Published: May 14, 2023

‘Dr. B’

Fox Chapel Crew christens boat to honor founder


Fox Chapel Crew recently added a new boat to its fleet in memory of beloved founder and longtime coach Dr. Mark Bellinger.

The “Dr. B,” a four-person sculling shell, made its debut in the Pittsburgh Scholastic Sprints on April 29 and will travel with the team to the Midwest Scholastic Rowing Championships May 13-14 in Milford, Michigan.

Dr. Bellinger, a retired pediatric urologist, died on Feb. 9, 2022, at age 73 from cancer.

He created the nonprofit club in the spring of 1995 at Fox Chapel Area High School with eight girls and five boys on the roster. It has since grown to include 50 members.

During a commissioning ceremony April 22 in Aspinwall, crew members watched as his wife, Kathy, poured champagne over the boat’s bow for good luck.

Her grandson, Rylan Morgan, an assistant coach, poured water from the Allegheny River over the boat to symbolize the river’s headwaters. He said every time he sees the boat, it reminds him how proud he is to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps.

Deb Morgan said the “Dr. B” is a wonderful reminder of her father’s legacy.

“We hope it helps to bring some closure,” she said. “We hope the new boat will remind the coaches and athletes of Fox Chapel that Dr. B. will always live in their hearts and memories, and he would be proud of them.”

It is the second shell to be named in Dr. Bellinger’s honor. An eight was damaged in 2020 while a trailer was being moved.

The bow from the first “Dr. B” is still in the boathouse and was brought out for the commissioning ceremony. The rest of the boat was repurposed into training boxes for new rowers.

“Having a new ‘Dr. B’ in the boathouse will serve to remind returning alumni about the original boat and the man, while also helping to keep his memory and the impact he had on this team alive for our new athletes who never had the chance to know him,” said men’s coach Stephanie Meinert.

She noted that donations made in Dr. Bellinger’s memory were used to purchase it.

Team captains Rachel Milcheck and Blaz Vavpetic agreed it is a fitting tribute.

“Whenever I see it, I think of Dr. B and how he helped bring the sport of rowing into my life,” said Milcheck, a Fox Chapel junior. “This team has become so important to me and it all goes back to Dr. B.”

Vavpetic, a senior, said rowing in the boat makes him feel as though Dr. Bellinger is back on the water, “pushing us past our limits to row harder and to improve.”