Site Map Roster



History of Gonzaga Crew
by Becky Killion

Photo by Tom Killion
In the Spring of 1995, the first Gonzaga Crew put two “pre-owned” eight-man shells on the Anacostia River and raced in four events.   Setting a standard for future Eagle crews, the Freshman 8 and 3rd 8 finished first and the Novice 8 and 4th 8 placed third.   With this impressive start, Gonzaga was initiated into the sport of rowing and became one of only nine Jesuit high schools in the country to establish a rowing program.   The foundation for this competitive team was laid in early 1994 when a group of interested students lead by Junior Matt Weeden approached Kevin Harris – Gonzaga history teacher, rower and local crew coach for help in establishing a rowing program at Gonzaga.
The Weeden family had recently moved to Arlington, VA from Philadelphia, PA where Matt had attended St. Joseph’s Preparatory School.   Although Matt had not rowed for the prestigious Prep crew program, he was an experienced sculler.   Matt’s exposure to the sport at Prep and the success of his sister, Kate Weeden, on the Yorktown Crew (coached by Kevin Harris) motivated him to pursue a crew program at Gonzaga.   This lucky confluence of motivated students, an experienced and enthusiastic teacher/mentor, and an explosion of interest in high school rowing in the Washington Metropolitan area resulted in Gonzaga Crew.

Crew at Gonzaga owes its great start to the guidance and sheer hard work of Kevin Harris and the commitment and dedication of its charter rowers and parents.   During the twelve months preceding that first regatta on the Anacostia, Kevin Harris submitted a rowing program proposal to the school administration, borrowed training and rowing equipment and persuaded Derek Parsons and George Kirschbaum to conduct a two-week introductory rowing course during the summer for the fledging crew.   Unsuspecting parents, attending a backyard luncheon to hear a presentation by Kevin Harris about crew, formed the first board of Gonzaga Crew Boosters that afternoon and enthusiastically embarked on the organizational and fundraising groundwork that made Gonzaga Crew a reality in 1995.
Successful fundraising efforts resulted in the acquisition of two used racing shells: the Exorcist and the George Preston Marshall.  Mr. Kirschbaum was hired as Head Coach and Eric Edmonds became Assistant Coach.  By the Spring 1995 Regatta season, Gonzaga Crew consisted of 47 competitive novice rowers and Gonzaga added a new team to its tradition of excellence and achievement in sports.
Photo by Tom Killion
1995    Founded by Kevin Harris
             Coaches;: George Kirschbaum (Head Coach)
             Eric; Edmonds (Assistant Coach)
Gonzaga Crew begins competition as a novice rowing program out of Thompson Boat Center (TBC) on the Potomac River.  Senior Matthew Weeden is named Washington Post All-Met Honorable Mention.

1996    Coaches: George Kirschbaum (Head Coach)
             Tessa; Spillane (Assistant Coach)
Crew acquires another 8 – the “Joe Kozik.”  Gonzaga extends its winning tradition to the water.  The Varsity Lightweight 8 places third in the Northern Virginia Championships, fourth at the prestigious Stotesbury Cup Regatta (“Stotesbury”) in Philadelphia and fifth at the Scholastic Rowing Association National Championship (the “Nationals”).

1997    Coaches: George Kirschbaum (Head Coach)
             Eric; Edmonds (Assistant Coaches)
Now accorded veteran status, Gonzaga Crew competes against well-established, experienced rowing programs.  Another 8 is added to the fleet – the “Adamas.”  Indicating just how far the rowing program has come by its third season, Crew now owns three 8s, four sets of oars, two launches, Cox-Boxes, ergometers and assorted other training equipment necessary to support the developing program.  A sure sign of its veteran status, Crew receives a designated work-out room at school.  Junior Mike Bonnit is an All-Met Honorable Mention.

1998    Coaches: George Kirschbaum (Head Coach)
             Eric; Edmonds and Jen Severidt (Assistant Coaches)
Crew acquires another shell, a racing 8 christened the “Die Macht 8.”  The Freshman 8 competes at Stotesbury and the Nationals.  Senior Mike Bonnit is the first Gonzaga oarsman named to the All-Met first team.  Charlie Gans and Sean Holman are All-Met Honorable Mentions.

1999    Coaches: Dave Foley (Head Coach)
             Brendan; O'Malley (Assistant Coach)
The generous gift of Gonzaga alumnus Richard Loftus (’56) funds the purchase of a four-man shell - the “Captain Casten.”  Under the direction of new head coach Dave Foley, Gonzaga Crew sets a new competitive standard.  Crew enters five boats in the National Capital Area Scholastic Rowing Championships (the “NCASRA Championships”).  Four boats compete at Stotesbury and the Nationals.  At the NCASRA Championships, the Varsity 8 finishes third, winning bronze.  The Varsity 4, the 2nd 8 and 3rd 8 each place second, winning silver.  The Freshman 8 makes team history by advancing to the semi-finals at the Nationals.

2000    Coaches: Dave Foley (Head Coach)
             Dan; "Killer" Kilpatrick, Eric Leeder and Jen Severidt (Assistant Coaches)
Crew builds on its impressive 1999 season.  At the NCASRA Championships, the Lightweight 4, Freshman 8, 3rd 8 and 4th 8 each capture first.  The Varsity 8 and 2nd 8 finish second.  The Freshman 8 continues its tradition of post-season success, placing fifth at Stotesbury.

2001    Coaches: Dave Foley (Head Coach)
             Eric; Leeder and Casey Lingan (Gonzaga '96) (Assistant Coaches)

Photo by Tom Killion
A new 8, the “Doctor C,” is added to the fleet.  During the regular season, most Gonzaga boats place first, second or third.  This competitive surge continues in the post-season as the Lightweight 4, Varsity 8 and 2nd 8 all advance to the semi-finals at Stotesbury.  The hopes of the Freshman 8 to continue its strong showing at Stotesbury are dashed when a pre-race collision at the starting line prevents the boat from competing.  At the Nationals, all Gonzaga boats advance to the semi-finals.  Junior Marty Gehrke is an All-Met Honorable Mention.

2002    Coaches: Dave Foley (Head Coach)
             Melissa; Conradi (Assistant Coach)
             Pat; McCloskey (Freshman Coach)

Photo by Becky Killion
Gonzaga Crew enjoys a sensational season.  A new Vespoli M2 joins the fleet.  The new 8 is christened the “Joe Curseen, Jr. ‘72” in honor of a Gonzaga alumnus who died of inhalation anthrax contracted from letters addressed to the Senate Office building after the September 11 attacks.  The Freshman 8 finishes first in the Anacostia Classic – the area championship for lower boats.  At the NCASRA Championships, the Varsity 8 places third.  The 2nd 8 finishes first.  The Lightweight 4 finishes second to capture the silver medal.
The powerful 2nd 8 makes team history, recording an undefeated season and winning the bronze medal at Stotesbury.  At the Nationals, the 2nd 8 caps its remarkable season by finishing fourth.  In recognition of the tremendous growth of the Gonzaga rowing program, The Washington Post awards Dave Foley “Coach of the Year” and names the 2nd 8 “Best Boat.”  Senior Marty Gehrke is the second Gonzaga oarsman to be named to the All-Met first team.
Photo by Tom Killion

2003    Coaches: Dave Foley (Head Coach)
             Tom; Spooner (Coach)
             Denise; Kersten (Freshman Coach)
             Keith; Roussil (Gonzaga ’97) (Assistant Coach)
In another outstanding season, Gonzaga Crew records seventeen (17) first place finishes in the regular season and wins the 2003 NCASRA Mens’ Team Trophy.  The Varsity 8 places first at the Charlie Butt Regatta, the Mayor’s Challenge and the Darrell Winslow Regatta.  A new Vespoli M2 (temporarily named “The Sully” by the crew to honor their manager, Ryan Sullivan) arrives in time to be raced at Stotesbury, where the Varsity 8 makes team history by advancing to the finals.

The 2nd 8 delivers another amazing performance – an undefeated season, National Capitol Champions, NCASRA Champions and the silver medal at Stotesbury.  At the Nationals, in a heart-stopping battle for silver, Prep, Chaminade and Gonzaga all cross the finish line within seven-tenths of a second.  Upon videotape review, judges place the 2nd 8 fourth.  The Washington Post again names the 2nd 8 “Best Boat.”

Significant changes mark the 2003 season.  Anticipating the construction of the Swedish Embassy on the compound where the high school shells are kept, Crew Boosters begin efforts to move Gonzaga Crew out of TBC.  Gonzaga Crew becomes an Associate Member of the Anacostia Community Boathouse Association (ACBA) and relocates to its new boathouse on the Anacostia.  Months later, TBC announces that the high school compound will be permanently closed in February 2004.  After five impressive years of growth and accomplishment, Dave Foley leaves Gonzaga Crew to pursue an MBA at the University of Michigan.  Tom Spooner succeeds as head coach.  Senior Eric Gehrke is the third Gonzaga oarsman to be named to the All-Met first team.  Paul Hamm and Neal Sonnenberg are All-Met Honorable Mentions.

Home | Regattas | Coaches | Roster | Alumni | Photos | Boosters | Links | Gonzaga

Gonzaga College High School Crew
19 Eye Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © 2000-2004 Gonzaga Crew. All rights reserved.
custom essay on