St. Catharines Rowing Club adds three shells to racing inventory following boat christening ceremony

Father’s Day came a week early for Paul Beedling.

Before christening a two-person shell that the St. Catharines Rowing Alumni has dedicated in his honor, the longtime volunteer listened as his three sons recounted what it was like growing up in a rowing family and being coached by their dad.

In his comments, Calum said while brothers Liam and Patrick both went to Ivy League schools he took bragging rights on the water by winning two gold medals at the Canadian Secondary Schools Association Regatta in 2007.

“That was the best day of my life. You contributed to so many rowers’ best days,” Calum said in thanking his father.

Paul Beedling assisted in the development of high school rowers at Grimsby and the former Lakeport in St. Catharines. He also spent 17 years volunteering at the St. Catharines Rowing Club.

Beedling made a point of sharing his day in the spotlight. He pointed out it was his wife Moira’s birthday and helped his grandchildren take turns pouring water from Martindale Pond on the bow of a pair that can be converted into a double.

The stern of a shell valued at $15,000 will be dedicated to West Niagara Secondary, the yet-to-completed replacement for Beamsville District Secondary School and Grimsby Secondary School.

Three shells, including an eight, were christened in a mid-afternoon ceremony at the St. Catharines Rowing Association Hall overlooking Martindale Pond.

Following a tradition of honoring past presidents of the rowing club, the bow of the eight was dedicated to Don Baker Jr.

Baker, who began rowing at the club level after graduating from Lakeport, pointed out his family’s involvement in the sport dates back 72 years.

“Rowing is in our blood and, hopefully. That will continue for a long time,” he said.

The stern was named Little Joe Naps in recognition of the role he played in his children’s high school rowing careers at Denis Morris Catholic High School in St. Catharines.

Acting principal Colleen Quinn-Boyer, who christened the boat valued at $50,000 on behalf of the family, called the eight the ultimate symbol of teamwork.

“More than anything in sport, the eight emphasizes the power of the team over the individual,” she said.

The bow of a four/quad worth upwards of $30,000 honored Wayne Dick while the stern was dedicated to Marion Markarian, a coach at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in St. Catharines.

Dick, a fourth-generation rower who took up the sport in Grade 6, recalled that he was always looking for time in the coxswain’s seat growing up.

“I would hang out at the dock hoping that a coxie wouldn’t show up.”

Fittingly, one of his opportunities was the front-facing seat shell christened in honor of his grandfather, Charles Dick.

Churchill head coach Steve Smith described Markarian’s enthusiasm as infectious.

“Even at 5 am in the morning, she has the brightest smile the friendliest ‘good morning,'” he said.

Before the christening ceremony, rowing club president Rick Crooker introduced the men’s eight and women’s eight that will be competing at the Henley Royal Regatta taking place June 28-July 3 in Henley-on-the-Thames, England.

Coached by Tom Kent, the men’s eight, as well as two alternates, includes Andrew Barry, Kai Bartel, Daniel Brophy, Owen Kudreikis, Jeremy Langelaan, Thomas Markewich, David Picard, Riley Pisek, Nikolas Schramm, Sam Stewart and Owen Voelkner.

A women’s eight, and two alternates, of Lisa Bos, Sara Butler, Rebecca Dockray, Meredith Hillmayer, Gillian Jansen, Stephanie Mowder, Rowan O’Neill, Clara Sabastianelli. Aiden Schirru, Rylie Wake and Grace Weaver will be coached by Liz Iannizzi.

Mike Thompson will accompany the crews to England as team manager.

Crooker said the selection was based on meeting the minimum performance standards set by the club, “and all these athletes blew right through them.”

“We want these crews to be competitive. Nobody wants to go that way not to be competitive,” he said.

Crocker also said Aaron Thompson, who played an integral role in getting high school rowing back of the water after “two horrible years,” will succeed Mark Walsh as the club’s captain.

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