By Meleah Maynard
As a first year student at the University of Minnesota, 6-foot-7-inch Mike Wherley (B.A. ’95) was thinking about trying out for the basketball team when he happened to see a flyer about Minnesota’s rowing club. He checked it out, and it turns out he was pretty good at it.
How good? In May, the 42-year-old was inducted into the National Rowing Foundation’s Hall of Fame. He was tapped for rowing’s highest honor for his individual accomplishments, which are numerous: In addition to competing in two Olympics as a member of the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team, he also won three consecutive world championships in the U.S. Rowing Team’s eight-man boat in 1997, 1998, and 1999. And at age 36, while he was studying economics at Oxford University’s Oriel College, he won the 2008 Boat Race on the Thames River as the oldest rower ever to compete.
Wherley, who graduated from the U with degrees in history and journalism, is currently the president of the Pennsylvania Athletic Club Rowing Association in Philadelphia, where he lives with his wife, Janet Distel.
When Anne Barry (M.P.H. ’86) was inducted into the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame, she became the first woman ever to receive the honor. She joined her first rugby team, the Twin Cities Amazons, in 1983, and played for the Minnesota Select and Midwest Select teams before retiring in 2001.
A passionate advocate for the sport, Barry has served in a number of roles, including president of the Minnesota Youth Rugby Board and treasurer and president of USA Rugby. She was president of the Minnesota Rugby Union for 22 years and remains a member of the board. Currently, she is the general manager of the Twin Cities Amazons and a member of the governing council for the Women’s Premier League.
Off the field, Barry is known as a dedicated public servant and policy expert. Currently deputy commissioner in the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), Barry’s long career includes high-level appointments by four different governors, along with years of service as the chief compliance officer for DHS and deputy commissioner in the Minnesota Department of Finance. An adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, she holds a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law.