Monday, January 08, 2024

The Boys In The Boat - The True StorY

 Great crews may have men or women of exceptional talent or strength; they may have outstanding coxswains or stroke oars or bowmen; but they have no star. The team effort—the perfectly synchronized flow of muscle, oars, boat—​that is the key.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics is a non-fiction novel written by Daniel James Brown 

A life without challenge, a life without hardship, a life without passion, a life without purpose, is no life at all.

The US rowing team's victory at Hitler's 1936 Olympics is charted in a dramatic Depression-era account destined for Hollywood

BERLIN, MAY 1936—three years before the end of the Great Depression and the start of World War II. Adolf Hitler has spent millions sprucing up the city to demonstrate German dominance to the world. But on a placid lake in the suburb of Grünau, a crew of no-name rowers from the University of Washington challenges the favored German and Italian teams for one of the most thrilling finishes in Olympic history. In his best-selling 2013 book The Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown details the events that led to that race, focusing especially on Northwest native Joe Rantz. 

For this story, which has captivated more than two million readers to date, we have Joe Rantz’s daughter Judy Willman to thank.

 It was Willman who introduced Brown to her dying father, and whose tireless research helped bring the tale to life. This month, the PBS series American Experiencebrings the story to the small screen, with never-before-seen news footage and reenactments shot at the UW boathouse where it all began.

Judy Willman, Daughter of a Boy in the Boat The Olympic rower’s daughter reflects on golden memories.

"Joe Rantz is the ultimate underdog," he said. "He was abandoned by his family continuously until he was 13, until the nail in the coffin from his dad and his stepmother when they left him forever. Joe was 13 years old and decided what happened wouldn't define him. He was able to pull himself up by his bootstraps and do the impossible. I find him so inspiring, and then what he was able to do in the boat as well was remarkable."

Clooney confirmed that the appeal of an underdog story is universal, even with people who aren't one.

"I think everybody considers themselves an underdog. I've met really rich, successful people who were like, 'Yeah, we barely made it through on that one.' I think everybody, in their heart, thinks of themselves as one," he laughed. "I think we like these stories because most of the time, we've seen that it doesn't work out, so when they do work out, we enjoy them and look forward to them. Sports movies and war films, in particular, do that really well. People don't love to watch A Bridge Too Far and see everybody lose at the end."

George Clooney Took A Financial Hit To Get ‘The Boys In The Boat’ Made

In 1936, an obscure rowing team from the University of Washington traveled to Germany to participate in the Olympic Games. It was the depths of the Great Depression. These were working-class boys whose small mining and lumber towns donated bits of money so they could travel to Berlin. Every aspect of the competition seemed stacked against them, but something happened in the race. In the rowing world, they call it “swing.” Listen to this description based on the book The Boys in the Boat:

There is a thing that sometimes happens that is hard to achieve and hard to define. It’s called “swing.” It happens only when all are rowing in such perfect unison that not a single action is out of sync.
Rowers must rein in their fierce independence and at the same time hold true to their individual capabilities. Races are not won by clones. Good crews are good blends—someone to lead the charge, someone to hold something in reserve, someone to fight the fight, someone to make peace. No rower is more valuable than another, all are assets to the boat, but if they are to row well together, each must adjust to the needs and capabilities of the others—the shorter-armed person reaching a little farther, the longer-armed person pulling in just a bit.

Differences can be turned to advantage instead of disadvantage. Only then will it feel as if the boat is moving on its own. Only then does pain entirely give way to exultation. Good “swing” feels like poetry.
Against towering obstacles, this team found perfect swing and won. The Olympic gold was exhilarating, but the unity each rower experienced that day was a holy moment that stayed with them all their lives.

- Sister Sharon Eubank, October 2020 General Conference

6 Ways The Boys In The Boat Changes The True Story