Dennis “Denny” Coates (1961-62)

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Jul 172021
Dennis Coates with team
“Denny” Coates is holding up the crooked Number-2 oar.

In 1960, Del Beekley led the effort to restart the rowing program at San Diego State. Back then, the team would row out of the 1891 Rowing Club at the foot of 5th Avenue, San Diego Bay. I showed up for the first meeting in a coat-&-tie. Del got me on a rowing machine then told me to report for practice the next week.

If I remember correctly, we worked out six times a week – 5 regular practices and a Saturday morning endurance run to the salt pile in Chula Vista. Every so often we would row west and dodge the Coronado ferry boats. We gained a lot of experience in rough waters. The Navy guys quickly learned if they cut across our bow the wake would swamp us, and seemed to enjoy attempting to do so. Most workouts were late afternoons and ended with dark waters, silhouettes, cold and wet. The winner of the final sprint of the practice got first dibs for the only warm-water showers available – that kept us motivated.

Dennis @ the 2017 Alumni Row

Most races I stroked the JV (lightweight) boat. However, Coach put me in the number-2 seat in the Varsity boat often enough that I lettered (Crew was a Varsity sport back then). I really enjoyed the combination of physics and zen that is rowing.

I was raised in Pacific Beach and called San Diego home through college, but I moved around a lot after graduation. I spent five years in the Air Force, two years in graduate school at Stanford, two years in New York, and finally two years in San Francisco before coming back to San Diego. I am now happily retired.

I love and enjoy my kids and grandkids. I have been heading out to the Sierras every summer for the last twenty-plus years with a great bunch of guys. There is a sense of teamwork involved with camping that is not unlike the special teamwork of rowing.

Crew has a very special place in my heart!

 Posted by at 6:25 AM

Where are they now? – Levi Imbuzan (2012-2017)

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Apr 282021

Born in Romania, Levi immigrated with his parents to the United States in 1998. His heart was set on joining the Marine Corps since he was 12 years old, but his dreams were dashed when his parents refused to sign the paperwork to allow him to join at 17. Not yet possessing the cognitive abilities to decide to wait one year, Levi set himself to taking the ACT and SAT, and applying for any and all colleges in the last month applications were open. Secretly hoping to be accepted into San Diego State, his (new) dream finally came true and he was admitted into the school through the International Business Management major.

Levi went through his first year of college motivated but with no clear end goal in sight. One day he happened to stumble upon a recruiting poster for Marine Corps Officers, which only required a pulse and a bachelor’s degree. Knowing he possessed at least one of the two, Levi’s lifelong dream of joining the Marines was renewed, and he strived to be accepted into the Officer Program. At the time, he lacked all sense of self-discipline, and knew he was not in good enough shape to meet the stringent physical fitness requirements without some outside help. He gravitated toward the rowing program after hearing an impassioned speech about “The Pursuit of Excellence” from Coach Doug Perez and watching “The Social Network”.

Levi quickly fell in love with the discipline and brutality of rowing. He accepted the harsh realities of the sport and learned the incalculable value of an indomitable spirit and above all, that his achievements in life were limited only by the magnitude of his desire to achieve them. Graduating in 2017, he promptly shipped off to the highlands of Quantico, Virginia to learn Marine Corps leadership and warfighting tactics in the war against the (fictional) Centralian Separatists. Competitively selected to be a Communications Officer, Levi now serves in Okinawa, Japan with Combat Logistics Regiment 37.

He is currently working on his Masters Degree in Computer Science from Georgia Tech and looks forward to transitioning out of the Marine Corps and working for Amazon or Microsoft in Seattle, Washington in 2021. He credits rowing with providing him with the foundation of self-discipline, hard work, and pain tolerance that has allowed him to achieve so much in life. He can be found frequenting the local beaches of Okinawa, mask on, rowing oar tattoos blazing in the sun.

If any young rowers would like to reach out for guidance on the IB program, Officer selection process, or for any other reason he can be contacted at

Where are they now? – Bernard Aparicio (2011-2016)

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Mar 142021

Bernie rowed as a lightweight under coaches Brian Robison, Derek Snyder, Doug Perez, and Toby Johnson. His years at SDSU were sleep deprived, and are now a fogged out memory. However, one of his earliest anecdotes at SDSU involved this lack of sleep. One day, after a killer evening erg, he fell asleep on a bench outside Tenochca. That was his bed for the night, and 4:30 in the morning his teammates woke him up to go to morning practice. Henceforth, the crew team claimed his dreams and soul. While at school, he worked harder, not smarter. But his discipline skated him through difficult times, and a tenacity to take on any endeavor to graduate and succeed in sport got him through school with a degree, a collection of tanks, and a reputation.

After graduating, he joined the 9-5 at TYLIN international, where he worked on airports, bridges, highways, and utility projects. He enjoyed the engineering work and the challenges of the professional world. He continued to row at San Diego Rowing Club, and was also caught teaching the occasional watersports class or hustling pizza on the weekends. He met a multitude of old SDSU oarsmen while in San Diego, and found great joy watching the team continue to grow as years passed.

However, the rowing bug had bit Bernie hard and he made a terrible economic decision. He put the engineer career on hold to row professionally. He moved to Philadelphia, where he lives in a monastery and rows with Vesper as they prepare a team for the next international race. The dream put in his head on a bench outside T-Nasty has now become the real nightmare.

After spending two years training with the program and ultimately missing the Vesper selection for the lightweight mens 2x, Bernie decided to enter into the open weight 1x trials to race against 24 of the fastest single scullers in the United States vying for a lane in Tokyo.

Despite having only a few weeks to train in the single leading up to the event, Bernie placed 9th overall in what is the most competitive race in the United States. As former rowers we can’t help but be equal parts nostalgic and proud of what Bernie has accomplished to date.

The erg is brutal and the competition is merciless. But the journey has paid itself back a thousand fold.

He one day hopes to grow up and finally “adult”.

 Posted by at 3:15 PM

Where are they Now? – Glenn Schweighardt – (1973-1974)

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Aug 312020

Glenn Schweighardt - SDSU 1973-1974As a 5th year senior at SDSU in ’73/’74, it was my last year to get a Varsity jacket. As a Community College transfer, I sat out the spring semester so I could start in the Fall of ’71 with all the other new students. Tennis was my primary sport at the time. However, my JC did not have tennis and the Athletic Director would not let me start a program, hence my tennis career took a nosedive – other than me teaching private lessons and entering SoCal tournaments.

Fast forward to the Fall of ’73. My roommate, who I transferred to SDSU with and knew since the 8th grade, met a couple of guys on the rowing team. He told me he was thinking about going out for Crew. I told him we didn’t know anything about rowing, and would never make a boat as novices. He went out anyway and 3 weeks later told me I should go out – the team wasn’t very good and he thought we could make Varsity. I said you’ve got to be kidding, but knowing it was my last shot at a Varsity jacket, I would give it a try. Back then Men’s Crew was a Varsity (funded) sport and Women’s Crew did not yet exist.

Long story short, my roommate was right; we made the Varsity. We raced in the Western Sprints up in Canada at the end of the season in a Varsity 4+ and made it through the heats and reps to make the final where we finished 5th. Back in those days all the crews on the west coast raced in the Western Sprints. That included Washington, Cal, Stanford, UCLA, Long Beach, UCLA, Santa Barbara and several Oregon schools.

We had so much fun and everything was paid for by SDSU that I’ve rowed continuously now for 47 years. Rowing has changed my life. I met my wife rowing (she was a coxin), two of my daughters rowed for the SDRC Juniors and my best friends are all rowers.

Thank you,

 Posted by at 4:00 PM