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All In the Family

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By Andy Anderson

The Washburns, the first family of American high school coaching.

'::/As

the championship boys' eights event came down the course at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., on May 26, the top two seeds, Tabor and Andover, were battling it out

'Tm sure that there have been family matchups before, but this was special." . . :::::

as scripted. 1\vo weeks earlier, Tabor had bested Andover in a great race by 0.4 seconds. Now, in the New England finals, they led by a couple of seats coming into the last 20 strokes. As often happens in rematches between rivals, the other crew won this race. 'Vith precious few meters remaining on the 1,500-meter course, Andover took the race in the last few strokes, somehow getting their rate up higher than Tabor's and finishing a mere 0.23 seconds in front. Andover coach Peter Washburn hugged his counterpart, Tabor's Taylor Washburn. Yes, this had been a father/son battle. Dad had prevailed. I'm sure there have been family matchups before, but because of the closeness of these two races, this was special. (Of course, let's not forget that really it was a race between two good crews, not solely between coaches.) A case can certainly be made that the Washburns are the first family of American coaching. Grandfather Davis Washburn coached at St. Andrew's School in Delaware for 40 years. His sons, Peter, Andy, 64 ROWINGNEWS

and Tom, all rowed for him there before going on to row at Syracuse; all three have coached rowing at some point. But it is Peter who has followed most closely in his fatller's footsteps, teaching and coaching at the same school since 1980. He has led Andover to six championship seasons, all but one with his own boys on board. Taylor, the third of Peter and Kit's nine children, isn't the only Washburn to follow grandfather and father into a shell. Hunter, the oldest, stroked the Navy varsity lightweights for three years and the Andover varsity for another three. Spencer stroked Andover and the Princeton heavyweights. Taylor stroked the Andover varsity for three seasons, but did not stroke in college, moving back to seven seat in the Princeton varsity lightweight eight for two years. Parker stroked Andover for three years and is bow in the Harvard varsity heavyweight eight. 'Walker stroked the Navy ]V lightweights this past spring. There are two sisters who do not row and two more boys on the way. Think they'll stroke? I asked Peter why all of his boys have ended up setting the rhythm. "What other seat is there?" he said, smiling. Taylor said, "My father always made it very clear to us that we were going to have to earn the seat and we were going to have to make it very clear that we were right for the job. He said, 'You can't be the number eight guy in the boat; that would raise questions. You're going to have to be unquestionable.' It did add some pressure." But back to tlle racing this spring. It's strange enough when someone coaches against

their old coach. You know their system. You know where they're likely to make moves and what they emphasize in a race. What happens when that rival is your father? Taylor said, "I did not game plan specifically for Andover, but modeled our training and the emphasis of our race off of what I did when I was in school. As a result, we probably had similar crews, at least in their mindsets when they raced. I would say that the way my crew races is largely influenced by the way I raced in high school (and college). Perhaps even down to the specific pushes, though, I won't give specifics away." Peter points out that coaching against each other has happened before in the Washburn family. "My oldest son, Hunter, rowed at Navy and then went

back for a year to coach the plebe lights. At the same time, my second, Spencer, was coaching the freshman lightweights at Princeton. That same year, Hunter was coaching Walker, who was a plebe, and they were racing against Princeton. I did not go to that race, although Kit did. Spencer moved to coach the freshman heavies at Princeton at the same time that Parker was rowing for the freshman heavies at Harvard. "So this is not the first time that we have raced against each other. We are all competitive and like winning, but in the end that is not the ultimate goal for us. There are many ways of winning in our sport and at the end of the year there are a lot ofwinners and a lot of programs who have had velY successful P" seasons and experiences."

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~Standing up are father Peter and son Taylor. sitting

is brother Hunter.

'l

Rowing News - The Washburns  

The Washburn Family is profiled.

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