ORA History

Edgewater Crew's Trophy Case

Edgewater Crew began in the Fall in 1963, when Edgewater High School social science teacher Dennis Kamrad recruited 8 rowers, a coxswain, and a manager to man a rented boat and learn the sport he had excelled in as a student at Rollins College. With no other high school crew teams in the state, the team competed against (and defeated) college freshman boats and then went to the National championships out of state where they made the Grand Finals in their 2nd and 3rd years.

By the end of the 1960s, 3 more Florida high school teams had sprouted up, Edgewater had built its first boathouse on the VFW property at Lake Fairview and won 3 of the first 4 State Championships. Edgewater parents formed a non-profit corporation to support the team and bought boats and equipment. Coach Kamrad left after the 1969 season to coach college teams, but Edgewater Crew was here to stay.

Most of he 1970s were under the watch of two Kamrad disciples - Tom Lineberry '69 and Martyn Dennis '70 - who continued winning traditions as more teams came on board and 1976 saw the addition of a Girls team to the house.

The coaching baton would be passed to a 3rd generation of rowers: David Kuehn '76, Steve Dezwart '77 and David Neal '81 led the Eagles on a string of dominance at the State level through the 1980s and medals at Scholastic Nationals for both the boys and girls. A Mens Lightweight 4 closed out the decade with Edgewater's first Gold Medal at the Stotesbury Cup.

The 1990's saw the largest spike in growth both in the number of rowing teams and their size. A number of school teams opened their membership to students from other schools and became larger club teams which ramped up the competition. Edgewater still claimed 1 team title and 17 boat titles at States with Steve DeZwart returning after a break and former rowers Jeff Clark '85, Bob Van Twyver '81, and Sean Gustafson '88 training a new generation of rowers for championships to close out the 20th Century.

As the century turned an aging boathouse and limited room at the VFW property pressed the need for a new home. The Orlando Rowing Club had built a new boathouse at the City of Orlando's Lake Fairview Park and Edgewater parents began work on getting a similar arrangement with the City. A large Field of Dreams grant from Orange County provided the bulk of the funding and a bank loan secured by several members and alumni did the rest. Despite the 3 hurricanes that hit Orlando in 2004, construction went on and the new boathouse was dedicated in March 2005 with rack space to hold 16 shells and a 2nd floor space to be completed at a later date.

We completed our first 50 years faced with new and difficult challenges. The reduced student body size at Edgewater High School and the addition of several new school sports teams have made recruiting tougher, but by 2005 we had a fully functioning website to promote the team and communicate to our members. In 2008 the Saturday morning Junior Eagles Middle School program was initiated and met with immediate success in introducing students and parents to rowing before they came to high school.

A year later the Edgewater Masters program was formalized for adults to expand our exposure in the community and keep alumni and parents connected to the program after graduations. A Masters Mens boat won a Gold Medal at Masters Nationals in 2013 and the team won the State Sweep title in 2015, 2018 and 2019. The 50th Season Celebration in 2012-13 started a fund raising drive to complete the 2nd floor of the boathouse. Now rowers can erg on the 2nd floor while others can lift weights on the ground floor.

During this time we have continued to win at least 1 state boat title in 14 out of the last 18 years, sent multiple boats to Nationals or Stotesbury and continued Edgewater Crew's reputation for academic excellence with more than 80% of our graduates in National Honor Society and 3 Validictorians in the past 12 years. With a rededicated boathouse in Coach Kamrad's honor, we are energized to add another 50 years to a great tradition.

ORA Programs

Edgewater Crew is a competitive rowing program open to all current students at Edgewater High School who are eligible to participate in high school athletics. We compete with approximately 45 other school and multi-school club teams in Florida and occasionally take out-of-state trips a year to compete on a regional or national level.

Practice begins at the start of the school year and runs through April.

Junior Eagles is a recreational program designed to introduce rowing to boys and girls attending any area middle school, regardless of where they plan to attend high school. Sessions are held on Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons through most of the year. All Junior Eagles programs emphasize an informal and fun atmosphere. When possible, each session is capped by a short exhibition race with other middle school programs for rowers ready to participate in a race.

Edgewater Masters has been established for adults to participate in recreational and competitive rowing. Edgewater Crew alumni/ae, parents and other interested individuals comprising all ages and levels of rowing experience are welcome to take part as their personal schedules allow. The year is broken up into 10-week sessions, each of which has a regatta for entering races.