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Yale's Rowing Shake-up


[The following article appeared in the Boston Transcript of August 1. Harvard men will be interested to learn from it that Yale has become suddenly impressed with the evils of professional coaching. The change in the rowing system at Yale, which embraces a return to graduate coaching, will be quite a departure from the plans of previous years. James O. Rodgers '98, who will serve as head coach, will give his services absolutely without compensation. He will lay out his work very much after the way graduate coaching is conducted in England. His plan will be to mould the oarsmen along certain lines which will be a well-defined style of graduate coaching, so that the work, entirely amateur, may be continued from year to year just as football coaching has been done with uniform success for many years.

The acceptance of the resignation of Coach John Kennedy is taken by Yale men to mean the end of professional coaching. It is stated, however, that the advisory committee may engage Mr. Kennedy to look after the crew men and to assist in the teaching of the stroke, which stroke will be strictly that of "Bob" Cook. A meeting of old Yale oarsmen was held in New York week before last, when plans for adopting the graduate system of coaching were agreed upon. All the ex-crew captains were present from the year 1876, besides many well-known oarsmen. Upon the acceptance of Mr. Kennedy's resignation the selection of Mr. Rodgers as head coach was made.

After the overwhelming defeat by Harvard--the climax of Yale's most disastrous rowing season--Yale graduates took the situation into their own hands. A Committee was appointed to consider and to advise Captain Romeyn. Fred Allen, the 1900 captain, was chairman of this committee, and Mr. Cook was a member of it. The committee went over the situation at great length with Captain Romeyn, and held a second meeting in New York last week, at which Captain Romeyn was advised to make Mr. Rodgers head coach for 1912. This advice Mr. Romeyn accepted.

By this action the same men who put Kennedy in control of Yale rowing have taken it away from him. It was Messrs. Cook and Allen and the men who had been coaching up to 1900 who took Kennedy up when he was boathouse keeper here and made him a rowing coach. No one helped him more than did Mr. Cook, who gave him the benefit of his long and successful experience as a coach.

It will be a surprise to many to see the name of Bob Cook again in Yale rowing news. But his name has been foremost of late whenever Yale men have discussed their boating troubles. It is the Cook stroke that Yale men want their crews to row again, and no one can teach this so well as Mr. Cook himself. Although Mr. Rodgers has been selected as head coach, there is reason to believe that Mr. Cook will be seen at Yale boat- house frequently, and will again lend his aid and advice to Yale rowing.

Coach Rodgers will be assisted by the following advisory committee: Frederick W. Allen, captain of the 1899 and 1900 crews; Alfred Cowles, captain in 1886; Frederick Stevenson, captain in 1888; Payne Whitney, captain in 1898; Augustus S. Blagden, captain in 1901; Elliott P. Frost, captain in 1910. Mr. Allen will be chairman. This committee may be made permanent.

Mr. Rodgers rowed as a freshman at Yale in 1895, and in 1896 was a member of the crew that Yale sent to Henley. He suffered from a physical breakdown that year and had to give up rowing. It was this fact that brought him out as a coach of the Yale freshman crews in 1897 and in 1898. He proved a successful coach of the freshman eights. This is the extent of his experience as a rowing coach. Rodgers continued to play football and closed his career at Yale as captain of the football team in 1897. He has since been closely connected with Yale football as a coach and has rarely missed a season from the football staff.

Until recently he lived in the West, but is now in the insurance business in New York. He seems to be the one man of all Yale's old rowing men who is so situated that he can take up this work as head coach. All of the others are busy men who have not the time necessary for this position. Rodgers would probably not undertake it if he had not the assurance of the assistance and support of all the old graduates who have done coaching. Alfred Cowles, the 1886 captain, is one of the most active leaders in the new order of things. He was one of the men who helped Cook in the old days of Yale rowing.

John Kennedy's greatest mistake and one that cost him his reputation, was that he had made himself a "czar" in Yale rowing. For years the graduates had felt that they were not wanted at the Yale quarters. In this way Kennedy lost the support and advice of the only men who could have kept him following the right method in boating. The graduates resented this keenly, and the situation could not have lasted much longer, even if Yale had been winning instead of losing. The graduates have been losing interest each year in boating. Whether Rodgers can set things right, the graduates will now feel better, because boating will be in graduates' hands and will be divorced from professionalism.

Julian W. Curtiss, who has been graduate advisory coach for a number of years, also has resigned. Mr. Curtiss never took any active part in the coaching of the crews. It was he who secured the Yale rowing quarters at Gales Ferry, and it was he who got the funds to build the new George Adee Memorial Boat-house. Mr. Curtiss, therefore, has done a lot for Yale rowing, and Yale men appreciate his services. He will not drop out of Yale rowing by any means.

Fred Plaisted, the old professional sculler, who riged the shell this year, has been re-engaged for another year. The plans are to begin rowing as soon as college opens in the fall. The coaches realize that the oarsmen have a lot to learn in order to row a new stroke

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