Written by Jill Nossa, email@example.com Friday, 25 January 2013 00:00
The Sagamore Rowing Association (SRA) hosted a special evening of activities at the Brookville Country Club on Saturday, Jan. 5, in celebration of its 40th anniversary, an event that drew more than 130 people.
As part of the night’s activities, the association honored Bob Kaehler, Sagamore alumni, three-time Olympian and four-time World Champion, and Taylor Ritzel, U.S. Women’s 8+ 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist.
“We were truly excited to celebrate this very momentous occasion,” said Gunther Uthgennant, co-founder of SRA. “It has been an honor to have touched so many lives with a sport of a lifetime.”
Founded in 1972, the Sagamore Rowing Association has been responsible for training thousands of athletes and developing some of the top coaches in the tri-state area. SRA’s activities include high school and college programs as well as master programs, both recreational and competitive.
Uthgennant is the only remaining founder of the club. He said that it began in a boathouse on Center Island Beach, with only a few people who loved the sport. The club then moved to Huntington and a second boathouse opened at Friends World College, and then moved back to Oyster Bay, on Beekman Beach, where it is today. He says that it currently has about 500 members, ranging from as young as 13 to older than 80. It is a nonprofit club run by volunteers.
During rowing season, members are training regularly. Uthgennant himself, at age 83, is out there four times a week. He began rowing with his family when he was young, and his love of the sport helped spark the creation of the rowing club.
Two races are held in Oyster Bay every year, in the spring and the fall, and Uthgennant says last June, there were 900 participants and about 3,000 spectators. Every year he says they have people rank at a national level.
Some of Sagamore’s more notable alumni include Dave Collins, 1996 Olympic Bronze Medalist and National Team member in ‘93, ‘94 and ‘95; Jennie Gilder, member of the 1973 National Team; Scott McKee, a member of the 1985 National Team and former head rowing coach at Columbia; and Nancy Storrs, 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist.
Uthgennant says one of the reasons for the club’s long-term success is that it is open to anyone who shows an interest. And he says, “Once they’re in, they’re hooked.”
In addition, Sagamore has been instrumental in the growth of rowing on Long Island, especially in the creation of high school and college programs, including Chaminade HS Crew, Cold Spring Harbor HS Crew, Friends Academy Crew, Hofstra University Crew, Huntington HS Crew, LIU Post Crew, Long Island Rowing Club, Our Lady of Mercy HS Crew, St. Anthony’s HS Crew and Crew Club Of Oyster Bay.
Uthgennant notes that rowing is a terrific form of exercise, and says, “Kids love the camaraderie, and they feel a sense of accomplishment.”