Seth W. Hoard, Coach and Educator from1929 - 1973
Mr. Hoard first came to work for NYI at the start of the 1929-30 school year. He began his teaching in what was known then as the Literary Department. He taught many subjects including Spanish, Literature and is best known as the head of the NYI rowing program.
He wrote the definitive description of the history of the program in his essay "Rowing at the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind 1950 - 1972". We have expanded his article with images and supplimentary articles. Links to his article is at the end of this page.
|The rowing program at NYI began in the Spring of 1951. The Institute was the only school for the blind in America to include crew as a team sport in it’s athletics program. For over twenty years, NYI held its practices on the Harlem River near Spuyten Duyvil. They participated in many regattas, competitions and demonstration races.|
|Composed of boys from 14 to 18 years of age, the crew raced against such prep schools as the Hun School, Princeton; Pomfret School, Conn; St. Joseph’s School, Philadelphia; and The West Side Rowing Club in Buffalo.|
|Students preparing to board the training barge that was made available by Columbia University. Coach John Hardines (wearing white cap) will train the students to compete against private schools and universities.|
|“The value of the program could hardly be measured by the number of victories won; but viewed as an educational experience, its benefits were many. It afforded blind boys a chance to travel widely up and down the Eastern seaboard, meet with their peers in famous preparatory schools, and even in a great metropolis enjoy a rugged life out-of-doors braving the winds and tides of the Harlem and the Hudson. It gave them a chance to learn something about the maintenance of the boats and the club house. Membership in the crew was a distinct asset when applying for admission to college. Some of our oarsmen were accepted at Syracuse University, at St. Lawrence College, Colgate, Fordham, and Harvard.”|
|Coach Seth Hoard|
|Careening about the Spuyten Duyvil in this cumbersome barge, with ten or twelve blind youths tugging at the sweeps, was an exciting adventure. It had a huge rudder with a wide handle, and one needed to be a good pilot to nudge it safely into the dock. After three weeks, training in the "Cleopatra", the crew was ready to try out the gigs.|
|In June of 1951, the team moved to the Viking Rowing Club boat house that once belonged to the fashionable Union Boat Club. It had been quite elegant in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, but had since fallen into disrepair. The Institute kept the dock repaired and contributed to the general maintenance.|