California State University, Long Beach

Remembering Joan Lind Van Blom (1952-2015)

Saturday, 29. August 2015


Friday, August 28, 2015
UPDATED: September 7, 2015 11:47PM PDT

By: Brandin Grams (’10, B.S., business)
Director of Outreach, Beach Crew Alumni Association
CSU Long Beach 49er Foundation

Photo Credits: Hope Wilkinson, Karen Keehn (1973, B.A., psychology), Jean Strauss, Andi Parsons, Carol Beard, Maddison Kerst



Lind_2Long Beach State has lost a legend in the 49er Hall of Fame, only to be remembered by her endless prowess for success and as an ambassador to the sport of rowing. Forget just being a role model, to many, she was a hero. She was a fierce competitor, but also passionate of promoting Physical Education throughout her career.

Joan (Lind) Van Blom (1974, B.A., physical education; 1976, credential)  passed away in the morning hours on Friday, August 28, 2015, after a near two-year battle with complications of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most aggressive form of brain cancer. She was 62. Prior to this time, Joan’s story was that of a storybook, whose athletic achievement became a legend. But on August 21, 2013, at the Pete Archer Rowing Center, she collapsed after an indoor rowing session, depicting the fate of what’s to come.

Joan was the first woman to win an Olympic medal for the United States in rowing, taking silver in the single sculls at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, and another in the quadruple sculls at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Joan was also a member of the 1980 Olympic team, which boycotted the Moscow Games. She not only medaled as a rower, but also medaled internationally as a coach in the Pan American Games, and currently holds 11 world records on the indoor ergometer.

11951883_10153557286702298_4070469725516771882_nJoan had a 35-year career with the Long Beach Unified School District as a physical education teacher and was instrumental in winning a million-dollar grant to put rowing machines in each of her school district’s nine high schools. Joan retired in 2012.

Through the years, Joan was inducted into the 49er Hall of Fame and was declared a Lifetime Member of the Long Beach Rowing Association, marking her never-ending achievement in advocacy for the sport and healthy living. She was inducted into the National Rowing Hall of Fame in 1985. Joan is part of the Long Beach Century Club‘s best moments in the City of Long Beach, instated February, 2006.

For all of her accomplishments, dedication to rowing and contributions to the sport’s growth, Van Blom was named the recipient of the 2014 USRowing Ernestine Bayer Award, formerly Woman of the Year, which recognizes outstanding contributions to women’s rowing and/or to an outstanding woman in rowing.

The award is named in honor of the late Ernestine Bayer, a pioneer in women’s rowing, who is seen as the matriarch of the sport in the United States. Joan was honored on Saturday, December 6, at the 2014 USRowing Annual Awards Reception presented by Nathan Benderson Park in Jacksonville, FL


Joan is survived by her husband John Van Blom (1972, B.A., art) and their son, John Jr. John is a four-time Olympian and was also inducted into the 49er Hall of Fame. Joan has two sisters, Loretta Madsen and Carol Hansen. Both entries can be seen at the 49er Hall of Fame, located at the Walter Pyramid, Ukleja Room, on the CSULB campus.


Recent Activities

On February 21, 2014, the Beach Crew Alumni Association hosted John and Joan Van Blom for an interview at the 49er Hall of Fame, conducted by Dave Straley (’72). The interview can be seen on the Beach Crew Alumni Association’s YouTube page. It is also available for viewing by appointment at the University Archives, Room 300, third floor of the CSULB Library.


Racing Shell Dedication

After a successful annual membership drive Fall 2014, the Beach Crew Alumni Association announced the dedication of two racing shells introduced in the Spring 2015 racing season. A Women’s Resolute 8+ shell was dedicated as the Joan Lind Van Blom. The Men’s golden Vespoli 8+ shell was dedicated to a influential and respected alum, John D. Boyle. The dedication ceremony was Saturday March 7, 2015, after racing commenced at the Southern California Opening Day Regatta. CSULB President, Dr. Jane Close Conoley was in attendance and made a special presentation. The ceremony was broadcasted by The Rowing Channel (TRC) and can be viewed at their website.




Jean Strauss, a former Long Beach-native, has been involved during this time with Joan’s biography, titled, “The Olympian,” scheduled to be released in Spring 2016, 40 years after her first Olympic race. She invites everyone to see a preview of what’s in the works:

Joan Lind – America’s Sculler from Jean A. S. Strauss on Vimeo. At the 2015 San Diego Crew Classic, Olympians and National Team Members talk about Joan Lind Van Blom and the impact she had on the early years of women’s international rowing – and the impact she continues to have to this day.

JOAN – on rowing from Jean A. S. Strauss on Vimeo. Joan Lind Van Blom is a two time Olympic silver medalist. The first woman to ever win a rowing medal for the US at the Olympics (Montreal, 1976), she represents a generation of women who, once given the opportunity to compete, raised the level of athleticism and grace in a sport that for over a millennia was the domain of men only. This short film contains footage from a documentary currently in production.


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Plans for a memorial are set for Saturday, October 10, 4:00PM to sunset at the Pete Archer Rowing Center. Please RSVP to This article will be updated below of such plans. Our community subscribed to the B-Newsline will be notified of these events.





Photo Credits

Larger Photos: Hope Wilkinson
Earlier/B&W Photos: Karen Keehn (1973, B.A., psychology)
Where Credited: Andi Parsons, Maddison Kerst, Carol Beard

Shells to be Dedicated to John D. Boyle & Joan Lind Van Blom

Saturday, 31. January 2015


After a successful annual membership drive last fall, the Beach Crew Alumni Association is proud to announce the dedication of two racing shells being introduced in the spring racing season. We are honored to have the Women’s Resolute 8+ shell dedicated to our 49er Hall of Fame recipient, Joan (Lind) Van Blom. The Men’s golden Vespoli 8+ shell will be dedicated to a influential and respected alum, John D. Boyle.

Please join us for Dedication Day, Saturday March 7, 2:00 PM, after racing has commenced at the Southern California Opening Day Regatta, right here at the Long Beach State Boathouse. Come hear a special presentation from our guest of honor, CSULB President, Dr. Jane Close Conoley.

Racing starts at 8:00AM with a series of time trials for the sprints later in the morning.


The entire day will be broadcasted thanks to our partnership with TRC. Coverage starts at 7:00AM.

Pete Archer Rowing Center
5750 Boathouse Lane
Long Beach


John Boyle embodied the contrast of rowing’s comfortable intensity. His dedication and loyalty made him an example for his boat mates and team members to follow. Although his time with us was far too short, his influence has continued on. John rowed on the varsity crew from 1984-1986. His boat won the V8+ event at WIRA in 1984 & 1986. He coached the Women’s Novice team from 1989-1991.


Joan (Lind) Van Blom was the first woman to win an Olympic medal for the United States in rowing, taking silver in the single sculls at the 1976 Olympic Games and in the quadruple sculls at the 1984 Olympics. She has not only medaled as a rower, but also medaled internationally as a coach in the Pan American Games, and currently holds 11 world records on the ergometer.

She has been an ambassador for the sport, raising over a million dollars in grants to bring rowing to high school students and teachers. She currently teaches rowing classes on the ergometer to non-rowers at the Pete Archer Boathouse and inspirationally continues to train and compete.

Happy Holidays from the BCA Board of Directors

Wednesday, 24. December 2014


Dear Beach Crew Alumni and Friends of Long Beach State Rowing:

As the 2014 years draws to a close I wanted to write to let you know that the rowing program at Long Beach State is now on the threshold of returning to the quality and success of earlier days. This is in no small part thanks to your contributions, interest and participation in your Beach Crew Alumni Association. With your support we have enjoyed a number of significant accomplishments this year, and we expect next year to be even better!

Thanks to the efforts of several members of the BCA Board, we were able to obtain from the University priority registration for our athletes. Needless to say, this has become a key to successful recruiting for a new generation of rowers now coming into the team.

Our recent fund raising event allowed us to raise sufficient funds to purchase a high quality used eight for the women’s team, and to transfer another quality eight from the women’s team to the men’s team. Moreover, your generosity exceeded the $12,000 required for the boat purchase, allowing additional funds to help the team bring other racing shells up to top competitive condition. We have also been able to allocate funds for scholarships, the BCA Newsletter, and a team strength and conditioning program guided by the CSULB Kinesiology Department. The team also gained access to the Bickerstaff Athlete Advising Center to enhance their academic needs.

Over the summer, our members completed a 5-year, $50,000 project to upgrade the chase boat fleet for the coaching staff. It proved to be a desperately needed aspect for our team that has not only improved their daily operations, but has substantially improved our image around the Alamitos Bay community.

Just last month the BCA sponsored a new major racing event, The Naples Island Collegiate Rowing Challenge (“NICRC”), held November 1 and 2. Using a “head” race format of 4200 meters around Naples Island and to the end of Marine Stadium, this event was a major success! Nine colleges from as far away as Arizona State University entered men’s and women’s varsity and novice eights and fours for a great two days of racing. Teams from the northwest have expressed interest and will be attending next year. Special thanks to all of the alumni who served on the organizing committee. Many thanks to the Long Beach Rowing Association and the City of Long Beach for their help and support in establishing this event, as well as to the many sponsors who contributed to make this initial regatta so successful. In coming years this regatta will become the highlight of the fall race season for most of the west coast crew teams.

With community support for LBSU Rowing on the upswing, how long has it been since you have been to a LBSU Rowing event? Look for the BCA Newsletter in January for the team’s racing schedule and save some dates to come out to cheer for your team! And while you are at the races look for the BCA Alumni group to personally reconnect with your crewmates and friends from your days in the boats.

If you have not updated your membership for this coming year, please consider that there is still time for a tax deductible donation to the BCA. Your support is making a huge difference in building a quality rowing program at LBSU! You can still send your $25 membership fee and any other contribution via

Best wishes for the Holidays and Into the New Year!


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Go Beach!

Kenneth Glenn ’71
Brandin Grams ’10
Director of Outreach