More than forty years ago, before Dr. John “Doc” Holland came along, a lifeguard boat race was the only competitive rowing one could find along the Jersey shore. In 1957, all that changed when “Doc” Holland founded the Viking Rowing Club. And while rowers of any age can find support, camaraderie and competition at Viking today, the first three decades were dominated by youth rowing. Many rowing clubs sponsor or support high school rowing programs – and Viking doest that – including Holy Spirit, Mainland, Egg Harbor and Atlantic City High Schools. But the club saw an even greater opportunity to grow the sport by teaching kids – starting at age 10 – to row. The club sponsored a chicken barbeque the first Sunday in August each year and thew wee ones would scramble to dip the chickens in the barbeque bucket, thereby earning the moniker “chicken dippers.” “You show , you row” became the ad hoc slogan or a program which, under the tutelage of Ward Holland and Ray D’Amico, has grown to include more than 300 kids each season.
The Viking youth movement may have its roots in a barbeque bucket, but the thriving masters program can trace its lineage to a challenge. In 1985, the management of the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper challenged the staff of the Atlantic City Press to a race – and the Viking Rowing Club put the boat together – and started masters rowing at Viking at the same time. Today, masters rowers at Viking enter, and win, in regattas across the counter, from the Diamond State Masters and the Kings Head to the Heads of the Schuylkill and the Frostbite. Their boathouse is putting the finishing touches on a $750,000 renovation and their equipment is first-rage. Viking has coaching for all levels of the sport, And the friendly atmosphere and collegial support found at the club translate into returning members staying with the sport – and Viking
John Holland, M.D. (1916-2004)
Our founder, the late “Doc” Holland had a dream. To have a fully functional boathouse where everyone of all ages can enjoy the sport of rowing. His mission was “to get an oar into the hands of anyone who wants to try”, and Viking Rowing has taught over 10,000 youngsters and adults how to row in the past 50 years.
Viking Rowing Foundation Inc., is a non-profit organization composed of volunteers inspired by the late Doctor Holland. His purpose has continued over the last 50 years to encourage the sport of rowing for participants without regard to age, gender, background, or affiliation of any kind. Under Doctor Holland’s leadership, the Foundation encouraged a summer youth program, master’s competitions for older oarsmen, including men and women, sponsored high school competitions and houses the crews of Holy Spirit High School, Mainland High School, Egg Harbor Township High School, Our Lady of Mercy Academy and The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and furthered the education of thousands of young women and men over the years.
THIS TRADITION CONTINUES. IN HONOR OF OUR FOUNDER, OUR MENTOR, OUR LEADER AND ESPECIALLY OUR FRIEND. DOCTOR JOHN W. HOLLAND. Because of you, “Doc” EVERYONE who wants to row, will have a place in our boathouse.