THE LAUNCH OF A ROWING TEAM
THE LAUNCH OF A VIRGINIA BEACH ROWING TEAM
The History of Princess Anne Crew Club
In the fall of 2006, the Princess Anne High School Crew Club was started by Cass and Tessa Adair. They were assisted by the First Colonial High School Crew Club which donated two collegiate four-man shells and eight oars all in need of repair and refurbishment. The fall of 2006 was spent repairing the boats and painting the oar blades in the Adair’s back yard. Water practice for the PA Crew began in the spring of 2007 as joint practices with the First Colonial Crew Club. Coach Carol Downing started with the team by helping to repair the boats and paint the oars. She has served as both head coach and assistant coach and continues to help coach today. During the 2007-2008 season, the First Colonial Crew Club moved their practice site to a new location which was closer to their school. This change meant that the Princess Anne Crew Club no longer had a place to practice on the water and water practice was suspended.
Larry Weinstein, father of one of the crew members, was determined to restart the crew club. Larry canvassed the neighborhood to find an individual who had water access from their property and was willing to let the club use that access. Alice Caffee, a resident in the neighborhood and recent widow, made the extraordinary decision to allow a group of total strangers, mostly teenagers, to have daily access to the water, via her property. Larry spent the winter and spring of 2008 designing and getting permits for the launch platform, ramp and a floating dock. Despite the lack of time in the boats and on the water, the rowers and parents remained enthusiastic. They used the time to build boat racks, the dock platform, ramp and a floating dock. Everything was finished in late summer of 2008 so the team could resume water practice that fall.
Ron Young, who had been a coach at the First Colonial Crew Club, transitioned to the Princess Anne Crew Club and became the head coach. While the dock platform, ramp, floating dock, and boat racks were being built, Coach Ron procured several used, working shells and oars from the Virginia Beach Rowing Club. A used boat trailer was also obtained.
Princess Anne Crew Club was back on the water practicing, had a location to launch and recover boats and had coaches Ron and Carol. The first regatta in which the team participated was the Head of the Lafayette in the Fall of 2008. It was the culmination of a year of hard work to make the Princess Anne Crew Club a reality.
In the middle of 2009, the team’s host, Alice Caffee passed away. The new owners of the property allowed the team continued access to the water through the Fall of 2009. By the end of that rowing season a new location for practice had been found. Charlotte and Bill Carson offered to host the team at their private residence and provide access to the water. The team relocated from the former Caffee property to Charlotte and Bill’s property. Rowing continued. Along the way Lance Zellers, a grandfather of one of the rowers, joined the group. Coaches Ron and Carol focused on training the team and Lance focused on boat repair and maintenance. Even after Lance’s granddaughter was no longer on the team, he continued to support the team by performing boat repair and maintenance.
Over the years, rowers came and went and the crew team continued forward. Select used equipment was obtained as money was available. Races at regattas were won and lost. Rowers had fun, made friends and created memories.
During 2018 Princess Anne Crew again faced major challenges. After the 2017 fall practice season Coach Ron retired as head coach. Coach Carol took over for the spring 2018 season. Once again it was necessary to find a different location for water access and practice, because the team would no longer be able to use the Carson’s property. Through a local newspaper, the team appealed to the public in an effort to find a new host property. Their efforts paid off. After seeing the article in the paper, and although she didn’t know anything about rowing, Mrs. Jamille Alimard offered the team the use of her back yard for access to the water. Princess Anne Crew had found a new home. Over the summer the rowers, Coach Carol and parents moved boats, rack, docks and other equipment to the new location. At the end of the summer, Lance moved to another state.
The retirement of Coach Ron left a major void in the volunteer coaching staff. The 2018 school year began with PA crew only able to practice four days a week. Coach Jon joined the team in November as a fulltime volunteer coach. Boat repair and maintenance became the responsibility of Coach Jon with the help of parental volunteers. In January 2019 Coach Jon transitioned to the head coach position and Coach Carol resumed her role as assistant coach. To read about individuals that have contributed their time and energy to the team over the years, please view "Our Contributors".