1990s Alums Reunite for Row on Green Lake

It was cloudy but bright on Saturday morning as a group of 1990s alums met at the boathouse for a reunion row. One had just rowed that morning with her masters teammates; others hadn’t been in a shell in more than 20 years. All of them had rowed for Coach Dave Baugh, some in the 1994 National Championship-winning eight. Now they are simply known at Green Lake as “Dave’s Girls.”

Out on the water, they started by fours and sixes, then all eight as they shook off some rust. They practiced starts, showed off by rowing one-handed, and took some power tens. There were definitely signs they were starting to click once again. There were jokes and conversations – a no-no during their old practices – and plenty of blisters. Approaching the boathouse, they all decided on one more pass around the lake. After finishing the row, they settled in at a local coffee shop to catch up with each other and reminisce about their experiences at Green Lake. 

“I really appreciated that Green Lake taught us personal responsibility,” said Laura Smith Lee. “Every day, we were out sweeping the docks. We put our own boats together, no one did it for us.” 

Missy Calkins credits coach Dave with “toughening me up for the UW, where being on the men’s team scared me every day. He helped me find my sport, my confidence. Dave brought that out of me.” 

“Dave was tough but not tough at the wrong time. We always knew that he had our backs,” said Rachel Sullivan Robinson. “He would come down to the lake with all these graphs and charts with week by week plans for us. It was nice to know someone had a plan. It showed he cared.” 

All agreed that Dave, a former UW coxswain, excelled at teaching coxswains. “He really took the time to include us coxswains, not just the rowers,” said Missy. 

Cara Lauer brought up the Me Too movement and how damaging those kinds of experiences were and are for many girls. “Our experiences were the opposite. Life trajectories were changed at Green Lake in a positive way.” 

Dave passed away in 2010, but his spirit lives on in these women. “Dave was one of the most formative people in my life,” said Laura. “I carry him with me all the time. I learned so much about growing up from Dave.”

After Dave’s passing, the women who had rowed for him created a Dave Baugh Memorial Fund to support girls in rowing. Last spring, the women came together again to raise $25,000 for the new Green Lake Community Boathouse and a new eight-oared shell dedicated in his honor. They proudly rowed the Dave Baugh on Saturday as the years melted away. 

If your group of alumni would like to plan a reunion or fundraise together for the boathouse, please get in touch. Contact Jill MacCorkle at development@greenlakecrew.org.