Two former Husky women's rowers remember fired Washington crew coach Bob Ernst as someone who pushed them and made them better.

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AND ELISABETH ODLAND

(HUSKY ROWING, Class of 2014)

Bob Ernst was a strong-willed coach. He was honest and tough, but arguably, most elite athletes would attest to their success being rooted in a tough-love approach to training.

Ruth Whyman, a former Washington rower, hoists the women’s Windermere Cup aloft while coach Bob Ernst jokes don’t drop it over the public-address system.  The UW women’s eight beat Great Britain.  Whyman is from Gloucestershire, England. (Alan Berner / Seattle Times staff)
Ruth Whyman, a former Washington rower, hoists the women’s Windermere Cup aloft while coach Bob Ernst jokes don’t drop it over the public-address system. The UW women’s eight beat Great Britain. Whyman is from Gloucestershire, England. (Alan Berner / Seattle Times staff)

Yes, compliments were rare. After completing a particularly challenging piece of training, “We’ve got some work to do,” isn’t necessarily what you want to hear. But when he said it, he was right. He held his athletes to high standards because he knew there was more speed lying dormant. We did have work to do. We meant he and you. We achieved personal bests, we won races and we pulled through nightmare training sessions, absolutely and wholly together.

Yelling for his crews to stop rowing during the middle of a water session, might have been a sure-fire sign you were about to hear some hard truths. Yet, during the early morning rows, when the sun was rising over Seattle you might instead be lucky enough to hear, “Team, look over there. Take a look around.” You could go months without even looking up, because you were so engrossed in the next stroke, the next session, the next race. But Bob appreciated the beauty of Washington and made sure his athletes knew how lucky they were to be Huskies.

Ruth Whyman (Photo courtesy of UW athletics)
Ruth Whyman (Photo courtesy of UW athletics)

Washington rowing will continue to flourish. The introduction of a new coach with fresh ideas is the beginning of an exciting chapter for the crew team. But no matter the circumstances within which his dynasty came to an end, it should be known that Bob Ernst is the reason that Husky rowers all over the world are resilient, humble and above all else, bleed purple and gold.

Ruth Whyman is a former Washington rower who now lives in the United Kingdom. She wrote this Take 2 piece about her perspective of former coach Bob Ernst with input and ideas from Elisabeth Odland, her friend and fellow 2014 Huskies crew graduate. Read her previous Seattle Times Take 2 on why she loved the Windermere Cup and Opening Day here.

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