Green Lake Crew first went on the water on May 15th, 1948. Described only as “the junior rowing program” or “high school boys rowing” in the earliest days, and later “Seattle Junior Rowing” and “Seattle Junior Crew,” the “Green Lake Crew” moniker came into consistent usage somewhere in the 1970s to 1980s. GLC’s origin story — and how it has flourished for seven decades — is a tale very much grounded in the culture of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. Rowing in the Pacific Northwest has always been a sport for all, attracting in its earliest days the sons and daughters of the working classes as well as those with greater means. The community-based, accessible clubs of today throughout the Pacific Northwest owe much to the hard-working, humble founders of more than a century ago.

Ours is a unique story of breaking barriers, of a community dedicated to getting kids on the water, of a special relationship with Seattle Parks and of the incredible dedication of a long list of passionate rowers, coaches, and volunteers. It is also a story starting an exciting new chapter after 75 years. The tale has touched nearly everyone who has picked up an oar in Seattle in one way or another. Yet most are unaware that our story started much earlier…and had its debut on an entirely different body of water. 

After the stunning success of the 1936 UW Varsity Crew’s gold medal victory in the Berlin Olympics (as told in Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat), coach Al Ulbrickson was thinking about a rowing program in Seattle’s high schools. He knew if his recruits came with some experience they would have a better start as freshmen in the ASUW Shell House. Ulbrickson loaned his 16mm films of the 1936 crew for showing in the schools. Rowing was hugely popular and enthusiasm was high for the idea, with support from parents, community leaders, and UW rowing alums who wanted to pass on their love of the sport. 

In 1940, Tom C. Logan (UW ’32), an assistant coach at the UW, headed up a committee at the Seattle Junior Chamber of Commerce in making preliminary plans. Green Lake, with its lack of motorized boats, was considered good water for practice and for 1000 meter races. The Seattle Parks board was supportive, the UW offered three used shells, and an architect drew up plans for a shell house on the eastern shore. But no one could figure out how to finance the project, and ultimately the realities of WWII caused the plans to be shelved.

After the war, planning began again in earnest. In 1946, urged on by the Parent Teacher Association, the Seattle Junior Rowing Commission was established, led by Alex Shults, the Seattle Daily Times sports editor. Shults recruited Clarence Massart, president of the Wallingford chapter of the Associated Boys Clubs and later president of the Seattle City Council, and Joel Woelfert, a sheriff’s deputy and director at the Greenwood chapter of the Boys Clubs. They were joined by representatives of the Young Men’s Business Club and the YMCA. Al Ulbrickson provided guidance. But the question of how to finance the program still remained. The solution came from a different sport: bowling!

Bowling was a wildly popular sport itself at the time. During WWII, a city-wide “Big 50” tournament was created to raise money for the war effort. No longer needed as a fundraiser after the end of the war, Shults and other bowlers hit on the idea of repurposing the tournament as a fundraiser for junior crew. In 1947, the Big 50 tournament raised $1500 which financed the building of a training barge for the new program. Materials shortages kept it from being completed that year, delaying the launch of rowing on Green Lake until 1948. In August 1947, eager to start but unable to row on Green Lake as planned, the very first group of boys — almost 200 of them — received a two-day introduction to rowing on Lake Washington instead, using the UW barge “Old Nero.” (The Big 50 continued as GLC’s funding source for many years. In the 1948 tournament, some well-known oarsmen were tournament sponsors: Roger Morris, Charles Day, Gordon Adam, Johnny White, and Joe Rantz of the 1936 UW crew.) 

With the completion of the juniors’ barge in early 1948 — named “Ten Pins” in honor of the bowlers who funded it — Green Lake Crew was nearly ready to launch. Al Ulbrickson arranged to loan several shells and sets of oars, and recommended as head coach UW oarsman (and future UW lightweight coach) Chuck Moriarty. Moriarty recruited Frank Cunningham, who had settled in Seattle after graduating from Harvard. In 1947, Cunningham had stroked the Crimson varsity to a record-setting victory in a 12-boat national regatta on Lake Washington, where the two had met. Chuck and Frank agreed to share the responsibilities of carrying out Ulbrickson’s training program for the junior boys, aided by a slew of past and present UW rowers, including Johnny White, 4-seat in the 1936 gold medal crew. Green Lake’s first junior crews launched in spring 1948. Using a borrowed launch and a quickly constructed wooden shell house purpose-built on the grounds of the Kon-Roy Boat Club at the east side of the lake, GLC was now a reality.

Moriarty (d. 1999) would go on to the state legislature in Olympia, where he served as minority floor leader before returning to private practice in Seattle. Cunningham (d. 2013) would continue to coach the junior crew program at Green Lake until 1968 as well as acting as its first boatman. He was critical to the program’s survival and growth in those years, buying GLC’s first 4+ (along with a wherry and a single) with his own funds. Along the way, Frank became a founding father of Lake Washington Rowing Club and a Northwest rowing icon.

GLC has innovated and led throughout the decades that followed. Junior women’s rowing joined the boys in 1963, nearly a decade before the passage of Title IX. Green Lake Adult Crew was founded in 1987, and Green Lake and Mt. Baker have co-hosted both USRowing’s national convention and the Masters National Championship Regattas. Of course there have been setbacks along the way: GLC survived nearly total boathouse destruction in the Nisqually Earthquake in 2001, and the pandemic brought a fresh set of challenges as all city programs shut down. But this is a program built on strength and adaptability, qualities which have seen us through a full 75 years and promise to carry us well into the future. 

As it moves into its ‘second seventy-five,’ the energy at GLC has never been higher. Continuing the effort to break down barriers and get more kids (and adults) on the water, the new Green Lake Community Boathouse will open in early 2024, allowing expansion of all the boating programs that call the lake home.

For more on the history of our program and its impact, we invite you to watch 70 Years of Pulling Together below, and read some of the highlights in our timeline, a constant work in progress. If you have corrections, photos, or stories to add, please see the contact form at the bottom of this page.

Frank Cunningham, co-founder
1959's 4+ after beating a Lake Washington Rowing Club boat for the right to represent Seattle at US Nationals, which served as time trials for the PanAm Games. They went on to win the gold medal at the Games in Chicago.

1940s & '50s


Led by Seattle Daily Times sports editor Alex Shults and under guidance of UW crew coach Al Ulbrickson, Seattle Junior Rowing Commission is formed with representatives from Associated Boys Clubs, YMCA, and Young Men’s Business Club.

City-wide Big Fifty bowling tournament raises $1500 for fledgling program.

Wooden shell house to hold donated equipment from UW is constructed on east side of Green Lake on grounds of Konroy Boat Club concessionaire, near today’s swimming beach.

George Pocock produces plans for exact copy of UW training barge “Old Nero” for the junior rowers. Edison Vocational School (now Seattle Central College) students begin construction, but material shortages delay completion – and official launch of rowing on Green Lake – until 1948.


The barge “Ten Pins,” named in honor of the Seattle Bowling Association, launches on Green Lake.

Green Lake Crew begins on-water operations with Charles “Chuck” Moriarty (UW ’51, ’94) and Frank Cunningham (Harvard ’47) as volunteer co-coaches. Al Ulbrickson provides oversight of training program.

Dorothy Loewy, local secretary, donates a 16-foot motor boat to SJRC before moving to New York. Long tradition of coaches zipping around Green Lake in launches is assured.



Contractor for Aqua Theater constructs shell house at southwest corner of the lake. Labor and materials donated to the city and valued at $50,000. GLC uses Aqua Theater showers and locker facilities.


Carl Lovsted (GLC ’48) represents US at Olympics in Helsinki, winning bronze in UW 4+.


Parks Department initiates practice of paying GLC head coach.

Spring season rowing added to program.

1958: Between heats of the Seafair Gold Cup hydroplane races on Lake Washington, GLC rows in an exhibition race vs. Iolani High School, a private school in Honolulu. The UW loans two shells for the race, the John Bracken (GLC) and the Quinault (Iolani). GLC, coached by former UW oarsmen Don Voris and John Halberg, wins by a half length. The boys in the boat: Tom Alberg (stroke), Jim Reese, Frank Coyle, Don Parmenter, John Holmstrom, Doug Jackson, Lynn Caldwell, Tim Williams, Paul Jackson (cox).

1959: Parks Department purchases first rowing shell for program from George Pocock, a 4+.

GLC travels to Hawaii to race against multiple Hawaiian high school crews, sweeping all five of their 4+ races.

A Green Lake 4+ composed of Roy Rubin, Mike Yonker, Chuck Holtz, Leroy Jones and Ray Walker (cox), beat out one of Lake Washington’s boats to earn the right to go to US Nationals in Detroit, where they win. The teens are the darlings of the Pan Am Games in Chicago, where they cap their cinderella story with a gold medal.


1960: Green Lake travels to Hawaii for rematch with Iolani; this continues for two more years.

Roy Rubin (GLC ’60) and Mike Yonker (GLC ’60) represent US in the 4+ at 1960 Olympics in Rome.

1961: Green Lake competes at National Schoolboy Championships in Washington, DC (finishing 8th in the nation).

First Summer Regatta held at Green Lake (now known as Summer Extravaganza). Still the oldest continually-running youth regatta in Western US (adding adults in the 1980s). 

1962: First Spring Regatta held at Green Lake.  

1963: Girls’ rowing program initiated as part of Green Lake Crew with C. Kent Carlson as first coach. Original plan for recreational program fades as girls become very competitive.

1964: First Frostbite Regatta held at Green Lake. 

Juniors paint the “G” on apron outside shell house for first time.  Parks Department is not pleased!

GLC alum Ted Mittet wins bronze medal at Tokyo Olympics, in bow seat of a Lake Washington Rowing Club coxless four with Ted Nash, Geoff Pickard, and Dick Lyon. 

1965: Frank Coyle assume role of head girls coach; girls 4+ wins inaugural West Coast High School Championship at Green Lake.

Earthquake extensively damages shell house.  As part of repairs, shell house capacity expanded and paved “apron” to north of building is constructed.

Boys 4+ with Dee Walker, Greg Miller, Gerry Tsutakawa, Dan Roulst, and Doug Carmichael (cox) misses medaling at the Canadian Henley Regatta by a mere four feet.

1966: GLC and Lake Washington Rowing Club host first annual National Women’s Rowing Association Regatta at Green Lake, providing a major boost to women’s rowing in the Northwest. This was first fully-sanctioned women’s championship rowing regatta in the US, and featured seven crews, including girls and women from Pennsylvania, Oregon, and California.

Girls lightweight 4+ and lightweight 8+ win National Championships.

Budget for entire program is $2,700.

1967: Girls lightweight 4+, lightweight 8+, novice 1x win the NWRA National Championships at Lake Merritt in California.

Shell house named in honor of Seattle City Council President Clarence Massart on his retirement.

1968: Forward Thrust bond issue approved by King County voters includes funding to remodel shell house at Green Lake to provide continuing “boating opportunities for youth.”

Girls team travels three days by train to compete in NWRA National Championships held in Philadelphia, PA.

Seattle Canoe & Kayak Club is formed and makes Green Lake their home.

1969: Green Lake is once again site for US Women’s National Rowing Association’s national championships with 13 clubs competing.

Ellen Ortblad becomes head girls’ coach, the first woman to coach at GLC and a four-year alum of the program; Carol Hiltner, a two-year veteran, is the sculling coach.

On May 11, Led Zeppelin plays concert at Aqua Theater during a regatta. Finish line is filled with swimmers and rowboats. Concert-goers climb onto shell house, break a skylight and steal (and damage) training barge. Coach Les Eldridge is no longer a Zeppelin fan.

GLC 4+ after winning the Alpha Delt cup. Photo courtesy Doug Carmichael.
Kent Carlson coaches a group of GLC girls in the "Ten Pins" rowing barge.
GLC boys load a shell onto the roof of a bus for the GLC girls' trip to the National Women's Rowing Association Regatta in Oakland, June 1967. Photo courtesy Lisa Van Horn, GLC '75-'77
Kathy Lazara (Whitman) and Green Lake girls
West Coast 8s Champions, 1977


1970: Kathy Lazara begins coaching as assistant girl’s coach.

1972: Green Lake again hosts the United States National Women’s Rowing Association national championships; repeats in 1978 and 1985.

1975: Boys head coach Greg Miller (UW ’70) takes team to Corvallis (via yellow school bus) where boys sleep on floor of Corvallis Boys and Girls Club and race against collegiate teams on Willamette River.

1976: Fall rowing offered (Greg Miller and Kathy Lazara Whitman coaches) three days/week from September through November.  Cost: $5.00 per student.

Pacific Northwest Regional Championships held at Green Lake

1977: Gil Gamble (UW ’75) becomes boys head coach.

1978: Green Lake Crew athletes Patty Bulger, Tori Laughlin, Marcy Pravitz, Shyril O’Steen, and Molly McDonald are selected for first U.S. Junior National Girls rowing team to represent at Junior World Championship in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Kathy Lazara Whitman is coach of the eight and pair. DeWitt Whitman is boatman for the team.

Boys travel to Klamath Falls, OR for West Coast Championships; Lightweight 8+ crowned West Coast Champions for fourth year in a row.

1979: Green Lake hosts first Ted Houk paddling regatta.

Rowing Advisory Council (RAC) formed to handle daily finances and team projects of program; Seattle Junior Rowing Commission continues to work behind scenes with major funding efforts.


1980: GLSCC takes on present physical configuration.

Forward Thrust remodel of Green Lake Small Craft Center includes removal of large portion of Aqua Theater; portion that remains is a “modern ruin,” along theme of Colosseum in Rome.

Rowing program relocated to Magnuson Park for year of construction. A warehouse on east shore is used for storage adding a lengthy trek as boats are carried to public boat launch.

New building to house sailing and canoe/kayak programs is constructed. This structure also houses GLSCC office and locker space for coaches.

Shell house floor “footprint” remains unchanged, but double launch house is added and ceiling height is increased. A new dock (#2) is added. Shell house remodel intended to utilize walls and floor of original building, however, when old roof is removed, primary west wall falls down and has to be replaced; only original floor remains from 1951 building.

1984: Shyril O’Steen, GLC ’77, wins gold at 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles in women’s 8+.

Rowing Advisory Council (RAC) becomes legal successor to Seattle Junior Rowing Commission which is disbanded.

Collegiate Women’s National Championships are held on Green Lake.

Masters (i.e., adult) rowing program initiated.

Green Lake boys win USRA Championships in 4x, 2x (U16), and lightweight 4+ at Los Gatos, CA.

1985: Green Lake is site for United States National Women’s Rowing Association’s national championships.

Ed Maxwell begins coaching at Green Lake

Green Lake girls 8+ wins San Diego Crew Classic and go on to win again in 1986, 1987, and 1988.

1986: Green Lake hosts USRA Masters Nationals.

In June Green Lake is closed to swimmers, and rowing is briefly suspended, after reports of alligator sightings in the lake. On June 2, two two-and-a-half-foot long caimans are removed from lake and given to Woodland Park Zoo.  New mascot for Summer Regatta is found!

1987: Green Lake Adult Crew (GLAC) recognized by RAC as representative of masters rowing concerns.

1988: Green Lake hosts USRA Northwest Rowing Championships.

Green Lake boys travel to San Diego for Crew Classic. They soon join girls in West Coast dominance, winning the 8+ in 1989, 1990, and 1991.

Boys 8+ and 4+ win the 1988 National Youth Rowing Championships.

1989: Chuck Desiderio begins his long tenure under DeWitt Whitman as boatman at Green Lake.

1994 National Youth Rowing Champions


1991: Jason Frisk begins as program director at Green Lake.

1993: Masters women’s team places first in the 8+ at USRowing National Championships in Vancouver, WA.

1994: Green Lake’s masters women repeat gold medal showing in 8+ at National Championships in Augusta, GA.

Girls 8+ win 1994 National Youth Rowing Championships under head coach Dave Baugh.

Inaugural fundraising auction ‘Raisin’ of the Green’ held. The tradition, which continues to this day, is estimated to have raised more than $1M for scholarships and equipment in support of program.

Green Lake Crew featured in film ‘Mad Love’ by Touchstone Pictures, starring Drew Barrymore and Chris O’Donnell. Many crabs are caught on purpose for the camera.

1995: It’s a three-peat! Masters women take gold again in 8+ at Nationals in St. Paul, MN.

New sailing program started with help from Sailing Foundation, twelve sailboats purchased; sailing fleet has grown since to 18 boats.

1998: Coby Stites begins coaching at Green Lake as masters coach, then moves to girls head coach position. 2018 marks his 20th year coaching at GLC.

Green Lake boys win lightweight 8+ at National Youth Rowing Championships.

Green Lake boys travel to Boston for Head of the Charles for first times


2000: Green Lake hosts USRowing Masters Nationals.

Green Lake boys win V8+ and V1x (Cooper Lange) National Youth Rowing Championships. 

Lianne Bennion Nelson (GLC ‘91) represents US at 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.  In 2004 she wins silver medal at Athens Olympics.

2001: Shell house is heavily damaged by Nisqually Quake

2002: Green Lake boys win V8+ National Youth Rowing Championships

Green Lake lightweight girls win 8+ National Youth Rowing Championships.

2005: Green Lake boys go to England and compete for first time at Henley Royal Regatta.

2006: Green Lake hosts USRowing Masters Nationals.

GLC girls win the Henley Peabody Cup


2013: RAC meets with Seattle Parks leadership to develop strategy to replace Small Craft Center.

2017: Kathy Lazara Whitman retires as Director of Aquatics at Seattle Parks Department, ending more than 40 years of service to youth rowing.

After 32 years Ed and Karen Maxwell retire from Green Lake.

Pheobe Marks-Nicholes (GLC ’14) coxes UW women to V8+ win at NCAA Championships.  The UW women sweep the field.

Arne Landboe (GLC ’14) named captain of UW men’s team. Phoebe and Arne are just two in long line of successful GLC/UW rowers, as Al Ulbrickson foresaw more than half a century earlier.

2018: Green Lake girls go to England and win Peabody Cup at Henley Women’s Regatta.

Nearly 400 alumni, coaches, and supporters celebrate 70th Anniversary of program at Museum of History & Industry.


Two construction hardhats sit on grass, one has a Green Lake Crew logo and the other has a Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club logo. Behind the hardhats are two shovels, one painted like a GLC oar and the other with SCKC's logo.
Groundbreaking ceremony for the new boathouse takes place in September 2022


2020: COVID shuts down Seattle Parks. Coby Stites arranges for GLC to row small boats out of College Club until city re-opens.

2021: GLC girls are first American junior women’s 8+ to race at Henley Royal Regatta in Prince Phillip Challenge Cup.

Scott Selfridge retires from coaching after 16 years of rowing and coaching at GLC.

Jason Frisk, longtime director of programs, retires after 30 years with Seattle Parks.

Haley Yeager, GLC alum, former UW rower and coach, takes over as head coach of boys program.

2022: Green Lake girls experienced team sweeps USRowing Northwest Junior Regional Championships.

GLC alum Alina Hagstrom represents USA in women’s 8+ at World Championships in Czech Republic.

Groundbreaking for new Green Lake Community Boathouse.

Green Lake is selected as one of 20 sites for STEM to Stern program, which combines rowing and STEM education to bring underrepresented groups into the sport. Pilot session is held in partnership with Wallingford Boys and Girls Club, bringing program full circle to its origins.

2024: New boathouse opens and new chapter in GLC history begins.

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