Scadron, Washington, D.C., June 2006
I actually graduated from T.C. Williams High School in 1985 and
rowed from eighth grade throughout. So, the successful rowing program
at T.C. was not a mystery to me. I cherished each season and am
left with a treasure of memories. As a filmmaker, I always wanted
to make a film that captured the beauty and passion of the sport.
Almost twenty years later, it dawned on me that the same coaches
were still at the boathouse instilling wonderful life lessons to
teenagers as they had done to me.
One coach that caught my attention over those five years was Dee
Campbell. He coached the women's senior and junior eights. His crews
vied for his attention. When they would row by the boathouse with
their clean white blades, you understood the harmony and beauty
of the sport. Plus, his crews always seemed to win everything: the
local championships, the Stotesbury Cup, the National Championships,
and the Canadian Championships. They had it all.
Being an alumni of T.C. and the crew team helped ensure the principal,
crew boosters, coaches and parents that I would make a faithful
and inspiring documentary about the T.C. rowing experience. After
all, public high schools are not in the business of seeking publicity.
I was very appreciative of receiving access to film the students
inside the school and on the river.
As I began to document the season, I had a very clear focus of how
to tell a compelling story about coach Dee Campbell and his crew.
First, I would need to capture all of the major elements of the
season: the freezing start in February and March, the sunrise rows
from spring break on, and the spirit of the race. Second, Dee's
back story of how he rowed for the Old Dominion Boat Club after
World War II and how he coached boys for fifteen years before championing
the women's program.
As I researched the rise of women's rowing, I
learned how it is directly attributed to Title IX. This compelled
me to rework the story to raise awareness about the positive strides
made by Title IX and why it remains controversial. It was a balancing
act, but necessary for Dee's legacy to be put into perspective.
Are you ready? Row!