Launch Driver (Volunteer Spotlight)

JOHN HUMPHREY ~ Gainesville Area Rowing Club

John at work as a Launch Driver Volunteer

John at work as a Launch Driver Volunteer

How did you come to get involved with the Hooch?

My son Whitney and daughter Haley are relatively new to rowing. I was unable to attend in 2013, so 2014 was my first year attending Hooch.  It was with great excitement that I traveled with the Gainesville Area Rowers (GAR) from Florida to the Hooch.  Hooch certainly lived up to the stories and hype of the previous years.

What inspired you to become a Hooch Volunteer?

Not knowing what to expect other than the tales, I looked to see how to best use my time while waiting for our races.  A fellow GAR parent, Scott Powell, had volunteered as a Launch Driver in previous Hooch Regattas.  He suggested that it would be a great opportunity to see the race from a different point of view and meet neat people…so I decided to sign up.  When I got to the volunteer check-in, they appeared to have enough Launch Drivers, but I was insistent on wanting to help (be out on the water!).  I met The Admiral of the Fleet – Bernie Bergener (who is a super friendly guy) – and discussed my interests of assisting on the water any way I could.  He created a position of a roaming safety boat for the area of the course where boats launched and recovered, as well as the finish line.  It was quite the experience to be at the finish line watching the teams battle it out for a medal as well as provide assistance to boats and rowers.  Despite the unusual cold windy weather last year, the experience was one that I thoroughly enjoyed and intend to relive in future Hooch Regattas.

In your opinion, what are the Hooch’s best qualities?

Hooch is a really unique experience.  In my opinion, there are a few things that make it one of the “go to” regattas in the country.  I think the venue is one of the more outstanding aspects of the regatta with it’s easy access to downtown and the incredible views.  Being in a river valley gives Hooch a unique feel over other venues I’ve been to (though most have been in flat Florida!).  The huge number of teams from all over – including collegiate and masters crews – makes this regatta stand out for spectating.  It’s not often that one gets to see high school, college, and masters teams competing in the same regatta.  There’s truly something for everyone to watch and cheer on!  Last, but in no way least, is the incredible volunteer staff that make Hooch possible.  I mentioned Bernie as the friendly Admiral…but quite frankly…all the Hooch staff (from the Volunteer check-in, to the people running the races, etc) make both attending and volunteering for Hooch a blast.  It is something that I would highly recommend to anyone going to Hooch.  If you have a bit of time on your hands – help out and become a part of the successful process that is Hooch!