Rollin Harrison "Stork" Sanford

Cornell's Crew Coach 1936-1970

Rollin Harrison "Stork" Sanford was a graduate of the University of Washington and rowed on their crew from 1923-1926.  He, Tom Bolles, and Norman Sonju were all members of the 1926 varsity crew.  After graduating, he went into business though he continued to row as a member of the Washington Athletic Club.

He was contacted in 1936 by Tom Bolles about the position of head coach at Cornell University.  Bolles had offers from both Cornell and Harvard, but elected to take the Harvard position and told Sanford he should take the opening at Cornell.  Sanford was hired as a result of the strong recommendation that Bolles supplied to Cornell despite Sanford's lack of experience as a coach.  In an effort to pay his good luck forward, Sanford in turn reached out to Norman Sonju and convinced him to take the assistant coach position at Cornell.

Cornell's crews improved greatly under Sanford's direction, but while highly successful on the water, they could not capture the varsity 8 title on the Hudson.  The closest they came was in 1947, finishing second to Navy.  Once the Regatta left Poughkeepsie, Cornell's crews won the IRA a total of six times, winning it 4 years in a row from 1955-1958 and 2 years in a row, 1962-1963.  They also won the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges regatta 4 times under Sanford.

Despite his lack of experience, Sanford trained excellent crews that were capable of winning.  Sanford continued as head coach at Cornell until his retirement in 1970.

He passed away on December 4, 1999 at the age of 96.

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