Tess Durant and Steve Hitchcock are the founders of the Stanton and the River Bank Crews (now First Coast Rowing Club) and served as co-head coaches and sponsors of the rowing program until 2015. Both are retired biology teachers from Stanton College Preparatory School.
Steve Hitchcock rowed for Jacksonville University and in 1971 returned as its Head Coach. The following year, he founded the JU women’s rowing program while also coaching the JU Men's Crew to its first Dad Vail Championship.
Tess Durant, who graduated with high honors from the University of Pennsylvania, was a biology teacher at Stanton when her daughter, Phoebe Durant Shen ’91, asked Tess if Stanton could start a crew. Phoebe had taken a community rowing class at JU and became enthralled. At that time, Stanton had no athletic teams except cheerleading.
Together Steve Hitchcock and Tess Durant led this club to great success. Among their numerous achievements: in 1995 they coached the Girl's Varsity Eight to a gold medal at the Florida Scholastic State Championships, followed the next month by another gold medal win at the USRowing Nationals on the Olympic Course at Lake Lanier, Gainesville, GA. In 2000 they coached the Girl's Varsity Eight to a 1st place finish in the junior category at the Head of the Charles. At the 2007 Head of the Charles they coached our top sculler to a 2nd place finish in the Men's Junior Single category.
Among their many successes: their crews earned Bronze at Scholastic Nationals in the Girls' Senior Double, the Boys' Midweight Four, the Girls' Junior Four, and the Girls' Senior Eight; Silver in the Girls' Junior Single, the Girls' Junior Double, the Girls' Senior Four, the Boys' Senior Four, and the Girls' Senior Eight; and Gold in the Girls' Senior Double, the Girls' Junior Four, and the Boys' Senior Four. They have coached the Girls' Double to bronze medal wins twice at the USRowing Youth Invitational. Our girls' and boys' eights have both been in the finals at their prestigious regatta. One of our rowers stroked the Girl's Junior National Team to its first Junior World Championship gold meal, and several other of our rowers have been on the U.S. Junior National Team. Coaches Steve and Tess have created an impressive legacy of success.