Coach - Norman “Norm” Sonju

Biography | Photos | Years as Coach


Born in Hudson , WI , Sonju's family soon moved to Poulsbo , WA . He became a college rower at Washington under coach “Rusty” Callow. Placing 2 nd , 1st and 2nd in successive varsity eight Poughkeepsie Regattas, Sonju was also captain of the Husky crew in his senior year season of 1926-27.

Working successively as an assistant coach at Washington, real estate agent in Seattle , and a gold miner in Anchorage , Alaska , Sonju came back to rowing as an assistant coach at Cornell in the fall of 1936. After ten years working alongside R. Harrison “Stork” Sanford , AD Stuhldreher struck again and hired Sonju to come to Madison .

Sonju became Wisconsin 's second-longest serving crew coach, in Madison over a span of 22 years. During that period, he consolidated the varsity eight's winning tradition at the national level initiated by Allen Walz in 1946. Sonju's varsity eight won three Challenge Cups at the IRA's, as well as garnering one second place finish. His freshmen also brought home a national title in 1964. During Sonju's tenor as coach, there were only three eights races a year at the national collegiate IRA regatta.

As co-manager of the U.S. Olympic crew in Tokyo in 1964, his eight and pair with coxswain entries each won gold medals.

Sonju was also an Associate Professor at UW for most of his career in Madison . Upon his retirement in 1968, the university initiated the Sonju Award, given to the UW rower who had made the most outstanding contribution to the success of the season's crew program.



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Coach Sonju and others making a rowing simulator


Coach Sonju coach for team USA


Years as Coach:

1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968

1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959

1947 1948 1949




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