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The front of the U's new boathouse prior to the grand opening celebration

The U's new $4.6 million boathouse sits in East River Flats Park on the bank of the Mississippi. And it was recently adorned with it first Big Ten Championship banner.

U celebrates new boathouse with grand opening

By Rick Moore

May 4, 2007

Perhaps it was fitting that a steady, chilly rain fell as the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) dedicated the new boathouse for the U rowing teams on Friday, May 4.

Because when the short ceremony ended, everyone--including special guests and athletes--was able to go inside to warm up. In addition to warmth, the new facility offers locker rooms, working space, and state-of-the-art training facilities for both the women's varsity team and the men's club team.

The boathouse has an erg room (for the rowing machines) and a tank room for winter training purposes, laundry services, and coaches' offices. The rowing teams moved into the boathouse in January with the use of the locker room and the erg room. On February 16 the boats were relocated from the tent where they'd been housed to the boathouse storage unit.

The last completion to the boathouse came in late February when the rowing tanks were installed. The facility rests on a half of an acre on the bank of the Mississippi River in East River Flats Park.

Friday's grand opening program was emceed by Regina Sullivan, senior associate athletics director, and featured remarks by several speakers, including athletics director Joel Maturi, Kathy Brown from the president's office, director of recreational sports Jim Turman, and Walt Dziedzic from the Minneapolis Parks and Recreational board member.

As part of its agreement to build the boathouse on that parcel of land, the University is joining with the MPRB to provide programming and other opportunities to community members. Programming will include youth clinics and camps in rowing along with other sports.

The grand opening was followed by a tour of the facility, demonstrations in the erg and tank rooms, and a men's and women's rowing alumni reception.

While everyone was wearing smiles, the student-athletes seemed especially happy to showcase their new building. "I love it," said junior rower Lauren Van Proosdy. "It's wonderful to be able to come off the water and have so much space."

Big Ten champions

On April 28, the Golden Gopher rowing team earned its first-ever Big Ten championship in Madison, Wisconsin, on Lake Wingra.

The Gophers dominated the championship and set a Big Ten Championship record for the most points scored with 150. The Gophers won four of six races and advanced all six boats to the Grand Finals. The Gophers finished with a 33-point advantage over second-place Michigan, which had 117 points. Ohio State rounded out the top three with 103 points. The Golden Gopher rowing program, under head coach Wendy Davis, has excelled every year it has been in competition since the start of it in 2000-01. The Gophers earned their first NCAA appearance berth when they were selected as an at-large team in 2006. Along with competing in their first NCAA championships last year, the Gophers finished second at the Big Ten Championships and won three events.

Barnes and Davis earn honors

Just days after a record-breaking performance by Minnesota at the Big Ten Women's Rowing Championships, the Golden Gophers earned additional postseason honors as Jenny Barnes and head coach Wendy Davis were named Athlete and Coach of the Year, announced by the Big Ten Conference.

Barnes is the first Gopher to earn Athlete of the Year since the award's inception in 2000. Davis earned her second straight Coach of the Year honor; last year, she shared the award with Ohio State's Andy Teitelbaum.

Rowing has become one of the fastest growing sports in Division I athletics. In 1992, 12.6 percent of Division I institutions had rowing as a varsity sport. By 2002, it doubled to 27.2 percent.

The history of the women's rowing program dates back to 1973 when Ron Korpi founded the women's club team. Minnesota was one of the first institutions to offer intercollegiate competition for women. It remained a club sport until 1982 when the team was awarded "Varsity-Club" status. During a time span from 1982-1986, the varsity club captured the lightweight eight championships and qualified for four consecutive national championships. Although the varsity club was discontinued after the 1985-86 season, the club team remained on campus until regaining varsity status in the fall of 2000.

The men's club program was established in 1957 and was founded by Oliver Bogen, Lloyd Ohme, and Dr. Charles Good. Bogen coached the program's first eight years of existence from 1957-1964. Since the program's beginning, the Minnesota men's crew has earned five national IRA Championship titles, including the 2003 men's Open 4+. The men's crew has also garnered 15 Dad Vail Championships and 25 Midwest Regional championships.

This story contains information courtesy of University Athletics. For more information on the rowing team, go to GopherSports.