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A Brief History of TJ Crew

Last modified on October 2, 2011

Jefferson Crew was started by Cathy Coffman, a math teacher at the school. She had rowed at Washington and Lee High School and the University of Virginia. Her coaching career began at a private high school in New England. In the fall of 1989 she was approached by a student named Anne Carney who was interested in crew, and soon many other students and some parents became involved in the planning. They delivered flyers for Dominoes Pizza almost every Saturday that winter to raise money. This was also the first year of coaching for Ron Lim.

The team got a lot of help that year from coaches Charlie Butt and Tom Chisnell at W&L and Steve Weir at TC Williams. Four used eights were purchased and two were borrowed from JEB Stuart and George Mason University. There were more than one hundred students on the team in the spring and both varsity eights made the finals at Northern Virginia Championships (NOVAs) in the first year, with the girls capturing the bronze medal.

In 1991 the varsity girls captured the team's first medal at the Scholastic Nationals, a bronze.

In 1992 the lightweight boys won NOVAs and were third at Scholastic Nationals. Cathy was named All-Met Boys Coach of the Year by the Washington Post. This year also marked the teams first purchase of new boats.

In 1993 Eric Rothstein became head boys coach and Cathy Coffman moved to the girls program.

In 1994 the varsity girls won NOVAs, took bronze at Stotesbury, and were second at Scholastic Nationals.

The team had grown to over 120 rowers by 1995. The varsity girls won the New Jersey State Championship and were third at Scholastic Nationals. The varsity boys picked up their first NOVAs medal, a bronze and the lightweight girls captured the bronze medal at Stotesbury.

1996 was both a hard year and another banner year. The team lost four of our best shells in a traffic accident, but the Naval Academy team saved our season. They loaned us boats for the varsity and junior varsity crews. The lightweight boys won NOVAs and placed third at both Stotesbury and Scholastic Nationals. The varsity boys also won NOVAs and made their first Stotesbury final. The varsity girls took bronze at Stotesbury, then rowed away from the field to take the Scholastic Nationals Championship.

A new era began in 1997. Cathy moved on, Eric Rothstein became head coach, and Ashton Richards joined the team as varsity girls coach. The lightweight boys earned our first Stotesbury silver medal. The varsity boys won their second straight NOVAs championship and sprinted through the pack to take bronze at Scholastic Nationals. The varsity girls won NOVAs, bronze at Stotesbury, and silver at Scholastic Nationals. The team also captured the points trophy for a dominating overall performance at NOVAs. Out of fourteen events entered, Jefferson took gold in seven and silver in six.

A fleet of fours was purchased in 1998, allowing Jefferson to enter small-boat races for the first time. Of twelve championship sweep events at the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Championship, TJ medaled in eight, twice as many as any other team. Out of 125 teams competing at the Stotesbury Cup Regatta, TJ was the only one to make the finals in both the boys and girls varsity eight events. At Scholastic Nationals the varsity girls were in the medals for a fifth straight year.

In 1999 Jefferson swept the varsity eight races at the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Championship and also took the title in the boys second four. The girls won their second Scholastic Nationals title, finishing the season with just one narrow loss. The girls competed in a new Vespoli Millennium named "Euphoria," the first high-end racing shell that the team ever purchased.

Matt Shoop became the fourth varsity girls coach of the Jefferson girls in 2000. The varsity boys won the Virginia Championship for the fourth time in five years and took fourth at Scholastic Nationals. The second eight boys were state champions as well. The freshman girls took the bronze medal at both Stotesbury and SRA.

The boys had another successful year in 2001. The varsity eight won states and the junior eight came in second. Both crews received silver medals at the National Capitol Area Scholastic Rowing Championships.

The fall of 2001 brought tragedy to the team. Eric Rothstein died tragically on November 24, 2001. We had to regroup after the tragic loss. Matt Shoop took over the head coach's position, while Jim Granger moved from the boy’s freshman coach to the boy’s varsity coach. After Eric's death, the team renewed their commitment to training in Eric’s memory. That winter training brought about record attendance, and that showed in the following spring. The team renamed the varsity eight to the "Eric Rothstein" and vowed to never let that name leave the boy’s varsity eight. For the fifth year in a row, the boy’s varsity eight won the Virginia Championships. The junior eight took home silver again. Because of the depth of the team, the boy's team won the points trophy, a first for Jefferson and Eric's dream. The boy's varsity eight came in a close second behind St. Albans at the NCASRC, where the Rothstein/Bleeker bronze was first presented. The Girls Second and JV eights took silver at Stotesubry. The freshman eight took third at Scholastic Rowing Nationals in Oak Ridge, TN.

In 2003 - Building on the success of the previous year, TJ Crew achieved unprecedented results on both the girl's and boy's side. The boy’s varsity 8 captured the Eric Rothstein trophy, winning the NCASRA championship, and also won its fifth straight State Championship. A senior laden girl’s varsity 8 took home silver at the State Championship. Evidence of the team's tremendous depth was the stellar performance of the girls second 8 which won every single race it entered, and went on to win a gold medal at the Stotesbury Cup Regatta. The boy’s varsity placed second at both Stotesbury and Nationals, and the girl’s freshman eight placed third at Stotesbury and second at Nationals.

In 2004 TJ crew once again bettered its previous record with the top three boats on each side of the program winning the state championship as well as the girl’s freshman eight. At Stotesbury, the boy’s varsity eight won gold for the first time in the history of the team! The girl’s varsity took 4th and the girls second eight won the silver medal and the boys second eight took 5th. Another team first was the boy’s freshman eight which advanced to the final and won the bronze medal. At nationals all the boats again had great races and the boy’s varsity eight brought home the gold medal. They then traveled across the Atlantic to compete in the Royal Henley Regatta. Greg Haugh and Rhett Summers were also invited to Junior National selection camp.

In 2005 at States, the team swept the heavyweight championship eight events, winning both points trophies. The freshman girls won their final. At SRA Nationals, five boats, boy’s and girl’s first and second eights and the freshman girls made the finals with the boy’s first, girls first, and girl’s second taking bronze, silver, and silver respectively.

The history was not kept up for several years following the 2005 season so their are many results that are missing which is a shame since the 2006 and 2007 seasons were some of the most successful in TJ’s history. Both years the boy’s team dominated their competition with victories at NCASRA’s, Stotesbury and Nationals as well as two more trips to England to race at the Royal Henley. The girl’s second eight was also first at Stotesbury.

After the 2007 season the boy’s team said farewell to Jim Granger who left TJ to become the Varsity men’s coach at the Florida Institute of Technology.

The 2008 season was the first of a season and half with Todd Jesdale as the boy’s varsity coach. The boy’s again won the NCASRA championships. With Todd’s departure in March of 2009 the boys coaches pulled together to complete the season sharing the load of coaching the varsity and the rest of their charges.

The 2010 season saw the return of Bill Randall to the TJ team. For six years in the early years of 2000 Bill coached various boats at TJ before coaching at West Springfield for four years. In 2011 Bill took over as the head coach while Matt Shoop remained with the team as the varsity girl’s coach.