"Rowing? In Nebraska?" The UNL Crew Club: 1969-1980

Project Editor:Joshua Vapenik, History 470: Digital History, Spring 2008

Table of Contents

About Rowing
The Team Today

Getting Started


Starting a rowing program in a Midwestern state where few people had ever heard of rowing, without a significant body of water nearby, and where money was nonexistent is an act which could be considered nearly impossible. Yet in 1969 a group of students from the University of Nebraska Lincoln decided to do just that. The challenges they faced were no joke, and in order to be successful, a team would have to be resourceful, dedicated, and extremely hardworking. In the following decade, original members would prove to be all this and even more. They would go on to become the second largest activity on campus, would win the Big 8 championship six years in a row, produce national team members and Olympic medalists, and earn the respect of established rowing programs across the nation.

It all began when UNL student named Allan Maybee saw a rowing event on television and decided that he would like to do the same thing. Though rowing is the oldest college sport in America, it was not then and still not widely known about today. When the UNL team was founded, the only other Big 8 conference school with a rowing team was Kansas State, though Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas had a team as well. Despite not knowing anything about the sport himself, Maybee decided to give it a go, and the rest is history.

This is the story of the origin of the University of Nebraska Lincoln Crew Club. Forty years ago a group of dedicated individuals came together to form what has become the largest club sport on campus. The success the team met with in their first decade is arguably the greatest it has ever experienced and truly a testament to what may be achieved despite all obstacles and hardships. They sacrificed of their time, money, and bodies for something that was often unquantifiable and seemed crazy to those around them. In order to understand why they did what they did, one only has to listen to the words of Nancy Wood, who coxed the first women's team in 1973, "There are really no tangible rewards in rowing. Rarely will a winning team receive a trophy or get a raving review on the sports page. Instead, we are content with knowing we've done the best we can and look forward to doing better next time. It may not seem like much of a reward to most sports fans, but we like it just the way it is" (Marshall, 1973).