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Featured Alumni: Mary Whipple Awarded 2018 UW Cohn Award

Cohn Award Reflects Our Legacy

On November 18, 2018, Mary Whipple, ’02, was awarded one of the top alumni honors at Washington when she was presented the Dave and Ruth Cohn Award for outstanding service to the UW.

The Dave and Ruth Cohn Alumni Merit Award was established in 1988 to honor a former Washington letter winner for outstanding service and support of the University of Washington. According to the UW, Cohn award recipients “exemplify integrity, leadership, sportsmanship and community involvement that parallels the athletic goals at Washington.”

Mary has certainly reflected those values throughout her post-graduate life. As a member of the U.S. National Team for over a decade, Mary defines what it means to be a highly dedicated leader at the pinnacle of athletic performance. A two-time Olympic champion in Beijing and London (and silver medalist in Athens in 2004), she now shares her experience and knowledge through speaking engagements, coxswain clinics and camps.

Moreover, in recent years Mary has brought her unique experience back to Conibear as a volunteer. Often seen in the coaching launch with head coach Yaz Farooq, Mary has been an integral part of the team. “Mary is so humble,” said Yaz, “but she was a key contributor to the success of the U.S. women’s eight in her three Olympics. She is the premier coxswain coach in the country. As fellow coxswains, she and I see the boat differently and speak the same language, so I really value her keen eye and input.”

Mary herself sees it the same: “It’s so much fun being on a launch with all of those women. It’s great to talk shop with people who all speak the same language,” said Mary. “I feel lucky. Yaz is always thanking me for coming along, but I always react that it’s me who should be thanking her.”

Yaz continued: “This recognition of Mary for her outstanding alumni representation of the UW is just one more reason why this program is different. From my first day here I was amazed at the support from this Husky Rowing Family… it truly is unique in the rowing world.”

The recognition of Mary’s contributions and service by the University follows in a recent line of Rowing Stewards who have been singled out for their contributions back to the University:  Eric Cohen (2016), Blake Nordstrom (2013), and John Wilcox (2010) were all recent recipients of the Cohn Award, while Jon Runstad was awarded the Orrico Award in 2017 for “an uncommon level of dedication to Washington Athletics.”

“There is a special culture here at Washington Rowing that is so critical to our overall success, both with the men and the women,” said men’s head rowing Michael Callahan. “There is a very strong ethic of giving back . . . of recognizing the incredible opportunity this program offers. Mary has that ethic, as have all of the alums who have received this award. They are a reflection of who we are.”

Yaz summed it up:  “We as coaches are just so grateful for the kind of support we receive from our alumni, and for our athletes it is so important for them to see this connection. With Mary, there are just so few athletes with the kind of championship-level experience she has, and it is fantastic she so willingly brings it back here to this building. The character and confidence she carries with her are contagious, and myself—and our athletes—are the beneficiaries.”

Thank you, Mary, for all you do for Washington Rowing!