Mailing Address: P.O BOX 15604, CHESAPEAKE, VA 23328
Introduce members to the sport of rowing. Educate members about boating and water safety. Foster a spirit of teamwork, mutual respect and good sportsmanship. Educate members about proper fitness, nutrition and training. Provide networking opportunities with colleges and clubs for members who wish to participate after graduation.
Hickory Crew…..The Early Years
Hickory Crew’s beginnings stemmed from two adventurous girls that fell in love with rowing. In the spring of 1998, two friends, Amy Baker and Amanda Dawson watched Amanda’s older sister, Lauren rowed for William and Mary in the Crawford Bay Crew Classic. Both girls decided that they did not want to wait 2 years until college to row. After getting their parents, Clay Baker, Jody Baker, Jack Dawson and Becky Dawson, on board, they set out to form Hickory Crew.
This journey was no easy task! In the beginning they raised funds any possible way they could. During a bad storm in the area, one local tree service donated all the downed trees from the storm to the team. The parents and team members split the wood, as well as sold and delivered the wood. This fundraiser actually raised the money for Hickory Crew’s first boat. They also did car washes and doughnut sales to raise money for boats, trailers, oars and construction material for the dock. All the labor for building the trailer and the dock was provided by the parents and friends.
Danny Plante, Tim Kerr and Lindsy Dixon were the first coaches for the team. They volunteered their time and energy in developing this young team. Danny Plante was such an inspiring and dedicated coach and he left a tremendous impact on that first crew team. There was no rowing club at Hickory High school at this time, or any rowing clubs in Chesapeake for that matter. This was definitely a challenge for two young girls and their parents. They got other students involved and the club crew to 15 members.
In 2016, Hickory Crew honored the founding members. The event included the newest Vespoli shell officially named the “Baker-Dawson.” Amy and Amanda were there to pour a bottle over the bow, as well as having their parents witness this special occasion. From a dream of two young girls has grown into a club with 45 members. Hickory Crew hopes we make these two ladies and their parents proud of the dream they created.
Hickory Crew Honors Fallen Marine
In 2011, Hickory Crew honored one of their own past members, 1st Lt. Michael E. Johnson by naming a boat after him. Michael Johnson was a rower before he graduated Hickory High School in 2002. He helped build up the team through Hickory’s early years. Mike was a motivating individual and an inspiration to the team. Crew meant a lot to Mike. After college, Michael joined the marines. Five months into his Afghan tour, his troop was ambushed by about 100 enemy fighters. Michael was killed during this ambush. Lt. Johnson was just 25 years old.
During the boat dedication, Marines marched in with American flags, Michael’s mother, Claudia Johnson, poured a bottle of champagne over the bow of the “1st Lt. M.E. Johnson, USMC.” The new Vespoli racing shell will remind rowers of Michael. Mike may not be here with us in person, but Mike’s spirit and the values he stood for will animate this boat,” stated Michael Vesely, President of Hickory Crew.
In the summer of 1998, a group of students from Hickory High School became members of Hampton Roads Rowing Club. This positive experience created a desire to promote rowing in their high school and their community by establishing a rowing club and taking part in regattas.
To begin this tradition in their hometown of Chesapeake, VA, these students formed Hickory Rowing Club and have worked diligently over the years to raise funds to purchase boats and equipment necessary to make rowing possible.
Hampton Roads rowing opponents include nine school-sponsored clubs. In addition, numerous high schools in other parts of the Commonwealth field teams that Hickory faces at regional races.
Since the club’s inception, many changes have taken place. What started out as a club without coaches and only 14 members, has grown into a self-supporting club with as many as 50 members at various times. Currently, we have 40+ rowers.