Friday, January 27, 2023

Rowing club salutes William & Mary’s Reveley in its own unique way — with a brand new boat

Members of the W&M rowing club walk the W. Taylor Reveley III shell down to the Chickahominy River on Monday. The outgoing president attended the surprise naming ceremony. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Stephen Salpukas)
Members of the W&M rowing club walk the W. Taylor Reveley III shell down to the Chickahominy River on Monday. The outgoing president attended the surprise naming ceremony. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Stephen Salpukas)

Coming soon to a regatta near you: W. Taylor Reveley III.

No, it’s not the W. Taylor Reveley III who is concluding 10 years as president of William & Mary. This W. Taylor Reveley III is the sleek, new gray shell the university’s rowing club named in his honor May 21 at Chickahominy Riverfront Park. It will make its debut at the men’s club’s first regatta of the fall.

Reveley, who was a member of Princeton’s lightweight rowing team as a freshman and sophomore, arrived in suit and tie, thinking he was merely attending a practice. When Graham Ludner, director of rowing, removed two gold T-shirts to reveal “W. Taylor Reveley III” in black block letters, the president was flabbergasted.

“Good Lord,” he exclaimed. “That is remarkably nice!”

Later, he told the more than 20 students gathered, “This means a whole lot to me. Crew meant a whole lot to me. The only thing we need to figure out is ‘W. Taylor Reveley III’ is too large a mouthful for a shell to have to bear. I would suggest just calling it ‘Taylor.’”

Ludner led everyone through a traditional boat-naming ceremony.

Graham Ludner with President Reveley. (WYDaily/Courtesy of W&M News)
Graham Ludner with President Reveley. (WYDaily/Courtesy of W&M News)

“Since the beginning of time, sailors have believed there are lucky vessels and unlucky vessels,” he said, while Reveley paid rapt attention. Ludner beseeched Neptune, god of the water, and Aeolus, god of the wind, to offer protection and safe passage for the newest addition to the rowing club.

Those gathered lifted plastic cups of sparkling cider and made the first of several toasts.

“Hear, hear!” Reveley said, raising his cup as the students tittered. “Got to keep the gods happy.”

Linda Knight, director of campus recreation, told the students that Reveley has been a constant supporter of her programs for the 20 years she has been on campus.

“It’s always nice to be in meetings, whether it be a Board meeting or something else, and they’re talking about athletics, and pretty much without fail, Taylor always says, ‘We also have a great campus recreation program; we have a great sport club program. We don’t need to forget that.’”

She turned to Reveley.

“There’s not a lot of things we can do with naming rights without getting a lot of people involved,” she said, “but the one thing we can be a part of — and it’s the highest honor we can give you, Taylor — is to name this boat after you.”

Linda Knight (WYDaily/Courtesy of W&M News)
Linda Knight (WYDaily/Courtesy of W&M News)

Reveley told the students he admired what they have accomplished, given their meager resources. He wished things could be different.

“If I had a magic wand, I would extend it and take the magnificent things you’ve done on a shoestring and get you guys some more money and, ideally, varsity status,” he said. “This is really good water; it’s great crew water. We could be a giant crew powerhouse.”

The president peppered the students with questions about their schedule, whether they wagered their T-shirts against the competition, whether any had caught a crab while rowing, or been tossed from the boat.

Taylor Reveley prepares to see his shell in action. (WYDaily/Courtesy of W&M News)
Taylor Reveley prepares to see his shell in action. (WYDaily/Courtesy of W&M News)

When Ludner offered Reveley the opportunity to climb into the shell, he declined. But given the chance to ride alongside the shell on a trip through the Chickahominy, he doffed his jacket, got on board and rode, a big smile on his face.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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