Rowing kicks off 50th anniversary with new Rowing Center

Sept. 11, 2006

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville University rowing program will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and what better way to kick off the festivities than announcing the construction of a new Rowing Center after a decade of planning.

The $1.1 million project, which will expand the original Russell Boat House to four times its original size, has already started with a projected completion date in the spring of 2007.

"Announcing a new rowing facility at JU is a fantastic way to celebrate our student-athletes and the storied success of our crew program," said JU president Kerry D. Romesburg. "Thanks to our many donors, this river-front facility will be a great asset to the University and the community for many years to come."

Originally built in 1967 to accommodate a men's squad of roughly 30 student-athletes, the Russell Boat House was built to store approximately 10 boats and only featured a men's locker room. With the addition of the women's team in the 1970s, the Boathouse became home to more than 50 athletes which share the locker room area. The Dolphin roster has increased to nearly 90 student-athletes in the past three years and a new facility is needed to support the rapid growth and success of both the men's and women's programs.

"The renovation of the Russell Boat House and the addition of the new rowing center will vault our men's and women's programs to the next level," said JU head coach Jim Mitchell. "The squad size at JU has more than doubled in the three years I've been here and we've suffered some growing pains due to the limitations of the current structure. This new state- of-the-art training facility will alleviate those problems and allow us to continue to become more competitive.

"The rowing center will certainly be attractive to high school students who want to continue their rowing career at the collegiate level. To have a facility of this magnitude on campus is definitely an asset to our program."

The JU Rowing Center, which will be a two-story facility, will feature a storage bay for nearly 20 boats, locker rooms for both the men's and women's squad, two offices for the JU coaching staff (including offices for coxswains), a video room and a student-athlete lounge. The facility will have a multi- purpose room overlooking the St. John's River for ergonomic workouts, meetings and campus functions to go along with a screened porch area.

"For the past 50 years, the rowing program has been quietly teaching JU students to be their best, honing their skills of competition, creating champions on the water and training men and women to be winners in their careers," said JU rowing alumnus Brad Negaard, who led the fund raising campaign for the rowing center. "The new JU Rowing Center will support and strengthen the men's and women's current programs like never before.

"The center will provide the student-athletes with a destination where they can study in a relaxed environment, socialize in the game room, review video tapes or just meditate and enjoy friends on the upstairs screened balcony. To top the facility off, the rowing student-athletes will have a picturesque view while training on one of the 32 rowing machines."

The Dolphins will continue the 50th anniversary celebration by hosting their annual Alumni Race during Homecoming morning on Oct. 14. JU alumni from every decade will be making their way to the St. John's River as they compete against the current Dolphin squads.