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Shared Dreams Push Us to Excel

In their book, Known, Dick and Ruth Foth write that:

During the Great Depression, nine ordinary young men from the University of Washington accomplished had an extraordinary dream. They labored together in effort and accountability, as an embryonic rowing team, to take on much stronger rowing programs like Cal Berkeley and Harvard and Yale. And they won.

In his magnificent book The Boys in the Boat. Daniel James Brown describes what the boys' coach saw as they worked with and for each other: "He … heard them declare their dreams and confess their shortcomings. … He learned to see hope where a boy thought there was no hope. … He observed the fragility of confidence and the redemptive power of trust."

Brown details the grueling training schedules, early mornings and late nights, the lack of money, and the desire to quit. He examines the lives and the challenges of each of the young athletes and their years-long striving for victory. Then he tells what the coach discovered as nine friends fought for their dream:

He came to understand how those almost mystical bonds of trust and affection, if nurtured correctly, might lift a crew above the ordinary sphere, transport it to a place where nine boys somehow became one thing—a thing that could not quite be defined, a thing that was so in tune with the water and the earth and the sky above that, as they rowed, effort was replaced by ecstasy. It was a rare thing, a sacred thing, a thing devoutly to be hoped for.

In 1936, those nine young men took their rowing shell, the Husky Clipper, to Hitler's Germany to take on the world in the Olympics. And they brought home the gold. Shared dreams push us to excel.

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