SAN DIEGO - Brooks Dagman walked about a UCLA hillside quad his freshman year in 1981 and stumbled across a fair. Tables were set up near the student union, clubs and athletic teams casting the recruiting lure.
One of the teams: men’s rowing.
Dagman’s father rowed at Washington. He was curious. He also stood a fraction under 5-feet-11, modest as elite rowers go.
“You’re kind of not what we’re looking for,” someone told Dagman.
But he joined about 100 wanna-be rowers for the first test, four laps around the track. Advantage, Dagman, a distance runner in high school. He dusted all but one or two runners.
“I went from the dog house to the penthouse,” said Dagman, who weighed about 150 pounds at the time. Lightweight boats average 155 pounds per rower, so Dagman was a perfect fit. Little did he know it at the time, but Dagman was about to embark on his career path.
, USD, UCSD and Orange Coast College will drop their boats into Mission Bay to compete in the City Championships. Dagman is USD’s men’s coach, now is his 27th season at the position.
After losing 10 seniors from last year’s program, the expectation was that this would be a rebuilding year. Nineteen of the 31 athletes on the roster are freshmen. But a strange thing happened in the reconstruction process. The freshmen are coming around quickly.
“Many of these freshmen turned out to be tremendous student-athletes,” said Dagman. “Young athletes often times are a very egocentric bunch. Especially in this day and age it’s a bit trickier getting them to buy into the group effort.
“I’ve been deeply impressed with what these young people have been willing to do.”
Captains on this year’s team include seniors Will Graf, Sam Stephens and Jack Orr.
Dagman rowed at UCLA for three years, then coached as his alma mater for six years. In a bit of serendipitous timing, UCLA dropped its club program at the same time USD was looking for a rowing club director.
Dagman interviewed. It was a 12-hour process.
“I left just being thoroughly impressed,” Dagman said. “I had no idea there were people who cared that much about athletes and a rowing program.”
In 2009, Dagman led the Toreros to national prominence. The eights boat placed second in the Cal Cup at the Crew Classic. Later that season at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association, the varsity fours earned a silver medal with the eights taking home a bronze.
The performance earned the team an appearance in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships. The eights went on to finish ahead of Penn at nationals.
“I literally had to walk about and peace out for a few minutes,” said Dagman. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
Asked if he cried, Dagman said “Oh my gosh, yes. You had some human beings that just took it to the top level. They went as far as they possibly could go and left nothing.”
At 54, Dagman has been involved in the sport for more than three decades. As to why the sport has enamored him so, he said, “Rowing, for me, represents one of the ultimate team sports where you have to submit to the group in a way that doesn’t happen a lot of times in the ball sports.
“In rowing, more than anything, you’ve got eight people where everyone has to submit to the team effort. There are no all-stars. It’s primitive in a way. It’s useful to teach not only leadership but what real teamwork is.”
Baseball: Toreros vs. Aztecs
USD take on cross-town rival SDSU
Men's Basketball: Post Season Run
USD vs. Hartford highlights
Women's Basketball: WCC Championship Game
Toreros end the 2018 season against Gonzaga in the WCC finals.
Women's Basketball: WCC Semifinals
Women's win send them to the championship game
Men's Basketball: WCC Quarterfinals
Toreros close out 2018 season against BYU
Men's Basketball: "Off Day"
Toreros prepare for the WCC quarterfinals against BYU
Women's Basketball: WCC Quarterfinal Highlights
USD defeats BYU in quarterfinal of WCC Tournament
Women's Basketball: Day in the Life with Myah Pace
Freshman guard knows how to prep for a win
Women's Basketball: Vegas Bound
Toreros travel to Vegas for the WCC Tournament
Baseball: Defeating No. 4 Arkansas
Toreros edge out top five team
Men's Basketball: Rock the House
Toreros played No. 6 Gonzaga in a fight to the last minute
Men's Basketball: Day in the Life
Guard Olin Carter III knows the games starts long before tip-off
Rowing, tennis, basketball and baseball, a winning day in the books
Baseball: For the Love of the Game
Baseball celebrates 60 years
Women's Basketball: Women in Sports Day
Julie Foudy spoke to student-athletes and guests for National Women in Sports Day
Men's Basketball: At LMU
Men's basketball on the road
Women's Rowing: Day in the Life
Senior Lizzie Bader shows how three-a-day practices are done
Men's Basketball: Youth Basketball Clinic
Toreros lead clinic in local community
Men's Rowing: Winter Camp 2018
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60 Years of USD Baseball
Milestones on the road to Omaha
USD Honors Local Military Members
Toreros showed their support and hosted local military members at the men's basketball game
USD Athletes Sing "Santa's Coming to Town"
Toreros show their talent out of uniform
Basketball: City Championship
Toreros play SDSU Thursday night at 8
Football: Week Fourteen
Football preps for second round of playoffs at NDSU
Football: NAU From the Sidelines
Toreros win in first round of playoffs at NAU
Football: Week Thirteen
Football travels to NAU for the first round of the FCS Playoffs
A day to give to Torero Athletics
Football: Week Twelve
Toreros gear up for last game of conference play
Football: Week Eleven
Toreros prep for game day
Torero Timeout with Summer Mason
USD junior women's soccer player takes a timeout during a study break
On Saturday We Dominate
Big wins for both USD Football and USD Volleyball Saturday afternoon
Torero Timeout with Henry Lander
Men's soccer sophomore Henry Lander takes a Timeout between classes
Football: Week Ten
Toreros gear up for home game against Drake
Men's and women's basketball teamed up to host a Halloween event
Football: Week Nine
Big day in the weight room for the Toreros
Seamus McFadden's Legacy
39 years in review by former players and coaches
Alumni, staff and the San Diego community gathered to celebrate Men's Soccer Head Coach Seamus McFadden
Sixth Man Night: The Event
Recap video of the October 12 fundraiser event
Women's Basketball: WCC Hoops Tip-Off
Coach Fisher and Maya Hood attend media day in Las Vegas
Men's Basketball: New Heights
Men's basketball celebrates the third era of the program
Alumni and family gathered together for an eventful Homecoming weekend
Torero Timeout with Kristen Gengenbacher
Take a Timeout with the senior setter at her house in South Mission Beach
Football: Week Seven
Football preps for this Saturday's Homecoming game
Torero Timeout with Jonathan Petersen
USD Football's Petersen strolls through Belmont Park during his bye week
USD Basketball: Practice No. 1
Check out what practice looks like for the Torero ballers
Football: Week Five
Toreros prep for big game against Dayton
Football: FaceTime with Lion's Jamal Agnew
USD Head Coach Dale Lindsey congratulates Torero alum Agnew on his first NFL touchdown
Football: Brian Fogarty PFL Classic
From tailgates to touchdowns, we got it all
Football: Week Four
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Cross Country: USD Invite
Missed Saturday's race? Don't stress, we have it right here
Football: Week Three
Sights and sounds of USD Football at work
USD Invite: Take a Lap
Men's and women's cross country host the USD Invite: the only home race for the Toreros
Football: Week Two
Football hard at work for their first away game at UC Davis
Three Games - One Day
Ole Weekend was one to remember for USD Athletics
Football: Week One
Toreros preps for their home opener against Western New Mexico
2017 Football Season Preview
Head Coach Dale Lindsey and Senior Ray Clark discuss upcoming season
USD Athletics Highlight Video 2016-17
Don't miss the best highlights from this past year in USD Athletics