Brian Propp held a bottle of water Wednesday morning, standing on the back dock of the Bachelors Barge Club on Boathouse Row.
His daughter Paige asked, "Are you hydrating?"
"I had my coffee," replied the former Flyers star. Propp, 56, had skipped his usual early-morning skate because he was taking part in a little warm-up media event for this weekend's Dad Vail Regatta. Propp was about to compete on an ergometer, an indoor rowing machine, with former Eagles receiver Fred Barnett, former Sixers star World B. Free, and what turned out to be a ringer - Franklin, the Sixers mascot.
Propp's personal coach was his daughter. Paige Propp is a freshman rower at Drexel, a Bishop Eustace Prep graduate. The tie-in for this ran through her, not him. She will be in the 7 seat of the Dragons' varsity eight when it begins competition Friday on the Schuylkill.
Did Drexel coach Paul Savell realize he was recruiting the daughter of a five-time NHL all-star, a Flyers Hall of Famer who had played in five Stanley Cup Finals?
"I'm a big Philly sports fan - I grew up here, so I knew," Savell said on the dock where they had placed the ergometers. "But on her own, standing on her own, she's an outstanding athlete. We were recruiting her because of her performance as a high school athlete. I don't think it hurt that she comes from an athletic family. She has that mind-set already of taking it to the next level. Already, she's in our top boat as a freshman. It's a very mature mind-set."
"I probably didn't know anything about rowing when she started at Bishop Eustace," Brian Propp said. "But I learned fairly quickly. Their freshman boat did well right off the bat. That kind of got us into it a little bit more."
"We played hockey growing up and I loved that just as much as I love rowing," Paige Propp said. "But branching off is also a good thing to see what else is out there."
Dad's official NHL height was 5-foot-9. His daughter has him by an inch. She gets that extra inch from mom, who was also at Bachelors watching.
"They're the athletes in the family," said Kris Propp. "The height might be coming from me - the athletic part, all from him."
And the drive required of a rower?
"That didn't come from me, either - directly from him," Kris Propp said.
Savell put Paige in his varsity eight right away last fall.
"There are some things that do cross over from one sport to another - calmness under pressure, just being able to handle that maturity level," the coach said. "She's got that."
When he's back along the river as a fan this weekend, will Brian Propp, who now works in commercial real estate, get nervous watching a race? He shook his head.
"You're there for support," Propp said. "Different races have different quality rowers coming in. They're working hard."
Propp took part in the competition on the ergometer, the training machine rowers use to simulate what they're doing on the water, as they build lactic acid and eventually lose the ability to clear it, which is where the pain comes in.
The older guys weren't going to hit that point. Their exhibition on the machine would be at 200 meters, far short of the 2,000 meters that Drexel and the rest will row on the river.
"I'd rather run 200 meters," said Barnett, now 48 years old, a still lean 6-footer. His own daughter is a freshman rower at the Baldwin School, so Barnett was the right competitor to represent the Eagles. And receivers probably offer the right frame. Any rowing coach would take a team full of wideouts. Leg muscles are the key muscle in their sport, too.
After a quick tutorial from some Drexel rowers, both began pulling impressively.
"That is it!" Paige said of her father's quick pulling. "That's it!"
It turned out, Barnett, not pulling quite as fast but extremely hard, got to the finish line - to the equivalent of those 200 meters - apparently a split-second ahead of Propp. Franklin, age unknown, already had taken out the elder statesman of the group, the 61-year-old Free. After a couple of minutes break, it was Barnett vs. Franklin.
In full furry gear, the mascot pulled off the upset, taking top honors.
"I think there's a machine under there," Propp said.
Propp's only mistake, his daughter pointed out, probably was performing barefoot after showing up in flip-flops.
"You had the form down," said Savell, the Drexel coach. "You were looking good."
Propp was thinking it was at least a tie. His wife overheard that.
"Is he contesting the results?" Kris Propp called over. "That's really him."
Propp was just happy he didn't have to square off against the mascot for another 200 meters.
"It's probably a 20-year-old workout freak," he said.