History

Dr. Oliver H. Brundage introduced the sport of rowing to the Parkersburg area in 1960. Since that time there have been well over a thousand high school and college athletes participate in the sport through the Ohio Valley Rowing Club and member teams. The Ohio Valley Rowing Club is committed to continuing Dr. Brundage' s vision of having one of the finest rowing programs in the East.

After moving to Parkersburg, Dr. Brundage became reacquainted with rowing when an Irish intern, who was also an oarsman, came to a local hospital. The two of them got a single scull which was brought here from the Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia. The two men rowed the shell on Lake Washington just south of Parkersburg. It was then that Dr. Brundage decided to do what he could to promote rowing in the area.

He purchased land on the Little Kanawha River at Happy Valley. He begged and borrowed materials to build a boathouse. An eight oar shell was given to the club by Marietta College. Dr. Brundage then approached the principal at Parkersburg Catholic High School, Fr. Robert Wanstreet, and convinced him of the sport's merit. In 1961, Parkersburg Catholic High School was the first and only high school crew team in the state. Rowing in Parkersburg had its birth.

Although rowing began in 1961, the Ohio Valley Rowing Club was not incorporated and chartered by the state until March 1962. Eight names appear on the charter, however, Dr. Brundage is the most significant as it was his dream which had become true.

Dr. Brundage continued to create interest in rowing. He helped Mountain State College and Ohio Valley College start teams in 1961; however, interest at those schools died within a few years. Parkersburg High School began rowing in 1963 and has been in competition ever since; although, in the early years, competition frequently took them on long trips. In fact, in the late 1960s teams from Parkersburg Catholic and Parkersburg High claimed "international" status after rowing races in Canada.

Dr. Brundage's enthusiasm and influence did not end in Parkersburg. Besides helping local crews get started, he helped teams start at Wheeling Central HS and Morris Harvey College, now the University of Charleston. He is even credited with helping the University of Nebraska get their program on the water.

Dr. Brundage was a life member of the organization which became the USRA and served on the board of directors. As a physician, Dr. Brundage served as team physician for several U.S. national teams, including the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and the 1971 World Rowing Championships in Copenhagen. As Dr. Brundage continued to travel with rowing, crews from the Mid-Ohio Valley began to participate in club competition. In 1968 the first team to represent the Ohio Valley Rowing Club was sent to Philadelphia and took first place in an Under 16 race. In 1972 a group of girls represented the OVRC in Seattle at the National Women's Championship.

Rowing in the Mid-Ohio Valley prospered primarily due to one man's dedication to the sport. Dr. Brundage could often be found at the boat house in Happy Valley, cutting the grass or doing whatever it took to keep the grounds up. Dr. Brundage died in 1973, but his influence in rowing and in life is still felt at the Ohio Valley Rowing Club.