SEATTLE -- They will all soon wear red, white and blue, but there was a time that purple and gold dominated their wardrobe.
“As much as when I left the University of Washington, I thought my time as a Husky was done, like I was closing the door on that chapter and my next chapter would be, Megan Kalmoe – USA athlete. Really my road to and through my national team experience has been paved with Husky bricks,” Megan Kalmoe said.
Kalmoe will compete in the women’s quad sculls with former Husky teammate Adrienne Martelli.
Two more female Huskies, Katelin Snyder and Kerry Simmonds, are on the women’s eight.
They all admit they don’t keep their Husky heritage much of a secret, especially not Martelli who grew up near Tacoma.
“We take so much pride in it. I think that’s why we’re a little annoying to other people, but you know what, I don’t really care,” she laughed.
The men’s eight also has four Huskies. They remember national championships, but they also remember competitions, they say, we’re all better off not knowing much about.
“We were champions of the ironing board. We’ll just leave it at that,” Coxswain Sam Ojserkis smiled.
They learned commitment to teamwork, even when it didn’t feel so good, like when Ojserkis was bull’s eyed in on a national win.
“And I honestly hated him for that year. I was like, ‘he is so mean. I’m trying my hardest.’ There were practices where you’d wake up and you’re like, ugh, just so much self-pity,” Sam Dommer said.
Luke McGee coached them all at UW, and now rides beside them as their national team coach. They all had to earn a spot on this boat, he says, and he didn’t make his choice with “purple” colored glasses.
“I take a lot of pride in that,” McGee explained. “It’s almost like watching your kids grow up.”
Two of the men’s eight did actually grow up together rowing together in high school. Hans Struzyna and Rob Munn competed on Lake Sammamish - then crossed paths again at UW.
“I was a late bloomer, athletically and physically. I didn’t really grow until I was 17,” Struzyna said.
“I formed great bonds with my teammates outside of this group but I also know this bond has only gotten stronger,” Munn added.
Many of them credit their alma mater with the mental fortitude that’s perhaps more important than physical strength.
Snyder coxed the men’s eight while at UW.
"A lot of that was just learning to be commanding and learning to take control of a situation even if I wasn’t really sure what I was doing. I definitely didn’t know what I was doing my freshman year of college,” she said.
They may all row with American pride, but it is their Husky past that follows in their wake.
“So, the history there, you can feel it. Being a part of that, I think that’s very special and unique to UW,” Simmonds said.