Douglas John Herland

Douglas Herland

An alumnus of Pacific Lutheran University, Douglas John Herland grew up in Bend Oregon.  Saddled with a childhood disease of Osteogenisis Imperfecta that left his bones extremely brittle, Doug wanted desperately to participate in sports, but his skeleton severely limited his wishes.  As a child, Doug could step off the front porch and break a bone.  He tried to satisfy his sporting aspirations with managerial duties for the local sports teams, but he longed to participate more fully. Despite the hurdles, Doug achieved the level Eagle Scout, turning down the scoutmasters offer of a horseback ride for the 50 mile hike requirement; Doug walked the 50 miles. When fully grown, Doug was 4'-9" tall and weighed in at 105 lbs.

Once he was attending PLU, four oarsmen crossing the common spied this Oregonian of diminutive size and taking him to the PLU boathouse on American Lake, introduced Doug to Crew. Doug finally found a sport where his size was an advantage and he fell in love with rowing.

Among other noteworthy accomplishments, Doug was the coxswain of a PLU 4+crew that raced to victory in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships.

As a high school junior I met Doug in1975 when he came to Klamath Falls to coach Ewauna Rowing Club. With the base of youth rowing built by Jim Kerns and Tim Hayden, he coached the club to competitive success. During 's Doug's seven years in Klamath Falls, Ewauna Junior Eights became West Coast Champions once and achieved a Silver twice.

In 1977, an Ewauna Rowing Club junior four traveled to Camden New Jersey and Doug coached the crew to the Silver medal in the Junior National Championships.  In 1978, Doug coached a junior composite four representing the western states at the Olympic Sports Festival in Colorado Springs.

Doug was able to talk folks into getting the club three Pocock pair / doubles, two new sets of sweeps as well as other equipment.  He built a three point hydroplane hull from Popular Mechanics plans and that was his coaching launch on Lake Ewauna.

Doug taught crew at Oregon Institute of Technology and due to his effort the Oregon Tech Crew Club started. The OIT Crew club purchased a new Pocock eight in 1980. Crews from Oregon Tech achieved success for the next few years and Doug coached an Oregon Tech straight pair to success in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships in 1980. 

The pair of Michael Collins and I and coach Doug Herland flew to Syracuse New York as the entire Oregon Tech team, borrowed a boat from Navy, then with a respectable 2000 m time of 7:25 advanced through the repechage to the finals and beat pairs from illustrious crews like Harvard, Yale, and Navy, falling only to Wisconsin and Worchester Polytech.  The Oregon Tech Crew returned from Syracuse with bronze.

Doug taught himself to scull and one summer morning we were down at our Spring Street boathouse and noticed some activity at Veteran's park.  We realized that there was a canoe race from Klamath Falls to Keno that day and we decided to row along with the canoes.  Doug and I launched a double and started down the river after the last canoe had passed through the railroad trestle marking the south end of the 2200 m lake. By the time we had reached the Highway 97 bridge, (about 5000m downstream) we had passed all the canoes except 2, and we just kept cruising.  We passed the second place canoe about 1000m later then pushed on to the leader.  These 2 canoes took the race fairly seriously and when we caught the leaders they were exhausted as they thought another canoe was catching them.  When they realized it was a shell they relaxed somewhat.  Doug and I took the next few miles at a leisurely pace, rowing back and forth between the leaders several times to give them each information about the other's progress. With a few miles to go, we decided to press on to Keno to await the finish of the race and allow the canoes their glory, but when the Sunday newspaper picture covering the event was published, it was Doug and I in a double scull who apparently won the 18 mile race.Rosie Ruiz had nothing on us.

After Klamath Falls, Doug moved on to coach at the University of Michigan, to a city program in Baltimore, and finally going full circle, Doug ended up at his alma mater, Pacific Lutheran University. Doug was a fierce advocate of adaptive rowing helping many paraplegics, quadriplegics and other challenged athletes to row through a program he called Freedom on the River.

Along the way he found competitive success with another pair, this one as a coxswain: he coxed the 1984 American pair with of Kevin Still and Roger Espeth to a bronze medal in the Summer Games of the XXIII Olympiad in Los Angeles. While visiting Doug at his parents house in Bend, he put his Olympic medal in my hand. I was impressed by the heft of the medal, but the smile on his face was even more impressive. I could feel Doug, ever the coach, gauging how much I wanted one like it.

Doug continued coaching the PLU crew through his last few years despite failing health asking to be carried to the boats when he could no longer walk. The only thing that stopped him was his passing in 1991 at the age of 39.

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