USRowing Honors “Corki” Rawlings at 2015 Annual Convention with Inaugural Award

by Bob Whitford | Dec 03, 2015
In recognition of continuous and exemplary mentoring, coaching, and friendship that foster esprit de corps and the love of rowing, USRowing would like to honor Corki with this award which is to be named after Barbara “Corki" Rawlings – its first recipient.

When asked to volunteer to work the finish line of a prestigious rowing regatta where her son was racing, my mother eagerly agreed because she knew it is the best seat in the house. 

But when that race came down to the wire and Barbara “Corki” Rawlings made the rightB.Whitford copy call, but was overlooked due to her status as a volunteer, Mom really didn’t let that just slide by. Her only solution after that was to obtain the proper authority and sit for her referee license.  

In recognition of continuous and exemplary mentoring, coaching and friendship that foster esprit de corps and the love of rowing, USRowing would like to honor Corki with this award which is to be named after Barbara “Corki" Rawlings – its first recipient.

The Corki award is a special award to be held in reserve by the Committee until such time as an appropriate recipient surface.

In the end, it turned out that Mom and the other volunteers were correct and would, in turn, be the starting point of her long and tenured career as a USRowing official.

As a small business owner, Corki owned a flag shop that produced custom house flags and yacht club burgees. It was only natural to build a set of flags for referees and finish lines. Her business morphed into custom embroidery, often saving referees from the embarrassment of showing up without an official USRowing shirt.

Many referees had their first exposure to refereeing via the opportunity to ride in a launch or work a finish line with Corki. I think it was years of sailing and being radio officer for the Trans Pac on OCC’s Alaska Eagle that makes for the perfect choice to start or assist the starter with the claim and clear radio communication between regatta control and freaking out coaches. Who can get mad at Corki?

I think her most famous moment as a referee was when she, as the following ref, watched a four catch a crab and roll over. With years of training as a lifeguard and boat operator, she and her driver were first on-scene, freeing a trapped coxswain who could not swim, accounting for the rest of the crew and of course, as the primary ref, turning her attention to stop her watch and get the finish time as well.

Corki has been most fortunate to have spent the last 19 Memorial Days working together with me, her son, for the NCAA Women’s Rowing Championships. Next year in 2016, it will be our 20th event, traveling and working with some of the greatest folks in rowing.

Rowers are not the only folks to have experience Corki’s kind and just heart. She is also a licensed USA Canoe & Kayak referee. Her experience in that sport has opened doors to some of the nicest, competitive and diverse athletes from Sweden, Spain, Canada, Australia and, of course, all over the United States.

Finally, it is so important to acknowledge Corki for being a good person with a good soul, always wishing to give and make better. She has lived her life following simple values of church and the Girl Scouts. Her family and especially her boys are quite proud of their mom!

The USRowing Annual Awards Reception, presented by Nathan Benderson Park, is the last chance to honor the best in the year of rowing. This year's reception will be held Saturday, December 5, 2015 in the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn's Landing. The night will begin with a cocktail hour, followed by a presentation of awards.

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