California State University, Long Beach

Alumni Go Head-to-Head Against the Clock

Saturday, 9. November 2013


Four boats of alumni, “Win I’m 64!”, 1974 Lightweights, “Team KG”, and “Bolla & Co.” took it to the water to battle out in their annual Alumni Challenge at Long Beach State’s Fall Regatta. As a series of time-delayed starts based on USRowing masters handicaps, “Team KG” still managed to pull out way ahead, even after a 25 second delay at the start. An additional 25 seconds will be added next year as a penalty for winning… all in good spirits.

“Win I’m 64!” consisted of rowers from our late 1960’s, early 1970’s era. In it’s inaugural year in 2012, Dave Straley (’70) turned that wonderful age based on the Beatles title “When I’m 64”, so all of his friends got in the boat.

“Team KG” was a boat of recent grads going back to 2006, “KG” as an honor to the 1-year anniversary of Beach Crew’s “‘KillaGrams” Empacher 8+, named after Brandin Grams (’10). It was also the first time Brandin himself actually sat in the shell, a year after its christening.

No need to explain the 1974 Lightweights, who continue to be one happy family since being undefeated back in the day, until now.

“Bolla & Co.” was a boat brought to you by Elizabeth Bolla, a bunch of gals who just wanted to have fun. “Who cares who won,” is what they thought. All of them are happy to be here and in good spirit of life-long friendships.

Until then, see you at the Saturday Rows.

Exciting Changes to Annual Fall Regatta

Wednesday, 9. October 2013


There are some exciting changes happening at the 2013 Long Beach Fall Collegiate Invitational Regatta. 81 years ago, Long Beach hosted a terrific Olympic competition and today, continues to live by that legacy to designate itself as the “Aquatic Capital of America.”

Once started as a small event with UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine, this event has grown to become a premiere training event for novice crews and referees. It is our goal to provide an inclusive environment that celebrates the sport. Our participants run the gamut from novice to expert, bringing a wide range of competitive experience to this event. As it continues to gain popularity, we have come across an opportunity to make this event stand out event more.

In our 8th consecutive year hosting this event, we are working to expand this fall collegiate event to provide a national alternative to those events that were displaced in Newport Harbor this year. Newport Aquatic Center announced in September that the Annual Newport Autumn Rowing Festival will drop all collegiate/open and masters events, leaving a huge gap in events for many schools across the nation. While we’re up to the challenge, this requires a lot of planning, sponsorship, and approval by the City of Long Beach. Key members of our alumni association have been working hard the past few months in collaboration with other schools in the area to make Long Beach a new home for an annual fall collegiate event. We hope to give you the details this time next year. Until then, you can enjoy the events we’ve always had, including the race around Naples Island, and the novice sprints inside the Historic Marine Stadium.

We are still looking for some volunteers on and off the water. If you are an alum or a friend of the team interested in doing so, please contact Sherri Kline.

We’d like to thank all of our alumni, the Seal Beach Lion’s Club, the Long Beach Yacht Club, the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club, the City of Long Beach, our SW region USRowing referees, and our volunteers that have contributed countless hours to make this regatta a landmark event for the Southern California teams.

See you November 9th!

Get the official regatta information at

Beach Review: Alums Row On to Support Beach Crew

Thursday, 15. August 2013


Long Beach State crew alums. Photo by David J. Nelson

Picking Up the Oars Again

By Dave Straley • Spring 2013

I was working for USAID in Jakarta, Indonesia, in the early ’80s and saw a photo in a U.S. news magazine of eight former Harvard crew members dressed in street clothes sitting in a shell at a dock. The photo caption of the reunion highlighted their professional careers. I thought, how passive. If you get an alumni boat together, you should row.

Living and working overseas for years, I never had the opportunity to stay in touch with former rowers, let alone organize a reunion row. Even when I settled back in the U.S. full-time, I was far away from Long Beach.

Five years ago, Beach Crew formed BCA to raise funds for Beach Crew and re-connect old crewmates. With the BCA database, it was just a matter of picking the shortest of all races, the 800 meters LB Fall Regatta, and asking those on the list from my era if they wanted to row in a 60 and Over boat.


Beach Crew members in the late 1960s practice in Long Beach Marine Stadium near the Appian Way bridge. Photo courtesy of Steve Ryan

Rowers never forget the glide, sounds of the oar-locks in unison, boat house camaraderie, and hypnotic concentration of trying to make each stroke cleaner and stronger than the one before it. They also don’t forget the pain in the thighs and anaerobic gasping for air.

Because of the latter, getting a reunion row was a bit of a challenge. I had to soft-sell it as an exhibition row—800 meters, not the collegiate 2,000, and not a race. We would just paddle and might bargain for some kind of age-adjusted handicap. We were doing this to get back together and show off after 40-plus years.

And, naming the boat “When I’m 64,” or “Win I’m 64,” also had a great marketing draw for my generation. You’re back at the boat-house rowing in your sixties, not saving all year to rent a cottage for a weekend on the Isle of Wight.

The response was either an emphatic “No” or “Ssure, but do you know how insane this is.” The only one who didn’t consider it insane was Earl Johnson, who at 83 still rows daily. It’s telling that in all the calls, we would reminisce about Beach Crew first and then talk about kids and careers.

The regatta turned out to be a race, not an exhibition. I lied. Hearing about our boat, a 1974 alumni boat pulled together eight 50 and overs at the last minute to challenge us. We took a handicap by jumping the start. Greg Kelley, the four-year varsity coxswain belted out commands as if he was in a ’60-’70s time warp. We lost by several hundred meters to the novice crew, but beat the younger 50-and-over boat, by open water.

It was physically challenging. I can safely say that we didn’t get the glide or hypnotic concentration we enjoyed as former athletes. We did, however, successfully bring back the camaraderie, and had a hell of a lot of fun. Those living in the area now get together on the first Saturday of every month to relive Beach Crew with an alumni row.

Long Beach State President King Alexander, who rowed during his years at Oxford, came down to meet with BCA and show his support.

Rowing at Long Beach was my best take-away from college. A black and white 1970 crew photo hangs prominently over my desk. I don’t have a clue as to where my two LB diplomas are.

To learn more, see the accompanying article Alums Row on to Support Beach Crew.

Dave Straley (1970, B.A.; 1974, M.A., economics) is a certified public accountant and principal of Third Creek, an investment, accounting and venture capital firm that also funds a foundation to support socially responsible local and international charities.

Alums Row On to Support Beach Crew

By Anne Ambrose • Spring 2013


Beach Crew alums, Brandin Grams (’10), and former Activities Advisor, Dr. Ludwig Spolyar (’56) christen the “KillaGrams” Empacher 8+ racing shell.

As one of the oldest athletic teams at Long Beach State, rowing—better known as crew—continues to be a popular varsity club sport whose members compete nationally.

Being part of such a renowned group brought back fond memories, so three years ago a group of former men and women rowers formed the Beach Crew Alumni Association (BCA) to build camaraderie, recall the team’s rich legacy of accomplishments as well as raise money to support current teams.

As a way to build momentum, alum Dave Straley spearheaded the inaugural Alumni Challenge race for 1960s and ’70s alums at the Long Beach State Fall Regatta that will become part of the annual competition. (See the accompanying article, Picking Up the Oars Again.)

Many of the alums hadn’t seen each other nor rowed since college, while others had stayed in touch with teammates.

“I was more than thrilled to receive such an opportunity to get back on the water and reunite with rowing buddies from the past,” said alum Steve Ryan. “I think we all had the similar feeling that it would be somewhat like riding a bicycle. We were able to schedule one practice row before the big race, and it was indeed just like getting back on a bicycle. We were all a bit rusty with our technique but it didn’t take long to feel like a team. After more than 40 years away from the sport, all of the required skills were laying dormant, just waiting for the opportunity to row again in an eight-man shell.

“The event and reunion was a blockbuster hit,” Ryan said. “Friendships were renewed. Our spirit of rowing was renewed. And, the team enthusiasm has led to a first Saturday of each month alumni row. For me, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Reunion guests also attended the dedication of a new CSULB Empacher racing shell called “KillaGrams” funded by 2010 alum Brandin Grams and other crew alumni donors and heard remarks from Ludwig Spolyar, a former student activities adviser who organized the first Long Beach State team in 1957.

Starting with 64 charter members, the BCA has identified more than 600 alumni and hopes to increase its membership across all generations of Long Beach State rowers.

To learn more, visit or see videos at