Mel Parks Spotlight

Melanie Parks-Linford was a member of the crew from 2001-2005. “I got a great education at Purdue, but my time there was really defined by my experience with the Crew. The day my crew-mates (The Amazons) and I won the NW8+ Sara Vaughn Trophy at Dad Vails was one of the best days of my life so far. I will never, ever forget the feeling of standing on the awards dock, receiving my medal from Larry Tolle.” Melanie served as Secretary of the club from 2003-2005 and still remembers some of the rowers’ unisuit and trou sizes from having to order them!


After graduation, Melanie pursued a career in construction management. So many lessons from the Wabash applied to construction: getting up at 5am CAN be alright, being cold and wet is only temporary, and that one’s best effort should be one’s “normal” effort.


Fate, and Melanie’s husband Patrick, took her to Cambridge, MA, in 2015; the Charles River beckoned with masters rowing. She rowed with the MIT Rowing Club and had the opportunity to compete in South Korea in 2017. Because she is a military spouse, Melanie rowed with the Community Rowing MilVets Crew on the Charles and learned to scull. They also gave her the opportunity to compete in the Head of the Charles, which she dreamed about as a Purdue rower.


The Army moved Melanie’s family to West Point, NY, in 2017, where she became an assistant crew coach at the United States Military Academy and solitary sculler on the Hudson River. “I had so much to learn in my first year as a coach, but rowing for Purdue prepared me tremendously for that role, because, to my recollection, loose ends just didn’t really exist there. Every single day coaching brings back so many memories. I have a new respect not only for the people that coached me at Purdue Crew, but also for my crew-mates.” Things really came full-circle when Melanie had the privilege of watching her Army NW8+ win the Sara Vaughn Trophy at Dad Vails in 2018. “That bronzed boat seat means so much to me, both as a rower and a coach.”


Melanie is soon moving to Detroit to hopefully scull on the Detroit River! She would like to apologize to any of her former coaches reading this for her rowing technique between the years of 2001-2005, and sends all of her love to her Purdue crew-mates and best friends, The Amazons. “Purdue Crew and the sport in general has been such a huge part of my life. I look forward to many more years of rowing. My current goal is to take 5 strokes on the square in a scull!” She serves as the Historian of the Purdue Rowing Association and loves to meet and reconnect with fellow alumni of the club.