After going without a boathouse for three years, the crew teams will have a new one.
The crew team’s former facility, East Park Canoe House in Fairmount Park, was condemned in January 2008. Without a stable facility, teams practiced out of tents near a plowed portion of land near the canoe club. President Ann Weaver Hart recently announced the crew teams will be receiving a new boathouse.
Both the men’s and women’s crew teams were operating out of two tents and are already on their second set, the men’s team’s head coach, Gavin White Jr. said in an e-mail.
However, to the seniors on the team, the tents were an upgrade from their original boathouse.
“There were holes in the ceiling that would allow rain through during a storm,” Nicholas Contino, a senior communications and theater major, said in an e-mail. “We could have an occasional bum make themselves at home in our ‘locker room.’”
“The failing masonry, bent support beams and infestation of asbestos were some of the things the inspectors found when they decided to condemn the building,” Contino added.
The first set of tents collapsed and damaged the team’s equipment.
The second collapse occurred during last year’s snow storm.
“The weight of the collected snow was heavy enough to collapse the tent poles that held up the roof,” Contino said. “The poles bent in and through several of our boats, including our newest boat.”
“The need for the facility is dire for the crew teams,” said Scott Koskoski, the associate director of athletics for development. “They comprise a significant portion of our student athletes at Temple and they haven’t had a roof over their heads for quite some time. While they’ve been making due with canvas tents, it’s not really Temple’s best foot forward, and we’re trying to change that.”
“We currently have no running water, no plumbing and no electricity,” White said. “The tents are solid now but are continuously susceptible to flooding and break-ins. The new rowing center is long overdue. We’ve been in need of a new structure for over 20 years.”
The rowing center would grant the teams a safe place to store its boats and equipment, as well as provide basic amenities such as heat and bathrooms. Koskoski added that the boathouse would also boost the morale of the crew teams.
“These young student-athletes that are representing Temple in competitions throughout the country and deserve a training facility comparable to that of other Division I rowing programs,” White said.
Koskoski said the new facility would benefit more than the current team members.
“The boathouse would provide a recruiting advantage in obtaining students that were interested in our teams,” Koskoski said. “It’s hard to sell a bright student athlete with canvas tents when they’ve visited other places with great facilities.”
“Not many rowers want to row out of tents if they can go somewhere else with a big, beautiful boathouse. I think that we are the only team on the Schuylkill to not have a boathouse,” Richard Ehmer, a crew member and a sophomore communications major, said in an e-mail. “In the last two years we have only gotten six or seven freshman rowers which is not enough for an eight-man boat.”
Currently, Temple is working with Philadelphia officials to acquire land along the Schuylkill River and with the athletic department to determine funding, Koskoski said.
White said the new facility will give the teams, “dignity, pride and a whole lot less mud in their cars.”
Alyssa Saylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.