Getting Started…

The Farmington Crew program got off to a soft start in spring 2002 with nearly 40 athletes, 2 coaches, and 2 shells, one of which was ominously called the “Dark Horse.” But in spring 2003, the program started to take off under the leadership of Megan Batcho and Michael McVay. The program boasted 56 participants, and for the first time proved itself with some hardware: a bronze medal won by the boys second novice at the Connecticut Public Schools Rowing Association (CPSRA) Championship Regatta. Racing against established programs such as Simsbury and Greenwich, Farmington Crew had a lot to prove and not many resources with which to prove it. Melissa Pessoa, a member of the inaugural girls boat, describes those first few seasons:

“We went to races in our own transportation. Switching shoes or getting a smaller size was not an option. Both boys and girls shared the same shell and split up water time evenly. Our uniforms were simple white t-shirts with black spandex. We didn’t stand out from a crowd, but I didn’t realize how much we didn’t have until we went to the first Riverfront Regatta.”

But Farmington Crew had bigger problems than uniforms and shells when a coach who had taken over from Batcho left in Fall 2003 right after their last regatta. The program was on the point of collapse when Dr. Laura Butterfield, a science teacher at Farmington High School, agreed to step to the helm of the program. Coach Butterfield’s leadership has been essential to creating a sustainable, but more importantly, dedicated team of rowers year after year.

It takes community…

The Farmington Crew program would never have gotten off the ground, never mind flourished, without the countless hours and unbelievable efforts put in by parents. These parents joined forces to form the Friends of Farmington Crew. Besides cheering their children on at every race, whether in summer sun or bitter winds, the parents took Farmington Crew from a one-shell, one-shoe size program to a team now boasting 12 shells, 120 athletes, 5 coaches and a brand-new boathouse on the Farmington River. Through many varied fundraising ventures, such as murder mystery dinners and duck races, the Farmington community has ensured that its rowers have the resources needed to perform at their highest ability.

Building year upon year…

While each year has seen an increase in both the strength of the program and its rowers, a few years in particular stand out in the team’s collective memory. In Fall 2004, Farmington Crew welcomed an unprecedented 101 rowers and a seasoned coaching staff for the first time. Farmington Crew has kept its eye on maintaining a competitive rivalry with the formidable Simsbury and Glastonbury crew teams. Fall 2006 proved a noteworthy season when Rodney Meissner was brought on as coach for the girl’s team, and assumed the new Girls head coach position in the Spring of 07. The program now had the necessary coaching to drive it to new heights.

The teams raced against Simsbury, Xavier, and Glastonbury, with the 1st boys boat winning silver, only 8 seconds behind Simsbury in an over 17 minute race. The Spring 2007 season proved an especially record-breaking season. Not only did the new boathouse survive the second worst flood in Farmington history, but FHS crew placed fourth in the 12-school CPSRA Championship Regatta , with the 1st boys boat bringing home their first ever medal: the silver. This admirable showing earned them a place in the New England Interscholastic Rowing Association (NEIRA) Championship Regatta at the highest seeding to date. The 2007-2008 season got off to another exciting start with a particularly noteworthy first for the program: the 1st boys team was invited to participate at the Head of the Charles, the world’s largest two-day rowing event. While the team went home without a medal, the event was heavily symbolic for a team that had started, just six years ago, with one shell and zero experience.

Not only has the program been building on it’s successes, garnering 5 medals and placing third overall in the CPSRA State Championships as well as having a boat make it to the Petit finals at the NEIRA Chamionships in 2008, but has reached out to the community as well. One of the highlights of the Spring 2008 season was the first Hayley Petit Cup regatta between Miss Porters Crew and the Farmington High Girls Crew teams. This will be an annual event that will raise funds for the Hayley Petit Scholarship fund.


Who can predict what the future will bring? But with the dramatic growth and incredible accomplishments that this program has achieved in a very short period, one can only imagine what a powerhouse the Farmington High Crew program will be in years to come.