JU set to dedicate Negaard Rowing Center on Saturday

Oct. 12, 2007

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After celebrating its 50 year anniversary, the Jacksonville University rowing program will kick off its 2007-08 season in prime fashion with its annual Alumni Race at 8 a.m., followed by the official dedication of the Negaard Rowing Center at 10 a.m., this Saturday.

The rowing program and Jacksonville University will honor Brad and Annette Negaard, who were instrumental in the development of the $3 million project, expanding the original Russell Boat House to four times its size.

"Jacksonville University is not only proud to name the rowing center after the Negaard family, but is thrilled to have the opportunity to recognize a family that has been instrumental in achieving national recognition for JU," said JU president Dr. Kerry Romesburg. "Their dedication to see the program reach higher levels is infectious, and is a great example of what our alumni mean to the University."

The JU Rowing Center, a two-story facility, features 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 also has a multi-purpose room overlooking the St. John's River which is the home of the JU Athletics Hall of Fame.

Not only will the facility serve a major purpose at JU, but members of the community with disabilities can now row on the St. Johns River with the opening of the Brooks Adaptive Rowing Program on campus. The program will be a major fixture at the new facility after a partnership between Brooks, JU and the City of Jacksonville.

"As a facility, the Negaard Rowing Center will help our students to become more successful competitors," said JU head coach Jim Mitchell. "But as a symbol of the efforts put forth by one family, it is a symbol of how they can be successful at everything they do in life. The Negaards have provided these kinds of opportunities for JU rowers for many years and there is no better gift a family could give to a program or a university."

Brad, who graduated from JU in 1976, began rowing with the Dolphins in 1972 and went on to win three consecutive Dad Vail National Pair Championships from 1973-75. After graduation, he competed and placed fifth in the Olympic Trials in 1976 and placed second at the US Team Trials in 1979.

Brad continued to be involved with the JU Rowing Program by becoming the Volunteer Head Coach from 1976-88. In 1987, with family and business growing, he coached a Puerto Rican National Crew at the 1987 Summer Pan American Games and finished the year with a JU contingent representing the USA at the Festival of the Oars in Egypt. During the trip to Egypt, he decided he should concentrate on fundraising enough money each year to hire the first full time coach.

Along with Brad, the Negaard family has competed or is currently competing for JU the rowing program today. Annette was a 1980 graduate of JU and competed with the program during that time before serving as a manager until 1987. Their sons, Stefan (junior) and Erich (sophomore) are currently members of the program. Brad's sister, Kristen, was a coxswain for the Men's 4+ and stroked the Women's Varsity 4+ before receiving the first JU rowing scholarship in 1978. Brad's parents, Robert and Shirlee, were also strong supporters of the program, especially during the 1970's and 80's.

The Negaard Family, which was honored by JU in 1988 with the Distinguished Service Award, will now see the final step in their dream for a new rowing facility after nearly 10 years.

"The Negaard family has meant so much to the rowing program at JU over the years and the vision of Brad and Annette, along with their dedication to build this facility, makes it only fitting to name the rowing center in their honor," said JU director of athletics Alan Verlander. "The Negaard family has been the back bone of the rowing program for many years and with this facility, they have guided JU into a new era with the potential for unmatched success."