In the spring of 1966, rowing was introduced as a new sport at Ridley. On a suggestion from the Headmaster, Old Boy Neil Campbell—who was still personally involved in rowing at the national level—was approached to help coach this newly developing sport.
Campbell represented Canada as an oarsman and coach at four Olympic Games: Tokyo 1964, Mexico City 1968, Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988. He also stroked the St. Catharines Olympic Eight to victory in the 86th Canadian Henley Regatta in 1968.
In the first season of Ridley rowing, only students in Grades 10 and 11 were permitted to row and of them, 20 were selected to participate. By the fifth season in 1970, they were up to 40 rowers. Campbell coached his crews to success, destined to be idolized by Ridley's rowing community in the years to come—he was unique in the history of high school rowing. He died in 2006.