Alumni Connection: Dave Tosi ’70

We’re constantly working to reconnect with our team’s alumni. This week we heard from URI Crew alumni Dave Tosi ’70 who was generous enough to give us a snapshot of his time with Rhody Rowing:

Dave Tosi

I started my college career in fall of 1966 as a freshman at URI. I signed up for crew because my father had rowed when he was in take Phys Ed. and row. Time was at a premium. We kept our shells in the old chicken coop boat house at Worden Pond. As I recall the varsity used a boat donated to us by Harvard: it had been built in 1941! That was our best boat. Some of the others came from Bill Sonzgni’s contacts. I think we also had an old Yale shell.

I remember Al Divoll, Sam Kinder, and Bill Sonzgni, but they were in the first boat. Silverman and Specht ring a bell now that I’m thinking way back.

I can’t remember all the frosh boat but, I was in #4 and then finally #6. John Breguet was #7 (he was my roommate), and Dave Decubulis was stroke. Later, we lost Dave in the Viet Nam war. I think Ernst (Mich) Michaud was #5. Rick Bradlee was our cox.

Being only 5’-7” tall, Ralph said I would never be able to keep up. Well he was wrong, I just had to use my back more than the tall guys. I guess the strong back, weak mind saying applies.

As unskilled freshman we did fairly well that year. We rowed at the Rusty Callow, the Dad Vail, at Oyster Bay. I was at the dock at Oyster Bay, waiting for our oars and shells, when we heard that the shells had been destroyed by wind up in Connecticus. Devastating. Then we had to borrow a shell and spoon oars (which none of us had ever used) to compete. It was a long ride home.

A few anecdotes I remember are: [Coach] Ralph walking backwards on the dock while we were shoving off and he walked right of the end in to the drink. He was in his business suit, wing tips and long coat. One time we got lost and separated in the fog on the pond and Ralph was like Diogenes perched in the front of the launch looking for us. I remember running up and down the stairs in the gym in the winter when the pond was frozen. We also used to hoist our shell over our heads and run up to the crossroads and back to the boathouse.

Finally, our frosh crew was the first to actual power Brown’s barge under the water. We ended up standing in the middle of the Seekonk River waiting to be rescued in the middle of March. Ice was floating by us from about 100 yards up stream. Coach Michelson thought we had been fooling around and did not believe us. After we had warmed up, we all got back in the barge and did it again right by the dock. He was amazed; no one had ever done it before. We were short on finesse, but we had power and heart.

Thanks for letting me reminisce about the “good ole days”!

We need your help! Have you heard from any of the rowers named in this article? Email Mike White at Help us grow our alumni community!

  1. Carol Culshaw Prince Reply

    What a fun article to read! I was a little later in the life of URI crew and started in late Fall of 1973 as a coxswain for the mens lightweight eight. My roommate, Judy Clayton rowed with the ladies and invited me to come down to the Narrow River to try it. It was obvious from the start that an oarsmen I was not cut out to be, but I fell in love with the sport! Being raised on the shore of NJ, I grew up loving the water, but this was a thrilling ride!
    We had some incredible guys, gals and coaches during my 3 1/2 years. We won a lot of races and laughed and cried, ran hills and sweated to make weight together. We broke ice, stayed over during spring break and after school was out in the summers. My junior year I was diagnosed with vocal cord calcium deposits and Bruce Tabor wired the shell for my voice system so I didn’t have to yell. Mark Beckenbach, Rich Robertson, Ken McShane, Gary Greer, John Gabarra, Steve Lynch, Bruce Tabor and Gerry Menard were primarily my crew for spring 1974. 1975 spring was our best and those guys were awesome. Steve Lynch, Don Burns, Bruce Tabor, Gary Greer, Brent Carlson, Tom Rowlett, Rich Robertson and Mark Beckenbach. We finished a disappointing 3rd in the Dad Vail. I was fortunate to row with the following guys as well: Bobbie Gillette, Tim Knight,John Gleason, Craig Woodard, Curt Sadley, Bob Wise, Bill Reilly, Bill McGovern, Gary Bannon, Rick Wilhelm, Fred Hall, Steve Csenge, Paul Lennon and Mack.
    I’d love to have an alumni day when the really old guys all come! How about this spring? I can make weight, maybe, how about you!? Carol ’77.

  2. Jane Turner Reply

    I was a coxswaine in 79′ -81′. I had a blast. I was good friends with John Gleason. I recently coxswained for my brothers boat in Chattanooga Tennesee after 30 years I was surprised how different it was and I’d forgotten how to steer the boat. Without any preparation they threw me in a four man shell and at first I almost hit a committee boat. They mega- blasted me and all of a sudden I regained my steering abilities. I screamed through the electronic megaphone and felt the excitement of the race all over again.

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