In his moving and insightful book "The Boys in the Boat," author Daniel James Brown tells the emotionally charged story of the eight-oar crew team from the University of Washington that beat the odds and won gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He shares the stories of working-class boys who came from Washington state's "foggy coastal villages, damp dairy farms, and smoky lumber towns" and mastered the art of rowing and working together to become Olympic champions.
The book was selected as Western Washington University's Western Reads book for the 2014-15 school year. Western Reads is Western’s campus-wide reading program designed to promote intellectual engagement and civil discourse among members of the campus community.
As part of the events surrounding the study of that book this past year, some at Western decided to celebrate the university's own athletes in the boat, holding various celebrations of the women's and men's rowing programs at Western.
Dawn Dietrich, director of Western Reads, explains: "One of the reasons Western Reads chose 'The Boys in the Boat' this year was to highlight the importance of athletics on our campus. Through athletics, students learn about discipline, hard work, balancing course workload and training regimen, and loyalty to the team."
Western has no shortage of standout teams and excellent coaches, she said, but as a tie-in to the book, Western Reads chose to highlight the tremendous achievements of men's and women's crew.
So, Dietrich and the Western Reads team turned to students Nathan Haase and Tohn Keagle to help tell the story of Western's own rowing athletes. The two filmed and photographed a year’s worth of men's crew training regimens and competitions, in addition to interviewing the athletes on the team. The film was created with the intent to be shown at Back 2 Bellingham as the capstone event for the 2014-15 Western Reads season. In addition, it will serve as a promotional video for the men's crew program, Dietrich said.
Haase, the video's editor and director, is a design major. He took a film production course, learned the Adobe Premiere video editing program and got to work. The film was premiered in front of the department this past Tuesday and then to a crowd of 100-plus at Back 2 Bellingham on Saturday.
"What Nathan and Tohn accomplished is nothing short of remarkable," Dietrich said. Stunning cinematography, riveting pacing and rhythm, humor, succinct interview clips, and stylized editing. This film has heart, and you’ll never look at college athletics the same."