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ESD Crew Members of the ESD crew team practice at Bachman Lake under head coach, and ESD alum, Cait Pennington.

In the spring of 1983, Steve Black, a member of ESD’s fourth graduating class, became the first graduate from the Episcopal School of Dallas to continue playing a sport at the collegiate level. That fall, he joined the crew team at Rollins University in Winter Park, Florida. Since then, 14 more ESD grads have continued rowing at the collegiate level at the U.S. Naval Academy, Brown, Georgetown, Trinity College, and Vassar, among others.

Today, the crew team can be seen practicing on Bachman Lake under the watchful eye of ESD alum, Cait Pennington `07, and several NCAA Division I scouts. According to Pennington, four of her athletes are being actively recruited to compete at the collegiate level, and since January, three programs have sent scouts to watch the team practice, including Princeton.

“Rowing has a tremendous amount of scholarship opportunities,” Pennington explained. “If a stellar rower really puts their talents on display and makes an effort to contact coaches and scouts, it is very likely they will receive some form of scholarship.”

Pennington, who rowed for ESD herself, attended Temple University on an athletic scholarship.

“When I rowed at ESD, the head coach taught me four founding tenets that I still use in my coaching today,” Pennington explained. “Each element focuses on overall and individual success, the importance of teamwork, safety, and hard work and dedication.”

The varsity roster, though small, boasts several U.S. Junior Rowing National Team hopefuls. In March, two males and two females from the team will attend a camp to try and qualify for the Junior National Team. In addition to their collegiate aspirations, the student-athletes are also on track to set personal best records this season on the ergometers. In fact, nearly 95 percent of the team has already crushed their 2,000 meter ergometer results from last season.

The team’s discipline also pays off on the water. This past fall, the varsity group brought home ten gold, six silver, and five bronze medals from the Head of the Colorado Regatta in Austin in October. The Men’s Jr. 4x team, made up of Jakesy Jordaan `14, Michael McCrory `14, Liam Herrick `15, and Carter Boisfontaine `14, finished in first place. The Men’s Jr. 2x also clocked a first-place time. For the women, the Jr. 4x boat of Emma Jenevein `15, Elizabeth Patrick `14, Amanda Eggers `13, and Caroline Brennan `14 finished in second. So far this season, the team has captured five gold, two silver, and two bronze medals at two regattas. Earlier this month, Emma Jenevein `15 beat more than 30 girls at the 2013 Southwest Ergometer Amateur Tournament to win gold in the women’s Junior Lightweight event.

Aside from winning, Pennington said her ultimate goal is to teach the students how to persevere through mentally tough situations, manage their time, prove their dedication, and become more well-rounded members of society. But most importantly, Pennington said she wants her team to feel they belong to a family.

“I want these kids to feel like they have another family here,” Pennington said. “After they graduate, I want them to look back on their experiences with the rowing team and reflect on the lessons they have learned. If they can do this with a smile I their face, I will be satisfied.”

If you haven’t had a chance to come see the crew in action, there are still four more regattas left. Boats that qualify will attend the U.S. Nationals in Oakridge, Tennessee in June.

  • March 1-3: Heart of Texas Regatta (Austin)
  • April 13: Bachman Regatta in Dallas
  • April 26 & 27: Texas Rowing Championships (Austin)
  • May 3-5: Central Regional Championships (Oklahoma City)
  • May 17 & 18: Stotesbury Cup (Philadelphia)
  • June 7 – 9 U.S. Nationals (Oakridge, Tennessee)