Jul 22, 2019
DERBY, Conn. – Local politicians, community leaders and Yale administrators gathered at Gilder Boathouse on Monday morning to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the wildly successful Yale Community Rowing Program.
The program, which was endowed by Ginny Gilder ’79 while the Gilder Boathouse was under construction, began in 1999 with the idea that opportunities in the sport of rowing could be made available to young people throughout the community. The pilot program began with 12 participants and a staff of three. It has since grown to become one of the largest programs of its kind in the nation, unique in its scope and inclusiveness. Each year, close to 900 young people between the ages of 10 and 17 take part in YCR-sponsored activities.
As part of the festivities, three shells were dedicated – the Sniderman, the Barbara Chesler and the Wingman.
The Sniderman is named in honor of Jamie Snider, who was the Director of Yale Community Rowing for its first 15 years while also serving as an assistant coach for the Yale women’s crew team.
Snider was unable to attend the event because he is in Sarasota, Florida, preparing to coach the United States four at the World Rowing Under-23 Championships but wrote a note of thanks that was read by John Dearborn, who has been with YCR since 2002.
“Having your name on a shell is the greatest tribute this sport offers,” Snider wrote. “Thank you to Ginny Gilder for her vision that a community-based rowing program for area youth would flourish at the Yale boathouse.”
Chesler, who served as a Senior Associate Athletic Director in the Yale Athletic Department for more than 30 years, oversaw the program and was instrumental in its creation and success.
“This is a reminder of [Barbara’s] vision and how we will continue to grow as a community,” said Holly Archibald, the current director of the program, during the ceremony.
Added Snider, “I was very fortunate to work with Barbara, the YCR administrator during my tenure as director. Under her stewardship, the directive was to offer the highest level of programming while every year expanding the opportunities to youth from Greater New Haven and the Lower Naugatuck Valley to learn the sport of rowing.”
The Wingman is named in honor of Dylan’s Wings of Change, a foundation dedicated to the memory of Dylan Hockley, who was killed in 2012 in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Dylan had autism and struggled to communicate his needs or follow complex instructions, which meant he could too easily be excluded from activities.
Yale Community Rowing has partnered with Dylan’s Wings of Change since 2016, creating a program specific to the sport of rowing. It is geared to develop communication and cooperation skills through challenging and fun team building activities.
“We are honored to have a boat dedicated to us,” said Ian Hockey, Dylan’s father, who founded Dylan’s Wings of Change with his wife Nicole. “It is super meaningful.”
Following the boat dedication, the children participating in the program were treated to ice cream.
Among the dignitaries in attendance were Richard Dziekan, the mayor of Derby, and Mark Lauretti, the mayor of Shelton.
Report filed by Tim Bennett (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Athletics Strategic Communications