Lydia Merizon’s name is spoken frequently when the Bates College Division 3 varsity crew team takes to the water in Lewiston, Maine, though she is no longer part of the crew and has graduated from college.
The athletes are referring to the sleek Lydia C. Merizon ’16, a 62-foot racing shell purchased after Lydia graduated last year.
The school bought the $35,000 long, narrow boat in part with a grant from the Merizon Family Fund, established within the Community Foundation by her parents, Frederick “Fritz” and Elizabeth Merizon of Neenah, in 2014. The rest came from their own assets as a thank you gift for the team and the school for the positive experience their daughter had at Bates.
“It was wonderful for her to be able to give back to her school,” her father said. “It was fun for us.”
The crew team was central to Lydia’s college experience, Fritz said. “It was a very challenging experience for her, both physically and in time.”
She worked hard when she joined the women’s crew team at Bates, but she never had a shot at being an elite crew athlete. It was just a physical reality that at 5’5” she was not tall enough to have the leverage afforded taller rowers.
She instead became the coxswain for the No. 2 men’s team – essentially an assistant coach who gives instructions during the race and assures the race strategy is implemented. At season’s end, she was awarded the Jon W. Brayshaw Award, given to the member who transforms love for the sport into dedication and devotion to the team.
“Not that she was ever the best rower on the team. She was as dedicated and hardworking as anyone ever could be,” Fritz said.
While its enthusiastic namesake was not a star rower, the boat has been quite a performer. It completed the spring season without losing a single race.