The University of Rochester Crew began with three men, Gary Stockman ('83), Rob Kallman ('83), and Gary Bradhering ('83) in the summer of 1981. Bradhering had enjoyed rowing in high school and wanted to bring rowing to his college career as well. He and Kallman contacted numerous University officials during the summer, and in the fall joined forces with Stockman to make it happen.
Initial difficulties lay largely with funding, as starting a crew program can be expensive. A shell can cost over $10,000, and even a single oar is around $200. Offsetting these costs required a lot of fundraising. An early boost to the program came in the form of a grant from the Davenport-Hatch Foundation, a private foundation that supports organizations in and around Rochester. This grant allowed the fledgling team to take the first steps of hiring a coach and purchasing an eight.
But money was not the only challenge to be overcome. Few of those interested had any experience with the sport, but the community of Rochester and the University rose to the occasion. Many people had rowed in high school or college and were glad to share their expertise, both with regards to the sport itself and the financial aspects.
George M. Angle, serving the University at the time as Vice President of Public Affairs, was (and is) an avid rower. He was one of the earliest supporters of the UR program, and in 2011 was inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame for his role in the creation of the team in the 1980s and his support which continues even today.
But George was not the only community member to assist the team in its early years. Richard U. and Elaine P. Wilson were great supporters for many years of the University of Rochester crew and the entire rowing community in Rochester. One of the two boat houses along the Genesee River in Rochester is named the Elaine P. Wilson boathouse in memory of Mrs. Wilson. Allen Rosenburg, an attorney for the city of Rochester, was the Olympic Rowing Coach in 1964 and a highly successful rower himself, and was inducted into the Rowing Hall of Fame in 1984. Mr. Rosenburg's early assistance and generosity were another enormous boon to the still-young team.
The first coach of the program was Tom Welch was, a former coach and oarsman for the New Haven Boat Club in Connecticut and an undergraduate rower for Marietta College in Ohio. Coach Welch helped quickly move the program to a competitive level, bringing a crew to the grand finals at Dad Vails and winning races in the Metropolitan Cup regatta at New Rochelle. He never lost his joy for rowing, and sought to impart that to his athletes. When asked about why people row, he responded simply, "It's fun! When you really get it going right, it's such a gas!"
Since the early 80's the team has continued to grow in size, support, and competitiveness. Most recently, with the instrumental help of George Angle, the Women's team was made into a Varsity sport and the Men's team was incorporated into the Athletic Department.
The team now rows out of the Genesee Rowing Club Boathouse, located roughly a mile from the River Campus at the intersection of the Genesee River and the Erie Canal. U of R owns and races a fleet of top quality eights, fours, pairs, doubles, and singles, as well as a dedicated ergometer room in the Athletic Center used during winter training. Men's and women's crews compete in major Fall regattas such as the Head of the Charles, Head of the Schulykill, and the Head of the Potomac, and Spring championships like the Knecht Cup, New York State Championship Regatta, Dad Vails, and the American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA) Championship Regatta.
Recent notable successes include back-to-back gold medals for the Men's L4+ at New York States in 2012 and 2013, the Men's V8+ finishing above all other club teams at New York States in 2013, a Dad Vail silver medal for the Men's Pair in 2013, and silver medals for both the Men's Pair and Double Sculls at the 2013 ACRA National Championship.