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Silver Medal Crew Team to Receive New Boat

Smith Crew, 2004 NCAA Silver Medalists

When Elizabeth “Tica” Barrett Simpson ’79 attended school here, she spent much of her time rowing hard in a racing boat, called a shell, as a member of the successful crew team.

Last May, as Simpson attended her 25th reunion at Smith, she was delighted to learn of the 2004 crew team’s recent success at the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division III tournament in Sacramento, California, in which it surpassed expectations by bringing home a silver medal.

Following her reunion, Simpson’s husband, Tad LaFountain III, made a donation to the college in her honor of a new, 56-foot, $25,000 racing shell for the crew team. The shell is a Vespoli 8, designed to accommodate eight racers plus a coxswain.

The “Tica Simpson ’79,” as the boat will be named, will be officially christened during a ceremony on Friday, October 29, in which Director of Athletics Lynn Oberbillig will be joined by Tica Simpson, Smith President Carol T. Christ and head crew coach Karen Klinger. The christening ceremony will take place at 7 p.m. on Chapin Lawn.

The celebration, which will culminate with the symbolic pouring of champagne over the boat’s bow, will also honor the silver-medal achievement of last year’s team.

The donation of a new crew racing shell will further enhance the competitive strength of Smith’s crew team, which is enjoying one of its strongest eras in college history, says Klinger. A new shell, with a fresh finish will give the crew team a faster, more nimble boat in which to compete.

“Getting a new boat is like getting your first new car,” comments Klinger. “This shell is a ‘porsche,’ fast and sleek. Most of our athletes will only row in one, maybe two new boats in their careers, so the smell, feel and looks of one are very special.”

The new shell will join the team’s fleet of six eight-person boats and four four-person boats. The team last purchased a new 8-person racing shell three years ago.

The crew shell gift will provide benefits as well to the athletics program and to the college, says Oberbillig. “This crew shell donation from an alum is significant in many ways. The crew team will have a faster, better boat heading into their championships season. The athletic department can use the funds that would have gone for a new shell to help out other programs. But best of all, we enhance our relationship with alumnae, who are so important to our continued success.”

Smith’s 2005 crew team, which has 80 members, expects to be a strong contender in tournament competition again this year. Most of the members from last year’s medal-winning team have returned to compete.

The addition of the Tica Simpson ’79 will assist that effort.

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