Matt and Trish Chase founded Westerville Crew about 15 years ago and have taught more than 1,200 students the art of rowing.

Matt and Trish Chase founded Westerville Crew about 15 years ago and have taught more than 1,200 students the art of rowing.

During the last five years, their graduating seniors have earned athletic scholarships to schools such as Stanford, California, Clemson, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and many others, with the majority only learning to row during their freshman year in high school.

It is no wonder why students still continue to enroll in the club's learn-to-row classes.

Westerville Crew uses different strategies to pass the word around central Ohio. They have printed information booklets and put out adds, even left contact information in various local businesses. Trish Chase said the most effective way is to focus around the numerous scholarship opportunities available for rowers. So, naturally they want to inform the parents just as much as the students.

"We've achieved quite a few successes over the past several years with going to nationals and getting the scholarships, and the parents love to sing our praises," Trish Chase said. "And that's where we get it (student enrollment). One mother talks to another mother and says, 'Let's get my kid to row.'"

Matt and Trish Chase, as well as the other coaches, all work as volunteers. The other coaches are usually graduated members of Westerville Crew, including numerous former scholarship winners.

Westerville North High School 2008 graduate Chris Yeager is one of the assistant coaches. He didn't start rowing until the spring of his freshman year in high school. Not only did he receive a full scholarship to California, he won the IRA National Championship as the youngest member of the varsity rowing squad this past season.

"Matt and Trish help us out so much," Yeager said. "Without them I'd be here (in Westerville). They provide a great stepping-stone, and put so much of their time into this everyday.

Matt Chase took one look at Yeager and his height, and immediately knew that if he could just get Yeager to come out and try rowing, Yeager could be something special. It didn't take Matt Chase long to convince him.

"I met him in the cafeteria at North and said, 'Hey, where do you want to go to school one day?'" Chase said. "He said to me, 'Yale.' I told him I could get him there, but it would be through rowing. So he joined the rowing team. He was heavily recruited by Yale, before he decided on Cal."

First-time rower Zach Whalen, a North sophomore, has been rowing for only six days. Like many other students, he decided to try rowing because of the scholarship possibilities, but said he was sold because his friends said it was a great time.

"I get to be on the water," Whalen said. "It's just fun."

North freshman Mandy Rad-igan was motivated by her sister, Erin Radigan, who received a scholarship from Stanford after her senior year in 2008. Erin Radigan started rowing after she arrived to the crew event thinking she was attending a soccer game. Mandy Radigan watched her sister's meets on the computer with her mother, and decided she wanted to give it a try.

Like the other "learn-to-rowers," Mandy Radigan will continue to get instruction from the volunteer staff on the Hoover Reservoir for the rest of the summer in anticipation of the fall season beginning Aug. 16.

Westerville Crew has two more learn-to-row sessions this summer, one beginning July 12, and the other Aug. 2. The learn-to-row fee will cover the rest of the summer instruction. Anybody from the northeast Columbus metropolitan area can join, including members from the Westerville, Olentangy, Big Walnut, New Albany, Gahanna and Granville school districts.

At a glance

Notable Westerville Crew alumni:

Jessica Leidecker Clemson/U.S. National Team

Chris Yeager California

Erin Radigan Stanford

Allie Davis North Carolina

Kate Moran Mercyhurst

Ellen Hughes Minnesota