Colorado Junior Crew was started in 2007 at the Boulder Reservoir. With no equipment of its own, CJC partnered with Boulder Community Rowing (the adult program that also rows out of Boulder Reservoir) so that it could provide rowing programs for juniors in the Boulder area. In the early years, CJC offered fall, winter, and spring programs culminating in a trip to Oklahoma City, OK to compete in the USRowing Central Youth Championships. Winners of races at OKC earn bids to the USRowing Youth Nationals.
In 2011, CJC started a summer program with 18 kids participating and barely broke even financially. The 2016 summer program had more than 100 registrations spread throughout four 2-week sessions at the reservoir.
When CJC hired Coach Lisa Dirth in 2013 the club had 24 athletes participating that fall. By 2016, fall rower paticipation had grown to 75 athletes from vour area school districts and 20 different schools making it the largest junior rowing program in the state. In the Fall of 2016, CJC also added Director of Rowing, Marika Page and Assistant Director of Rowing, Veronika Platzer to the organization.
The club now travels to regional regattas in several states as well as local regattas throughout Colorado. In 2016, CJC earned its first bids in club history to USRowing Youth Rowing Championships.
Stories Behind the Names of Some of CJC's Boats
Rowing is nothing if not full of tradition, and that tradition extends to the ritual of giving each boat a name. Ships were originally given names for purely logistical reasons - passengers and crew needed to make sure they were talking about the same voyage. Today, boat names are less about logistics and more about describing the owner or a boat's origin, or honoring someone from the past.
Many of Colorado Junior Crew's rowing shells continue these traditions, bearing the names of special family members of those that provided the funds to allow CJC to acquire the boat. In other cases, a generous financial donation to CJC purchased the naming rights for a shell. In every case, Colorado Junior Crew is extremely grateful for the support.
The following are the stories behind some of CJC's shells.
Type of shell: 2004 Vespoli
Donated by: The Moore Family in 2014
The G-Pow is named in memory of George Dirth, the beloved son of CJC Coach, Lisa Dirth.
George was an accomplished rower for both Derryfield School in Manchester, NH and Oregon State University. At OSU, he was a three-year varsity crew member, and as stroke, led OSU to a Top-10, D1 ranking his junior year. George was awarded All Pac 10 academic honors for three consecutive years. On several occasions, he served as a substitute coach for CJC.
G-Pow was his pen name for a blog site he created to educate people about his other passion: skiing and snowboarding in the Colorado backcountry. Tragically on December 31, 2013, George lost his life to an avalanche while backcountry snowboarding in Colorado. He was 27 years old.
CJC athletes wear T-shirts with “WWGD?” (What Would George Do?) on the front, and George’s favorite saying on the back. “People avoid risks in life, so they can make it to death safely.”
When CJC athletes step into the G-Pow, whether out for practice or in the heat of competition, they carry George’s radiant spirit, true love for the sport and heartfelt determination with them.
Type of Shell: Vespoli 4+
Donated By: Pentz/Strugar Family
“Nancy” = adventurous, fierce, loving, strong, courageous
The Nancy is named for Nancy Pentz, CJC athletes Saylor and Zachary Strugar’s maternal grandmother. Nancy was born in Alameda, California in 1935 in the midst of the depression. She and her twin brother Bob were adopted as infants by Myrtle and Clarence Nobmann. Nancy graduated from Scarsdale High School and went on to the Oberlin Conservatory as a pianist, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1957. During her senior year at Oberlin, Nancy met Paul Pentz and they married in 1958. Together they had three children and two grandchildren. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with friends and family before Nancy passed on April 14, 2010.
Nancy had an adventurous spirit, a fierce love of family, and was exceedingly strong and courageous in the face of adversity. Perfect characteristics for a racing shell.
Nancy’s most precious memories were of summers spent at the family cabin on a lake in northern Vermont. There, she watched her grandchildren grow. Nancy absolutely adored her grandchildren and they brought her endless joy. She and Paul would sit together on their porch swing or at the beach and watch Saylor and Zachary out on the water. They were always out on the water. As a gift to Paul, a man who is impossible to buy for and claims to need nothing but his family, christening a boat in Nancy’s name was perfect. Paul now delights in thinking about his grandchildren pursuing their passion in a boat named for his soulmate, Nancy, out on the water.
Type of shell: 2015 Vespoli 4+
Donated by: Channen and Rene Smith in 2015
The Vada Le is named in honor and memory of Vada Le Stewart, great grandmother of CJC athletes Vada and Zoe Smith.
Vada Le Stewart was born 1930 in Phoenix, Arizona and was truly an Arizona pioneer. She, along with her husband, raised four sons on a cotton farm in the remote Maricopa County in Southern Arizona. One of her best friends in her younger years was current Supreme Court Judge, Sandra Day O’Connor. Vada Le was the president of the school board in her town and was dedicated to youth development.
Vada Le had an adventurous spirit, traveling across the globe. She devoted a great deal of time to working with indigenous people in Peru, Mexico and here in the United States with the Navajo, Hopi, and Apache nations. She was also an accomplished artist, with her work displayed in numerous locations most notably – Grand Palais in Paris, San Miguel de AlIende, Mexico City as well as galleries in Laguna Beach, Tucson, Phoenix and Wagon Wheel Gap in Colorado.