History of MTL Rowing
In September 1991, 6 students joined together to form the first rowing team at Mt. Lebanon High School. At this time the team had no coach, no budget, and none of the students had rowed before. Despite these obstacles, the first team held regular informal practices.
In February 1992, Sean Nangle signed on as Head Coach. With him came J. Michael Baker as Assistant Coach. In the fall of 1992, Mt. Lebanon participated in their first race, the Head of the Ohio (HOTO) held in Pittsburgh. Several weeks later the team traveled to Philadelphia for the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta.
A Growth Spurt
As the years passed and the team grew, a strong parent group emerged with the help of our first Commodore, Mike Hughes, followed by Mike Eastman. It was with their guidance that rowing became anchored at Mt. Lebanon High School.
The crew club became incorporated in the state of PA as a 501c(3) not-for-profit organization and, for the most part, financially supported through membership dues and an annual fundraiser. We have built a partnership with the school; our rowers are able to receive Varsity Letters and we receive other support, such as space at the high school to work out on our ergometers (rowing machines). In 1999, the school provided financial support in the form of the payment of boat storage.
Only ten years after beginning with 6 students and no coaches, Mt. Lebanon Rowing hit 70 members, with a head coach and three assistant coaches. We needed two coach busses to handle our travel.
Since the club’s humble beginnings we have moved from having no assets to owning two 2x/2+, five 4+ and four 8+ shells, a trailer for hauling our shells and equipment, a trailer for our tent and food equipment, 36 oars, 6 cox boxes, and four 14ft. motor launches for the coaches to use during practices.
Being self-funded presents a hurdle that most other sports do not have to handle. A few times since our high-member mark in 2001 we have seen participation drop significantly. Each time we have dropped we have been able to come back up a bit, generally to the 30-40 member range. As recently as 2014-2015 we were down to a total of about 15 kids on the team. In 2017 we have 30 rowers. With another strong recruiting effort we should get over the 40 member mark again.
A Big Change
In February 2017 we moved from TRRA to the Groveton Boathouse at Montour Marina near Coraopolis. This is a big change for the program as we had been at TRRA since our inception 25 years earlier. With less dock congestion and reduced river traffic, this change will help us get more out of our practice time and devlop some new rivalries with the high schools that row out of that boathouse.
Rowing has a long regional heritage and with the reclaiming of the rivers it is a fast growing sport in the area. We continue to win numerous gold, silver, and bronze medals at regattas throughout the year. These accomplishments validate the entire organization and all of the effort put in by the athletes, coaches and parent booster group.