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Go Purple, Win Gold—UW Alumni at the 2012 Olympics, Part 1

Since 1919, the UW has sent more than 120 competitors to the Olympics. This year, 19 athletes with UW connections are heading to London in pursuit of Olympic glory. Let’s meet our Husky Olympians!

Part 1: The Crew Crew

The University of Washington has always taken pride in its crew teams. In fact, the UW Alumni Association was founded in 1889 for the express purpose of raising money to help send the men’s crew team to compete at the championships in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. The UWAA’s mission has expanded since then, and so has UW rowing’s reputation. This summer, three UW alumni will be pulling for Team USA in London:

Megan Kalmoe

Megan Kalmoe, ’06, Rowing (photo from

Megan Kalmoe, ’06, Rowing

Born in Minneapolis, Megan Kalmoe joined the UW rowing team as a walk-on in 2002. According to her blog, her time with the “talented, fiercely competitive women” of UW rowing helped start her transformation into a world-class athlete:

Though I never found much competitive success with the Huskies, I formed some of the most important and lasting friendships of my life out of Conibear, and constantly look to the lessons I learned at Washington to guide my development.

London will be Kalmoe’s second Olympics. In Beijing, she and her rowing partner, Ellen Tomek, made it to the finals of the women’s double sculls, where they placed fifth.

Adrienne Martelli

Adrienne Martelli, ’10, Rowing (photo from The Daily)

Adrienne Martelli, ’10,  Rowing

Another walk-on, former UW team captain Adrienne Martelli lists the 2008 NCAA Championships as her most memorable sporting achievement. The varsity four team made up more than a boatlength in the last 500 meters to win the race and the championship, capping an undefeated season.

Since graduating, Martelli has placed twice in the World Rowing Championship, taking the women’s coxless four to bronze in 2010 and rowing to silver in 2011 with the women’s coxed four.

Raised in University Place, Martelli is a graduate of Curtis High School, where she ran track and played basketball.

Mary Whipple

Mary Whipple, ’02, Rowing, cox. (photo from

Mary Whipple, ’02, Coxswain, Rowing

Mary Whipple brings almost 20 years’ experience to the women’s eight crew. She served as coxswain at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, where her team took silver and gold, respectively, ending a 20-year Olympic medal drought. In between, she steered the eight to World Championship titles in 2006 and 2007.

So what does a coxswain do? More than being the tiny person who shouts at the rowers, the coxswain is essential to the smooth running of a boat. The coxswain steers the boat during races, keeping the boat on track while avoiding obstacles and other boats. The coxswain’s biggest job, however, is during training, when it’s her job to run the drills, watch each rower’s performance, and make sure the boat is in top working condition. The coxswain keeps track of the equipment, making sure everything is ready before practice and everything is put safely away after practice. As coxswain, Whipple is responsible for the safety of Team USA’s boat and the rowers.

Whipple has said she would retire after the Olympics.

Look for more entries in the coming days, in which we introduce you to Husky Olympians in track & field, volleyball, and, yes, a certain soccer goalie you may have heard about. Stay tuned!



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