It hangs there, high above the whirring machines in Cougar Crew’s ergometer room, a 23-foot wooden relic from the program’s past.

The Winlock W. Miller and the 101 were long-term loans to WSU’s newly formed crew from University of Washington head rowing coach Dick Erickson in early 1971. Both boats were crushed when the newly built Alamota shell house collapsed in a severe windstorm in early 1972, barely a month after WSU rowers took the shells onto the Snake River for the first time.

A founding member of Cougar Crew, the late Bob Minnich, salvaged the hull of one, carrying it atop his parents’ VW van to their Puyallup home, where it was stored in the rafters of their garage. Several years after he passed away, his brother contacted Cougar Crew alumni who in turn alerted men’s head rowing coach Peter Brevick. Brevick drove to the west side to fetch it, hoisting the remnant⁠—a direct link to the beginnings of the WSU rowing program⁠—to the ceiling last summer.

Alumni hope to test wood samples from the hull in an effort to confirm its identity. Meantime, in March, the Cougar Crew Alumni Association held a christening ceremony, commemorating the shell’s homecoming and its symbolism of the beginnings of Cougar Crew.


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Resurrecting the remnants—the full story of the Cougar Crew shell