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Get to Know… Archives – First Name M – Z

Paula Merkle – 2012 BRC Treasurer

Who is the BRC rower trying to get back to Hooville?

How long have you been rowing?  Since the summer of 2000.  Rob Creath was my novice coach.

How did you get involved in rowing?  Learning to row was on my “post-40″ list of things to do.  I got totally hooked and never bothered with a “post-50″ list.

Your most memorable rowing experience?  There have been many, but flipping the Fort McHenry before the start of the Occoquan Challenge in 2004 rises to the top.  Wendy Shields and I had been sculling for about four months, were supposed to race in the masters 2x for Head of the Charles in two weeks (not our idea and we weren’t remotely qualified), and we were desperately trying to get racing experience.  I emerged from the water steaming mad, Wendy was laughing hysterically–we finally got back in (another story), and rowed to the start. Wendy offered to quit laughing if I quit steaming.  We pulled ourselves together and rowed the race, coming in DFL with about 20 gallons of water in the boat.  It was hard to take racing too seriously after that debacle. 

Favorite book, poem, movie, musician, or artist?  Too many to list

What is your favorite thing to do AWAY from the boathouse?   Enjoy my husband’s company.

What historical figure do you most identify with?  At my age, I AM a historical figure.

What is your most treasured possession?  I think that depends on what aspect of my life we are discussing.  My most treasured ROWING possession is Female Trouble.

Which words or phrases do you most over-use?  “just”  “seriously” “what did you say?” “RATS”  “Crap” and it goes downhill from there

What is your motto?  My boys would say my motto is “suck it up.”

Who has been the greatest influence on you?  My mother.

Anything else you want to share?  Uh, no.

Peregrine Bell-Upp

PerBHow long have you been rowing? 8 of the past 10 years

How did you get involved in rowing? I began rowing at Umass in 2002 on the advice of a high school friend. After dropping out, I learned to scull at the nearest club, GMS RC, because there otherwise wasn’t anyone to row with. I’ve been sculling ever since.

Your most memorable rowing experience? Swamping an 8+ in Tampa Bay. In an active shipping lane. 10 minutes before sundown. In mid-January. A cost guard helicopter wound up coming out for that one.

There was also the time I hit a deer in the head with my oar while sculling. At a glance over my shoulder, I’d thought the dark object moving across the water was a goose that would steer clear of me. I didn’t know deer had the slightest inclination to swim, before then. Much thrashing ensued.

I also remember as a coach charging out in a launch to fetch one of the more independent juniors who had not checked the radar before he launched. I caught up with him just as a summer squall hit, which fortunately included wind and rain only. Funny how the most memorable moments occur when things don’t go according to plan.

Favorite book, poem, movie, musician, or artist?

  • Book: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  • Movie: Children of Men

What is your favorite thing to do AWAY from the boathouse? Scientific research remains the largest focus of my attention. I’m not in grad school just for the money and the women, you know. Outside of work, though, a hobby of mine is to brew beers and cider.

What historical figure do you most identify with? Too early in the story to say. Jonas Salk was a complete badass though.

What is your motto? “There is only one rule that I know of babies — ‘God @#*% it, you’ve got to be kind.”

Who has been the greatest influence on you? My parents have always been patient and supportive of my endeavors, and they’re great folks to talk to.

Anything else you want to share? (-)-epicatechin has been shown in mice to improve cardiovascular endurance and increase the number of mitochondria in muscle cells. I consider it to be justification to pair every workout with the consumption of the darkest chocolate I can get my hands on. It’s delicious, delicious science.

Rock Singewald

How long have you been rowing? 16 years

How did you get involved in rowing? My kids, Laura and James, were taking sculling lessons

Your most memorable rowing experience?  A tie; Winning at the Charles and Worlds, and the men’s 8+ at Charm City Sprints

Least memorable? Flipping at 750m in the finals of my single at Masters Nationals

Favorite book, poem, movie, musician, or artist?

  • Book:  Confederate General from Big Sur, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  • Movie: Tie: Rancho Deluxe, Steelyard Blues, Nobody’s Fool, Tin Cup, Over the Hedge
  • Poem: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
  • Musicians: Otis, Janis, Jimi, Chrissie, Patti Smith, Jerry, Bob D
  • Artists: Laura and James

What is your favorite thing to do AWAY from the boathouse? Sleep

What historical figure do you most identify with?  Marc Daemen

What is your most treasured possession? Besides my health and a seat in the Octuple, my kids’ art and my life with Anne out on the farm

Which words or phrases do you most over-use?That’s great!”  & “Up 2!”

What is your motto? “Ain’t the beer cold?”

Who has been the greatest influence on you? The judge in my divorce proceedings

Anything else you want to share? Don’t forget you are supposed to be having fun when you row…

Sarah Lohnes Watulak

How long have you been rowing?  2 years in college, and since April 2011 with BRC

How did you get involved in rowing?  At the beginning of the spring semester of my freshman year in college, a couple of friends in my dorm who had joined the rowing team told me the team was looking for coxswains.  I’m about 5′- 4″ – average height for a woman, thank you very much! :) -  but I assume they approached me because they thought I could fit in the cox seat.  I’d played team sports growing up and through high school, so the idea of joining a team was appealing – 4:30 am wake up calls not withstanding, of course.  I coxed for a couple of seasons, and rowed for a sprint season.

Flash forward about 13 years… I moved to Baltimore for work, and had been thinking about getting back into rowing, so was thrilled to find BRC.

Your most memorable rowing experience?  Launching a 4+ from a beach along the Charles River while coxing the ’97 HOCRowing to the Inner Harbor this springCompeting at Charm City Sprints, Capital Sprints, and Quaker City Masters’ with some great Open women rowers

Favorite book, poem, movie, musician, or artist?

  • Book?  Too many to name.  Lately been reading The Man from Bejing by Henning Mankell; The Magician King by Lev Grossman; and the Sookie Stackhouse novels.

What is your favorite thing to do AWAY from the boathouse?  Read, explore Baltimore’s restaurants, go to O’s games, hang out with my husband and friends

Which words or phrases do you most over-use?  “Word up” “no problem” “sounds good”

Anything else you want to share?  I’m a professor of educational technology at Towson… grew up in Worcester, MA (yes, I’m a Patriots fan – go Pats!), lived in Middlebury, Vermont; New London and Norwalk, Conn.; Nantes, France; and Manhattan before moving to Baltimore 3 years ago… live with my husband and 2 cats in Hampden, hon! and have been really enjoying everything Baltimore has to offer (which is lots!).

Scott Kappas

scottHow long have you been rowing? 3 years. I didn’t row until my junior year at the University of Toledo.

How did you get involved in rowing? I had a few friends that were involved in the club at school, so I figured I would try it out. It was more of a way for me to meet new people and stay involved.

Your most memorable rowing experience? Although it wasn’t funny at the time, our Men’s 4 collided with Cleveland State’s at the Head of the Cuyahoga. We weren’t prepared for all of the turns of the Cuyahoga, and it taught me a few good lessons about being a coxswain when I started coxing the women.

Favorite book, poem, movie, musician, or artist?

  • Books: The Big Bang by Simon Singh and Murder of the Orient Express
  • Movies: All Quiet on the Western Front (1930 version) and Taxi Driver
  • Artist: The Arcade Fire

What is your favorite thing to do AWAY from the boathouse? I love to run and bike. I haven’t gotten into yet in Maryland but I love hiking and fishing.

What historical figure do you most identify with? Roger Boisjoly. He’s not really a “historical” figure, but he’s an engineer who tried to get NASA to stop the launch of Challenger in 1986 before it exploded. As an engineer, whenever I think about him, I think of standing up for what is right and ethical in my profession, even though it may be unpopular or inconvenient.

What is your most treasured possession? My medal from my first marathon.

Which words or phrases do you most over-use? To start sentences, “See, that’s the thing,…”

What is your motto? “A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.”

Who has been the greatest influence on you? My high school coach for cross country and track and a lot of my friends. I like to surround myself with people I look up to.

Anything else you want to share? I just moved to Baltimore from the Cleveland area, where I grew up. I work at Transnuclear in Columbia, a company that has designed storage canisters for over 50% of US nuclear waste material, including the canisters that are storing the damaged uranium from the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. I interned at a nuclear power plant in the Toledo area, and it’s an industry I feel very strongly about.

Stacy Arnold

How long have you been rowing? Graduated from Spring Novice 2010

How did you get involved in rowing?  It was an impulsive mid-life crisis now or never adventure.  I wanted to slay my “middle-school-gym-class-anxiety-never done-a-team-sport-in-my-life-dragon.”   I always thought rowing was aesthetic and hey who won’t love to glide on the water in the oh-so- beautiful Baltimore harbor?  I signed up on a cold dark day in February.

It’s proven to be the perfect elixir.  There’s nothing quite like being trapped in a boat with nowhere to hide and seven others people depending on you. I learned to suck it up and row through my insecurities.  In the process, I found my inner yet somewhat awkward athlete and made some lovely friends too.  To quote Joe Jones, “I’ve caught the rowing bug.”

Your most memorable rowing experience?  It was exhilarating preparing for and competing as a novice in the Charm City and Capital Sprints! I loved everything about it. The challenging practices, adrenaline rushes, pushing your physical limits and most of all I loved the camaraderie that developed amongst my teammates.

Favorite book, poem, movie, musician, or artist?

  • Books: Recent Favs – Life of Pi, In Defense of Food, The Road, Feast
  • Movies: A few from a very long list – Fargo, American Beauty, Wizard of Oz, Winter’s Bone, Once Upon a Time in the West, Lost in Translation…
  • Music: Talking Heads, Beck, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, k d Lang, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Costello, James Hunter…
  • Artist(s): Phillip Guston, Eva Hesse

What is your favorite thing to do AWAY from the boathouse?   I’m interested in all things related to food—cooking, sustainability, farmer’s markets, gastro-diplomacy, slow food, food history etc.  I make artwork (currently drawings/paintings) and I love spending time with family and friends.

What historical figure do you most identify with? Julia Child—she was fearless!

What is your most treasured possession? I wouldn’t call them a possession but I do deeply treasure my family and friends.

What is your motto?  Do what you love and the rest will follow.

Who has been the greatest influence on you? My Dad—he believed in me and encouraged me to follow my passions.  My mother-in-law—she was the definition of awesomeness. My kids Max and Lillian—they keep me humble.

Anything else you want to share? I am a producer/social media consultant for InfoCulture a pro-social media company (film, web, electronic).

Zibi Turtle

How long have you been rowing?  Depends how you count it.  See below…

How did you get involved in rowing?  I joined the crew team for winter training after the volleyball season ended my freshman year at MIT — winter 1986, for those keeping track for the first question.  However, I made the decision to focus on my studies during the spring semester _before_ ever getting out on the water.  It wasn’t until I took a sculling class to fulfill a Phys Ed requirement in the fall semester of my senior year that I actually rowed on the water, after which I asked the coach if I could join the team partway through the fall season and, very happily, he agreed to let me.  So that year (1988-1989, for those keeping count ) I raced the Foot of the Charles through Eastern Sprints.  Thereafter followed a 17-year hiatus, as I went to graduate school at the Univ. of Arizona in Tucson and ended up staying there for a postdoc and then a faculty job.  After moving to Maryland to take a job at the Applied Physics Lab., I started rowing with BRC in June 2007, first joining the novice class taught by Niels and Karen Pfarr, then rowing with open, and then in the mornings with the women’s masters 8+ that Paula organized for HOCR that year.

Your most memorable rowing experience?  What happens in Vienna, stays in Vienna :}  More seriously, the entirety of my experiences with people and rowing at BRC has been absolutely wonderful, and I have so many great memories from all the different boats and events and good friends that I don’t have space to even begin to list them!

Favorite book, poem, movie, musician, or artist?

  • It’s exceedingly hard to choose a favorite book but here are a couple: The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula Le Guin and The River Why, David James Duncan
  • Poem: The Second Coming, Yeats
  • Movies (also very hard to choose): Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V; LadyHawke; Aliens; The Philadelphia Story
  • Musician: Bach; Peter Gabriel; Sting
  • Artist: Monet

What is your favorite thing to do AWAY from the boathouse?    My absolutely favorite activity is to spend time with my nieces.  I also like to cook, read, and watch movies, and any activities that involve snow: skiing, sledding, shoveling.

What is your most treasured possession?  The watch my mother gave me for my college graduation, which sadly she didn’t live to see.

Which words or phrases do you most over-use?  Others are probably better judges of this, but I almost certainly overuse “deploy” and other jargon from work.

What is your motto?  Ad astra per aspera (To the stars through hardships)

Who has been the greatest influence on you?  A wonderfully long and ever growing list of family, friends and teachers.

Anything else you want to share? I’m actually not a morning person.

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