Purdue Rowing Association (PRA) Updates – November 2020

Purdue Crew 70th Anniversary Celebration

October 24th was a special day for the Purdue Rowing Association as we celebrated our 70th Anniversary virtually via Zoom.  Approximately 95 alumni were in attendance.  I apologize for the change in time, due to the Purdue football game, noting we will stick with our original time in future. 

Before the start, we asked Bill Butler to share his story of how the Crew started with the rowers on the call. Thank you, Bill for a great start to the program.  Bill was followed by Coach Kucik, who introduced Mike Warren, Director for Recreation & Wellness at Purdue who shared his enthusiasm and support for the Crew and what it has meant to Purdue throughout the years.  Next, Kelsey D’Amico, President for the Crew, shared an update of the current rowers amid the challenges of Covid-19 and how they found the boathouse a welcome respite from the main campus and the pandemic in general, rowing outdoors on ergs, lifting weights and running.  She stated that they look forward to getting on the water soon and hope to have a spring season.  

As part of the PRA updates, Bruce Blackwell provided a brief history of the Crew and in particular from the 50’s and 60’s.  He noted Bill and Kenneth Butler’s initial aspirations upon seeing the Wabash River, shared stories of Larry Tolle as coach and highlighted early races.  Bruce has written the definitive history on the Crew from this era, and we will plan on posting these at the Purdue Crew Website at: https://purduecrew.com/alumni/ for all rowers. 

We are grateful to you, Bruce for your work and legacy for the Crew. 

Additional PRA updates:  

For 2020 the PRA executive committee has continued to work on the following Strategic Plan Goals that include:   

  • SUPPORT of the Crew and Coaches:  Provide input to the Purdue Development Office’s long-term fundraising plan with our representative for the Crew, Danielle Roudebush.  
  • NETWORKING: While we could not meet in person, we agreed that having a virtual opportunity would allow one of our primary purposes for existing-Networking-to continue.  Viv Clemmons and Christian Becker did some excellent groundwork for our next in-person gathering-so stay tuned!
  • COMMUNICATIONS:  Mark Bucherl was the technology and communications specialist for the Virtual 70th Anniversary Celebration, and he made the Zoom and breakout room efforts appear seamless. More social media gatherings may be in our future, and with this, we hope this outreach will engage our alumni with new opportunities. Thanks, Mark for your work. 
  • HISTORIAN & ARCHIVES:  Bill Butler’s “DREAM WALL”, showing pictures of each era, is approximately 80% complete, thanks to Melanie Parks and her diligent efforts in collecting photos, talking to coaches, and setting up a section for each “Era” or decade and its highlights. Bill, we can hardly wait to show it to you!   Additional activities have included archiving documents and items donated to the Crew for long-term safe-keeping. Please send select archival information to the Purdue Crew, Division of RECWELL, 344 North Martin Jischke Dr. West Lafayette, IN  47907, should you choose to do.
  • HONORS:   John North has continued his work with providing a framework and guidance for honoring those who have been instrumental in Purdue Crew’s growth and success.  The Purdue Rowing Association has established the Cornerstone Award.  The inaugural Cornerstone Award was presented to Coach Kucik for his 25 years as head coach during the 70th Anniversary Celebration. 

We still have more work to do.  Many of you have expressed interest in becoming more engaged with the alumni and we will take your comments and suggestions to heart as we continue developing this cornerstone activity of the PRA group.  Generally, our group meets every other month virtually, and so we look forward to your participation no matter your location.   Should you wish to join in, please contact Mark Bucherl at mbucherl@pra.org.in Christian Becker at cbecker831@gmail.com or me at  ellensholland@pra.org.in.

Thank you all who attended, and to Coach Kucik and Mark Bucherl for your work in helping to set this up.  We look forward to seeing you at our next gathering-either virtual or in-person! 

Stay safe.

Kind Regards,


President, PRA