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Freshmen Play Key Role in Journey to Syracuse

June 17, 1989|ELLIOTT ALMOND

Lee Miller, UCLA's assistant crew coach, spends his days bellowing instructions to rowers at the team's boat house in Marina del Rey.

But when Miller ordered 19 freshmen to voluntarily relinquish their seats on a flight home from a regatta in Redwood City, Calif., last April, many wondered about their coach's motives.

Miller's resourcefulness, however, assured the financially strapped crew of 19 ticket vouchers worth $200 each, compensation for giving up the seats on an overbooked flight from San Francisco.

The circumstance allowed the varsity to send eight- and four-man crews and a pair to Syracuse, N.Y., to the prestigious Intercollegiate Rowing Assn. regatta recently.

The Bruins' flight to Syracuse cost $238, so each rower needed only about $40 to make the trip. UCLA finished second in the varsity fours and fourth in the varsity eights.

"We're doing anything we can to stay competitive," Bruin Coach Zenon Babraj said. "We couldn't have afforded that trip, but it was important for us to be there."

Babraj said the crew needed the competition to prepare for the national regatta today in Cincinnati. He said funds had been budgeted for the nationals but not the Syracuse regatta.

What did the freshmen say, when asked to wait for a later flight?

"What could they say?" Babraj said.

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