouse dock. After several minutes the dog began to finally swim in their direction and finally got close enough for Kevin to grab it out of the water. Unfortunately, Kevin fell in but quickly recovered and finished lifting the completely exhausted dog out of the water. It is never boring at a Lower Merion function!!

Afterwards, it was time to get the party started with the cutting of the cake and then to the christening of the boats. Just before 2pm, it was finally confirmed that all the honored guests had arrived and no boat would be unchristened that day. We began with the former Athletic Director, Sean Hughes, who had rowed himself while attending LaSalle. Sean had brought with him his new baby son Jack and his wife Kristy for the occasion. Sean has brought so much to Lower Merion High School and has supported the LM Crew Team. He received his name on the brand new Vespoli 8+ that was purchased last year. Esther Novak, who has been Sean's assistant, also received her name on a new boat. Esther was graced with the Women's Varsity 4+ shell for her help always keeping people on track with regatta entry fees, coaches salaries and keeping a smiling face in and around Lower Merion.

Next boat was named by Kajsa Thompson for winning last years fundraising effort. After much pressure from the coach to get a name on the boat, she and the athletes agreed on the D.O.T. It does not stand for the Department of Transportation, but a nickname that they had given to Head Coach Brian Conley because of his former email address. Coach Conley is extremely humbled and honored for such a gift from the team. This boat will be the Women's Lightweight 4+ shell for the season.

Fourth on the list to be christened was the Michelle Gold. Michelle has been lovingly called the voice of Lower Merion Crew. Everyone knew her at the river and everyone knew her voice at the meetings. She has loved the sport ever since her daughter started rowing at LM. I had the priviledge of coaching her son Matthew for 2 years at Lower Merion. In honor of all the work that she had done with organizing parents and athletes and most importantly the buses every year, the Parent's Association agreed to name the Men's Varsity 4+ after her for all of her hard work.

Finally, the Men's Lightweight 4+ was the last boat to be christened. Coach Conley and his family was honored with having his father's name placed on the hull of the Men's Lwt 4+. As my mom said at the christening, my father was a fierce competitor and we all hope that it brings many a victory to the team. There are no words to say to the Parents and the Parent's Association that can describe our thanks for such an honor. My father would have loved it and absolutely loved coming and watching the races every Sunday. Even when he was extremely sick and weak, he would make an effort to show up and if he couldn't would call to see how the team did. I will always be grateful for this honor.

The rest of the day closed on finishing the food and cake, and speaking with coaches about their sons or daughters on the team. It was a fun ceremony and a great way for the parents to see what the athletes are going to everyday. Thank you all and see you at the Crew Social.

Brian Conley