Coaches - Allen W. “Skip” Walz
One of the most colorful of Wisconsin's crew coaches, Walz was born and raised in New York City, where in 1939, he became, according to an NBC sports press release, “a pioneer of pioneers” when he acted as the commentator for the first pro football game ever televised. It was the Brooklyn Football Dodgers in a 23-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn .
A one-semester freshman at Wisconsin, Walz transferred to NYU and later became a co-captain of their football team, a New York Golden Gloves boxing champ, speech teacher at Manhattan College, radio announcer and a Dale Carnegie lecturer. For seven years, he was the head crew coach at Manhattan College and, along with Ned Ten Eyck at Rutgers , participated in the first “Dad” Vail trophy regatta in 1934.
In his first year as Wisconsin's head coach in 1940-41, Walz took the Badgers to Poughkeepsie and, demonstrating his flair for publicity, invited not only New York Times crew sportswriter Allison Danzig into one of his four-plus-coxswain shells during practice, but also invited his friend, heavyweight boxer Lou Nova, to train with the team while at Poughkeepsie. (Nova later lost to Joe Lewis at the Polo Grounds on September 24, 1941).
In the fall of 1942, Walz took a leave of absence from UW and joined the Navy as a PT boat skipper in WWII. The IRA's were cancelled from 1942-46 because of the conflict.
Following his honorable discharge from the military (with a bronze star for his service in Normandy) and return to UW for the start of the 1945-46 season, Walz benefited from the similar return of several older, mature men from the service who had rowed for Walz before the war. Taking the first flight ever to an athletic contest, Wisconsin's rowers flew to Annapolis in “The Flying White House,” a converted Douglas aircraft, it is believed, that Roosevelt took to the Big Four Conference in Casablanca.
With a victory in the first of what was to become the Eastern Sprints regatta in 1946, Wisconsin 's varsity eight won its first national regatta title ever, catching up with the freshmen, who'd won their first Poughkeepsie title in 1900. Walz moved to Yale as head coach in the fall of 1946, but often returned to Madison for banquets and other events.
As a Vice President of Public Relations at Canada Dry, Walz was later approached by the Columbia University crew coach to sponsor their participation in a summer regatta at St. Catherine's in Canada . Columbia proposed to row from their boathouse on the Harlem River in New York City , up the Hudson River , through the Erie Canal to Canada in order to compete, if Canada Dry would sponsor them. Walz responded, “That's the craziest idea I've ever heard! I'll do it.” The journey was interrupted a few miles up the Hudson when insurance arrangements fell through.