In the fall of 1992 the idea of starting a new youth rowing program began to be discussed with Ohio Athletic Club (OAC) leadership and by the summer of 1993, founders Gary Summers and John Wilson were coaching a small group consisting of 5 youth athletes from OAC who attended Westerville North. In the fall of 1993 Westerville Rowing Club (WRC) formed as a separate club while still relying heavily on support and partnership with the OAC. WRC was allowed to launch out of the OAC facilities at the confluence of the Scioto and Olentangy rivers at the River Club restaurant in downtown Columbus during its infancy. During this time WRC competed in its first regatta, the Head of the Muskingham.
In the Spring of 1994, the coaches gained sponsorship and permission to start a club sport within Westerville North and Westerville South high schools, which would row as one combined club. During this same spring season, Trish (Van Huffel) Chase (a member of the OAC at the time and a parent of Beth Martinez who was coxing for WRC) joined the Club as an Assistant Coach and as the President of a newly formed board.
Fall of 1994 saw the team win its first team medal at the Waterworks Regatta in Parkersburg, West Virginia when the Men’s Novice 8+ took second place. Although a fall regatta, the race was actually only 1500 meters downstream with a floating start (which is more typical of today’s spring races).
By the fall of 1995 and with the Club’s continued growth, Matt Chase began to help and joined as an Assistant Coach. Matt had learned to row at OAC and Greater Columbus Rowing Association (GCRA) and had competed in the Master’s (adult rowing) class with his twin brother, Bruce.
Westerville Rowing Club was incorporated with the state of Ohio after the 1995 fall season with the initial directors: Gary Summers, Ray Irvin, Matt Chase, and Robert Matheson. Gary remained the Head Coach of the Westerville Rowing Club; Matt was the Assistant Coach; and Ray was the Chairperson. John Wilson left the Club during this time.
It was determined that Westerville Crew needed a new venue that was closer to the local high schools. While initial discussions had started as early as 1994 with Hoover Yacht Club, and the team had been practicing at Westerville North in the Winters, it wasn’t until 1996 that it secured space at Hoover Yacht Club on Hoover Reservoir where they constructed docks and boat storage racks. By this time, the club had grown to 27 athletes.
By the spring of 1997 membership had grown to over 60 athletes. After that season, Coach Summers left the club to move to the Washington DC area. Matt and Trish remained on and put in years of time and energy to grow the club into a nationally competitive rowing team, with its graduating seniors going on to row at the Ivies, Big Ten, PAC-12, ACC, Southeastern and other conferences, many on scholarship.
Head Coach Matt Chase retired in 2017 after more than 20 years of service to the club after introducing thousands of area youth and adults to the sport of rowing. In keeping with the legacy of excellence Matt left behind, the club continues to produce nationally competitive rowers while teaching the values of teamwork, dedication and sportsmanship.
Westerville Crew stores its racing shells on land leased from the city of Columbus, but the rowers park their cars in the adjacent parking lot of the Jewish Community Center (JCC) Camp on Walnut Street.