Athletics News

The Road to the Hall: 1989 Women's Rowing

The LMU women's rowing lightweight-four won a national championship in 1989.
The LMU women's rowing lightweight-four won a national championship in 1989.

Jan. 14, 2011

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - When it enters the LMU Hall of Fame on January 29, the 1989 women's rowing lightweight-four team will join Edit Pakay (women's tennis/cross country, 2003), Kate Murray (women's basketball, 2004), Arturo Torres (men's soccer, 2002), Kevin Witt (men's water polo, 2003), and the 1950 Loyola football team as the Hall of Fame class of 2011. The four individuals bring the number of members in the Hall of Fame, which was started in 1986, to 108. The two teams will be the fifth and sixth inducted into the Hall of Fame, as they join the 1969 football team, the 1981 women's rowing team, the 1990 men's basketball team, and the 1986 baseball team.

The following story was contributed by Public Relations assistant Sandy Dermody after LMU's team of Mary Huffman, Katie Burke, Julie Hackworth Kelly Farley, coxswain Jessica Perez, and Coach Lori Pawinski won the 1989 Women's Rowing Lightweight-Four National Championship.

When the LMU women's crew team left for the national tournament in Madison, Wisconsin on June 4, 1989, they didn't have the new oars they'd wanted, but they'd repainted their old oars with a nice bright crimson LMU logo. They hoped to outstroke such formidable tourney opponents as the University of Wisconsin, UC Davis, MIT, UC Santa Barbara and St. Thomas.

But the quest for the four-woman lightweight national title quickly threatened to deteriorate into a struggle for survival as they fought weather, flight and equipment problems.

First they missed their connecting flight in Chicago when bad weather delayed the arrival of their plane. No problem, [Coach Lori] Pawinski said, as she rented two cars to transport them the 150 miles to Madison, arriving at 3 a.m. Thursday.

The freshly painted oars didn't fare as well. All four pairs were broken when they arrived in Madison, forcing the team to borrow oars. They also had to borrow a boat for practice on Thursday while they waited for their rented boat from the University of Cincinnati. The rented boat, scheduled to arrive Friday at noon, didn't arrive until 6 p.m. While it was still light, the lake was by then too rough for the boat, so a precious second day of practice was lost.

They couldn't have stepped into the boat right away, anyway. It had been designed for a male crew, which meant that the foot slots in the bottom of the boat were too wide for women's feet. So they spent the evening buying new sneakers with wider soles that would fit in the boat.

On Saturday, in their rented men's boat, with borrowed oars, they finally took to the lake to practice - in the midst of rain and thunder on the lake.

On Sunday, rowing against teams that had been practicing twice a day for three days, the LMU team, nicknamed the "Bad News Bears," carried off the championship, finishing just six seconds ahead of UC Davis.

As a final glitch, just when they thought they could breathe easily, they boarded their flight home and discovered they had been mistakenly seated in the smoking section. Which, according to Pawinski, seemed par for the course.

The Hall of Fame inductees will be introduced during halftime at the LMU men's basketball game against Santa Clara on Saturday, January 29, 2011. For game tickets, please contact Scott Higdon at 310-258-2680.

For more information or to purchase tickets to the Hall of Fame event, please contact June D'Amour at 310-338-1743 or jdamour@lmu.edu. The invitation and RSVP card can also be downloaded using the following links:

2011 Hall of Fame Invitation Get Acrobat Reader

2011 Hall of Fame RSVP Card Get Acrobat Reader

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