2022 Dad Vail Program

In the fall of 2006, Thomas Jefferson University set out to recruit its inaugural women’s rowing team. Forty one enthusiastic students came forward, hoping to be part of this historic crew. A few weeks into training, the coaches scheduled a 5-mile outdoor run … for 5:30 a.m. That dark morning, shortly after they began running, it started to pour. Head Coach Chris O’Brien remembers thinking, “This will make some people think twice about whether they really want to do this. Surely, some will quit.” The next day, all 41 showed up again. Only two of them had rowed before, but what the Rams lacked in experience they made up for in grit and determination. Not wanting to turn away the dedicated student-athletes, O’Brien put all 41 on the team–even though the school only owned 12 rowing machines, four eight-oared boats and four sets of oars. Boathouse Row was fully occupied, so the Rams signed a lease at Whitemarsh Boat Club in Conshohocken, about a half-hour away. They shared the facility– which had been converted from an industrial warehouse–with 10 other colleges and high schools. After just one year of competing, the Rams Women’s Novice 8 won their event at the 2007 Dad Vail Regatta. It was the first time in the Dad Vail’s 73-year history that a first-year program won a gold medal in the category. That early taste of victory was just the beginning of the success the program would see. The institution has become a regular at the NCAA DII Championships, making the cut in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2019, and finishing as high as third place. It has produced six All-Americans, who earned the honor a total of nine times: Magdalena Dzierzanowski and Renee Rozaieski in 2010; Mary Swings into its 15th DadVail Regatta RAMSROWING