The 2006 and 2007 Girls’ Varsity Crews
The 2006 girls’ varsity crew started a streak. Undefeated in dual and championship races over both 1500 and 2000 meters, they captured every possible title, including the Philadelphia City Championship, the Mid-Atlantic Prep League Championship, the Stotesbury Cup, the Scholastic Rowing Association National Championship and the USRowing Youth National Championship.

2006 Girls’ Varsity Crew (left to right) Libfraind, Hawes, Carini, Tarabour, Delaney.

Of particular note, the USRowing Youth National Championship is open to both club and scholastic teams. The girls’ “bowball” victory, a slim 0.6 second margin, was the start of a dynasty that would last four years. In the fall preceding this historic season, the crew of Chloe Delaney ’08 (coxswain), Lauren Libfraind ’07 (stroke), Erin Hawes ’08 (3-seat), Roxanne Carini ’07 (2-seat) and Brittany Tarabour ’07 (bow seat) finished second at the prestigious Head of the Charles regatta in Boston. Peddie was the fastest high school crew by several boat lengths, finishing between Northeastern and Princeton Universities in spite of having to come to a complete stop during the race to avoid getting entangled in one of the classic collisions for which the winding Charles course is known.

The 2007 crew, with Shelley Pearson ’09 in for Tarabour and the rest of the lineup the same, continued the streak of dual and championship races winning the same events by up to six boat lengths, an enormous margin not unlike Secretariat winning Belmont Stakes. The girls also helped bring home The Brown Cup, a points-trophy contested with Lawrenceville, which had not been in Peddie’s hands since 1995. In an ultimate act of sportsmanship, the Lawrenceville crew rowed over to Peddie and said, “It was an honor to be with you for 500 meters (of the 1500 meter race). Good luck at Nationals!” The ’07 crew went on to win Youth Nationals again, this time by 6.0 seconds.

2007 Girls’ Varsity Crew

2007 Girls’ Varsity Crew (left to right) Coach Grudt, Delaney, Pearson, Carini, Hawes, Libfraind.

College recruiters waited on shore for these girls to land. Libfraind went on to row in Brown’s varsity eight for four years, winning NCAA accolades along the way. Carini rowed for Yale University and competed in the Henley Women’s Regatta in England. Hawes rowed for UVA and was later joined by Delaney. Pearson spent four years in Harvard’s varsity crew and went on to win the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race rowing for Oxford before ultimately competing for Bermuda in the 2016 Rio Olympics in the Women’s Single.

The astounding thing about the success of these two boats was that they emerged from a team of only 15 athletes, all of whom took their first strokes at Peddie, and prevailed against schools and clubs with rosters four or five times their size.

The rowing shell used by the 2006 crew now hangs prominently in the Ian H. Graham ’50 Athletic Center as an inspiration for future rowers dreaming of taking their own first strokes at Peddie.