Emily Dorrance '93 and Julie Pett-Ridge '93

WT’s Crew Pioneers

From the time Emily Dorrance and Julie Pett-Ridge were introduced to rowing, they were determined to share the joy of Crew with others. Dorrance and Pett-Ridge began rowing with the Allegheny River Rowing Club in 1989, during their freshman year at WT. In the words of David Curry, who nominated Dorrance and Pett-Ridge, “Their enthusiasm for the sport inspired their teammates to learn and achieve ever-higher levels of performance as their skills and conditioning improved.” They could not help but share their love of rowing with the WT community.

Dorrance convinced WT to launch a Crew program during their freshman year. Dorrance and Pett-Ridge’s dedication to Crew laid the foundation for the program that exists today, and this is perhaps their greatest contribution to WT athletics.

Rowing to Victory for dear old WT

Together these Bears competed throughout Upper School, rowing to victory at major competitions. In 1992, they captured a first place victory in the Youth Doubles Women’s Division at the Thomas Eakins Head of the Schuylkill Regatta in Philadelphia. Dorrance and Pett-Ridge also rowed to a fourth place at the 1993 Junior National Rowing Championships in Indianapolis. WT recognized their Crew talents, naming Dorrance and Pett-Ridge the 1993 Athletes of the Year.

They continued their legacy as successful Crew competitors and leaders during college. In addition, Dorrance and Pett-Ridge continued to share their love of Crew with others by serving as volunteer rowing instructors for inner-city students and a program for blind athletes at Three Rivers Rowing Association.

Sadly, Dorrance passed away from cancer in 1998. She is remembered by her WT friends, classmates, former teachers, and others as a shining example of kindness and community spirit; in 2008, the Emily Dorrance Award was established, honoring a graduating senior who most exemplifies the school credo, “Think also of the comfort and the rights of others.”

WT and the Greater Pittsburgh community will forever be indebted to Dorrance and Pett-Ridge for their determination to enrich others’ lives with rowing.