In January our program received a sharp and sudden blow in the loss of our biggest supporter, Blake Nordstrom, ‘82.
A third-generation retailer who started in the stock rooms and on his hands and knees helping customers don new shoes, Blake showed all of us the meaning of service. The University of Washington Rowing Program was one lucky recipient of this tireless ethic and of his generosity.
At his beautiful memorial service, Blake’s friend and colleague Phyllis Campbell spoke about three of Blake’s attributes: Heart, Humility and Hope. Later, his daughter presented us with a card she found in his wallet which he kept for years reading ‘EXTEND YOURSELF.’
As we shake our heads thinking no one can replace Blake, we are right. But what about it? Look around at our Rowing Stewards:
Heart: Who has more heart for this team than Eric Cohen?
Humility: Is there anyone who serves with more humility than Betsy Beard?
Hope: Who has more optimism than Noelle Broom or Dwight Phillips?
So, it occurred to us that our Husky rowing angel is up there presenting us with a challenge to ‘EXTEND OURSELVES.’ No one is going to replace Blake, but we, collectively, are going to take over where he left off.
We have the talents, the service, the strengths, the passion, the knowledge and the connections. Each of us is more than capable of extending ourselves and filling a gap to take this program ahead.
And we are not alone.
This past year, we have witnessed what this program has both on the team and in the alums:
- The epic race in the women’s four at NCAA, where our women left it all absolutely on the line against Cal.
- In November, a room filled with eager freshmen parents, looking for ways to connect with the program.
- A family attending the Women’s Brunch and continuing to support the program in their late daughter’s memory.
- The countless parents, stewards, and alums reaching out to help and support Anna Thornton, and the more than 45 Daily visits to the hospital by her steadfast and devoted teammates before she left for home.
- The 101 Club responding to Yaz’s appeal and raising $80,000+ to send the team to Henley.
Blake was far more than a passive supporter of the program. He was ALL IN. He recognized how his Washington Rowing experience shaped him and he enthusiastically gave back. Blake gave the Stewards Board energy and direction. He set us up, and it is time for us to take it forward.
Please ‘EXTEND YOURSELF’ to your teammates, and engage them in the team to carry on this legacy for years to come.
Thank you and Go Dawgs.
Jane Powers and Trevor Vernon
Board of Washington Rowing Stewards