We are a family affair. We have four coaches – Eunice Hone, Jessica Mellinger, Megan Mellinger and Kathy Wojtas. Kathy and Megan are siblings. We are three of seven children. We grew up in a “rowing family” in South Jersey where Crew is big. We learned to row in middle school, continued at Holy Spirit High School and then rowed for Florida Institute of Technology (FIT). Jessica is Megan’s daughter who coxswained for Miami Rowing Club and FIT. Eunice is a good friend with many years of rowing experience.
How We Began
Eunice, Kathy and Megan are Master Rowers at Hollywood Rowing Club (HRC). In September of 2015, Kathy ran into some girls from St. Thomas Aquinas High School who wanted to row. We offered to teach them on Saturdays. More girls joined. They wanted to be competitive – to race, so we began adding more practices. We went to two races our first year and medaled at each of them. Last year, we had 25 girls, a schedule of races and practiced six times per week. In a very short time, we have become a competitive team earning medals at every regatta we attend, including States!
Our High School Rowing History
In 1979, when Kathy and Megan began Holy Spirit High School they only had a Boys’ Crew Team. We had four boys in our family and they all rowed. Our mother saw the benefits that Rowing was having on her boys – developing a solid work ethic, becoming responsible and accountable, getting in excellent physical shape, hanging out with good kids and getting into college on scholarships. She wanted this for her girls too. She asked to begin a team for the girls but the school said no. They did not believe that girls should be rowing. So, she started a girls club at another boathouse. In 1982, after a few years of proving themselves, Holy Spirit accepted the girls as a varsity sport and they have won several national titles since then. Our mother passed away from breast cancer in 1985. Holy Spirit gives out the Rita McDevitt Award every year to the girl who most embodies sportsmanship and leadership. We think of her all the time in our efforts with our team today.
Why Just Girls?
Because that’s all we can handle. Because it’s kind of like a “girls club”. Because we have eight daughters between us and we know girls. Because we want to show girls how to be strong, healthy and confident. Because we have a great group of girls!
What’s The Deal with St. Thomas?
We began this club to make Rowing accessible to all girls in our community. Last year, we had 25 girls. 20 attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School and five were from other high schools. Boats were a mix of girls from different schools. We do not boat based on school. We boat based on attitude, fitness, technique and attendance. Late last year, St. Thomas added us as a sports club. Although we anticipate that most of our girls will again come from St. Thomas, we still welcome any girl from any school. We are inclusive and want to make Rowing available to any girl who does not have Rowing at their school.
In The News
Sun-Sentinel, 2017: Girls historic rowing team hopes to build on regatta success
Town & Country, 2014: Big Daddy: America’s biggest college rowing event
US Rowing, 2009: US Rowing Spotlight: Family Affair
Florida Tech Today, 2007 (pg 32): McDevitts: The Rowing Family from New Jersey