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Published: Thursday, April 29, 2010, 11:08 p.m.

Silvana native brings Syracuse crew team to Windemere Cup

  • Dave Reischman

    Dave Reischman

SEATTLE — Dave Reischman probably should be attending this weekend’s Windemere Cup as a spectator. That’s what his destiny looked like it would dictate at one point in his life.
Perhaps he’d be making the drive from his waterfront home on Mercer Island or Medina. Maybe he’d already be retired, spending the millions he made working at Microsoft or NASA.
Instead, Reischman, once a farm boy in tiny Silvana, will bring his Syracuse University crew team to the Windemere Cup on Saturday. Rowing, unbeknownst to the former computer science major, is what destiny had in mind for Dave Reischman.
Reischman, a 1983 graduate of Arlington High School, has always had a funny way of falling into the path least expected.
His career as a coach actually began during the fall of his senior year at Arlington High, when a series of concussions forced him to the sideline during the Eagles’ historic run to the state football championship. Reischman, who had absolutely no designs on any kind of a career in athletics, served as an assistant coach on Arlington’s freshman team that year while his former teammates went on to win state. He had to give up football, bought a tennis racquet for $25, taught himself that game, then made the Gonzaga University tennis team as a college freshman the next fall.
“I was probably the No. 6 person on one of the worst tennis teams in the history of the sport,” he said this week. “The only reason I made the team was because there wasn’t a ball that I wasn’t going to get bloody going after. I think our coach at the time thought it was an element we were missing: ‘Let’s put this dumb farm boy out there to chase everything down.’”
But Reischman’s tennis career ended after one season, thanks to a physical that revealed his history of concussions. When his neurologist, Everett-based doctor Sanford Wright, refused to clear Reischman for competition, he had to give up playing tennis. In order to compete in college athletics, Reischman had only one choice: to go out for a club team.
So he gave crew a shot.
A driven young man who learned his work ethic on the family farm in Silvana, Reischman became an instant success. But he certainly didn’t have any visions of competing or coaching after college, not with a lucrative career in computers awaiting him.
Another twist of fate, this time when an internship at NASA fell through five days before his college graduation, led Reischman along the path to coaching. While many of his classmates in computer science went on to help get a company called Microsoft off the ground, Reischman was without a job or enough time to find one. He sold his car, bought a bike and a plane ticket to Boston, and headed east. He took a job with Community Rowing, got introduced to legendary Harvard crew coach Harry Parker, and soon became an assistant at the Ivy League school.
A year later, Reischman finally landed a job in his academic field, doing contract work for NASA while developing a flight simulator. He had finally moved on in life.
“It was the type of company I wanted to work for,” he said Thursday night. “But I found that I was sitting at my desk coming up with (rowing) lineups and workout plans. And I was never out on the water trying to do computer programs. So it was a pretty good indication that (crew) is where I should be.”
Reischman has now been in coaching for 23 years, including 21 as a head coach. He’s in his seventh year at Syracuse, having taken over a struggling program in 2004 after helping turn Oregon State into a top-10 national power in his previous stop. The Orange are currently ranked seventh in the nation, and University of Washington women’s crew coach Bob Ernst is among the many people who marvel at how far Reischman has brought the SU program in such a short time.
“Dave is an extremely hard-working guy who knows what good rowing looks like,” Ernst said Thursday night. “He’s put in the work. … I’d do anything for Dave Reischman. He’s the right kind of guy for this sport.”
This weekend, Reischman will face some of the stiffest competition his team has seen, with top-ranked UW and international power Oxford University scheduled to face Syracuse in the 24th annual Windemere Cup at UW’s Montlake Cut.
Reischman never could have imagined that this is where life would have taken him. But now that he’s here, he can’t imagine having rowed in any other boat.
“I’ve got classmates that have retired — they’re in their mid-40s, and they’ve retired from Microsoft — but I don’t regret it,” said Reischman, whose brother Jim owns an auto shop in Arlington. “I feel lucky — to work with the kids that I do, and to get paid for what I do.”

The 24th annual Windemere Cup
When: Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m.
Where: Montlake Cut
Who: UW, Syracuse and Oxford
Story tags » RowingHuskies Rowing

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