March from the editor: full disclosure
BY CHIP DAVIS
PHOTO PROVIDED THROUGH TEXAS ATHLETIC
This publication can be credibly accused of having a pro-Dave O’Neill bias. In our defence, I met and liked him before I started Rowing News (now in its 29th year, I’m proud to point it out). Dave O and I both pursued Olympic dreams and trained at Boston Rowing Center coached by the amazing Liz O’Leary.
We both raced bikes (not in the Olympics). Dave worked as a bike messenger, worked odd jobs, and volunteered to coach the women’s club crew at Boston College, his alma mater. He was so starved for funds in those days that when a grenade trailer crashed, Dave took the undamaged bow section from one eight and connected it to the stern section of another and drove the “Franken Shell”. What if the two halves were different colors? it was better than anything they could afford at the time.
He also helped Rowing News writing articles for free in our early days and encouraging our development, with much positive feedback and only very occasional constructive criticism (O’Neill is not a fan of rowers in the boat).
O’Neill, as told in Ed Moran’s story starting on page 38 of our print edition and posted online over the weekend, coached Cal to two NCAA national championships. He helped identify his replacement, Al Acosta, who coached the Bears to another NCAA title, when O’Neill went to Texas, where he is currently preparing to defend the Longhorns’ first NCAA national championship.
Despite his achievements at the highest level of American collegiate rowing, O’Neill has not lost his appreciation for the value of rowing (“I believe the lessons you learn from rowing can make the world a better place, and that depends it on”) his sense of fun — at the 2015 NCAA Championships, his Texan crews appeared on the podium in cowboy boots. At the 2018 NCAAs, they rode different hulls—controversially and successfully—in heats and finals what men’s teams have done for decades. O’Neill also sets the standard for productive interaction with the media and the public. He answers every call and inquiry and recently appeared in Alex DelSordo’s pioneering work Finish Line Live (Check it out on YouTube) to help rowers understand what to expect from Tier I rowing.
Yes, we may be very prejudiced against Dave O’Neill and the continued professionalism and fun he brings to our sport.