The Jablonic Era

Randy Jablonic

Randy Jablonic

Randy Jablonic was born in Waukeegan, Illinois and spent most of his childhood in Owen, Wisconsin.

As a UW student in the late 1950s, “Jabo” was recruited by Norm Sonju and rowed on the National Champion 1959 team.

Following the 1960 season, “Jabo” became the Freshman coach.

He became Sonju’s hand picked successor in 1968, and went on to become the most successful coach of men’s crew at UW.

Listen to an Oral History Clip below.

Men's crew team, cox toss, 1972

Men’s crew team, cox toss, 1972

As earlier coaches such as Mike Murphy struggled with funding for the sport, Jablonic also was faced with the threat of elimination early in his career.

Listen to an Oral History Clip below.

Listen to an Oral History Clip below.

Having weathered the storm, “Jabo” coached the Varsity to consecutive National Championships from 1972 to 1975. Jablonic credits his assistants, in particular Freshman Coach Doug Neil as laying the groundwork for this success.

Listen to an Oral History Clip below.

Neil, Young and Jablonic with trophies in 1972

Neil, Young and Jablonic with trophies in 1972

As crew continued to be a non-scholarship sport, Jablonic developed recruiting techniques which took advantage of the long registration lines of those days.

Listen to an Oral History Clip below.

In the midst of the great success of the men’s crew, women’s crew began at UW.

Listen to an Oral History Clip below.

As Jablonic’s career went on he, like Sonju, sought to involve himself and the athletes in international competition. In particular, “Jabo” was proud to coach several Olympians and coached the US squad at the World Championships from 1981 to 1983. Jablonic was narrowly passed over as the US Olympic coach in 1984.

Listen to an Oral History Clip below.

1973 crew team

1973 crew team (Duane Hoppe)

The chief other contribution to UW rowing that Jablonic made was the founding of the Midwest Rowing Championship annual race, held on Madison every year from 1973 to 2007. Bringing in other schools to race on the Lakes Mendota and Monona helped further solidify crew at UW, and made UW the pacesetter among Midwestern schools involved in the sport.

Listen to an Oral History Clip below.

After the longest tenure of any UW crew coach, Jablonic retired following the 1995 season and was succeeded by one of his assistants, Chris Clark.

Crew Art. 1907 Badger Yearbook, pg 438

Crew Art. 1907 Badger Yearbook, pg 438