EDGEWATER CREW began in the Fall in 1963, when Edgewater High School teacher Dennis Kamrad recruited 8 rowers, a coxswain, and a manager to learn the sport he had excelled in at Rollins College. With no other high school crew teams in the state, the team rented a boat and competed against college freshman boats and then went to the National championships where they made the Grand Finals in their 2nd and 3rd years.
By the end of the 1960s, 3 more high school teams had sprouted up in Florida. Edgewater had built its first boathouse on the VFW property at Lake Fairview and won 3 of the first 4 State Championships. Rower parents formed a non-profit corporation to support the team and bought boats and equipment. Coach Kamrad left after the 1969 season to coach at the collegiate level, but Edgewater Crew was here to stay.
Most of the 1970s were under the watch of two Kamrad disciples – Tom Lineberry ’69 and Martyn Dennis ’70 – who continued winning traditions as more teams emerged and 1976 saw the addition of a Girls team.
The coaching baton would be passed to a 3rd generation of alumni 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 won medals at Scholastic Nationals. 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 large 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 rafter space for later construction.
We approached our 50 year milestone with new and difficult challenges. The reduced student body size at EHS and the addition of several new school sports teams made recruiting tougher, but by 2005 we had a website to promote the team and in 2008 the Junior Eagles Middle School program was initiated to promote the sport to students and parents before they came to high school. In 2009 the Edgewater Masters program was formed to expand our exposure in the community and keep alumni connected to the program. 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 which would be renamed in Coach Kamrad’s honor. With that project completed in 2015, the team can now do cardio workouts en masse 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 13 years. We now approach our 60th season energized to add another 60 years to a great tradition.