Renovated Friends of Dartmouth Rowing Boathouse dedicated

by Olivia Morton | 9/30/19 2:05am

On a bright Saturday morning after tough races against Yale University and Boston University, the rowing community at Dartmouth gathered for the dedication of a newly-improved team facility: the Friends of Dartmouth Rowing Boathouse. Presided over by Dartmouth’s director of athletics, Harry Sheehy, the ceremony was centered around appreciation for those alumni who built the program and made these renovations possible, as well as the opportunities it opens for the future leaders of Dartmouth rowing. 

Sheehy, who identified the facility as a game-changer, spoke to the importance of leadership at Dartmouth. He emphasized that sports at the College are not an extracurricular but co-curricular, stretching and molding Dartmouth student-athletes into the best versions of themselves, inside both academic and athletic classrooms. 

John Replogle ’88 took the stage next and continued to emphasize Dartmouth’s dedication to growing leaders, while honoring his father, a member of the Class of 1953 and the rowing program. Replogle highlighted the strength and leadership that Dartmouth rowers exude, and showcased his belief that the new facility will only contribute to this fortitude. Replogle preached Dartmouth’s commitment to “the whole student,” and ended his remarks with an — albeit slightly modified — quote attributed to legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson. 

“There’s more to life than rowing, but fortunately there’s more to rowing than just rowing,” Replogle said. 

Replogle highlighted what he called the strength and leadership that Dartmouth rowers exude, and showcased his belief that the new facility will only contribute to this fortitude. 

Men’s heavyweight coach Wyatt Allen then took to the stage to thank the College and the alumni for their support of the rowing program. As the new renovations include erg tanks installed by the world’s best tank builder, the team can now have exposure to more technical training year round; in addition, there are also a variety of new types of ergs and more training space, which allows for more creativity and flexibility in training.

All three teams — men’s heavyweight, men’s lightweight and women’s rowing — will be able to train at once rather than one team being relegated to what the rowers fondly call “the dungeon,” located underneath Alumni Gymnasium, which will aid the growth of the team as student-athletes, as practices will be more effective and allow for better time management. 

“It is the crowning achievement of the Friends of Dartmouth Rowing,” Allen said. “The collective vision and generosity has helped to create a world-class training facility.”

The final two speakers of the ceremony were Katie Erdos ’20, captain and coxswain of the women’s team, and Andre Hunter ’83, chair of the Friends of Dartmouth Rowing. On behalf of the entire team, Erdos thanked the alumni for setting the bar high and giving the current rowers the inspiration and aspiration to do the same. She closed stating that the team would all do their best to make the alumni proud and showcase their appreciation for both the physical and mental examples which they set. Hunter, aware that he was the only person standing between a herd of tired, hungry rowers and lunch, made his remarks short, repeating praise to alumni for making the new boathouse possible.

After almost 12 months of construction, the facility is very close to opening for use. Construction is set to be fully complete in November. As of now, teams will be able to use the lobby as a social space; once the Hanover winter hits, however, access to the new ergs and training facility will be made available so that they might keep up with the training schedules of other schools while the Connecticut River is frozen over. 

The $7.5 million expansion and renovation, made possible entirely through donor gifts, will update the boathouse’s training equipment, including new ergometers and rowing tanks, as well as upgrading ventilation and other necessary smaller improvements. The two moving water rowing tanks will simulate rowing on the river, and allows the team to use oars with blades of a similar size and shape to those they would use while competing. 

“It will be extremely useful to use it all winter long,” Rebecca Thomson ’20 said.

Liam Keane ’21, a member of the men’s heavyweight team, expressed similar sentiments about how important the facility is especially given the harsh New Hampshire climate.

“The new facility will give us the opportunity and support we need to push to the next level we aspire to be at,” Keane said. “With the river being frozen for so long into our season, the new tanks will help us stay fit and ready for racing on the water.”

An additional benefit to the new facility is that it will help shape the future of the program.

“They will show future recruits that we have a world class boathouse and that our alums have our backs,” Keane said. “They want to see us succeed and bring Dartmouth rowing to a new level, and we are pumped to push into that next level.”

Thomson has been interacting with alumni throughout the fundraising and building process, and she said she has been amazed with the devotion they have to the program.

“They are always so excited to be back in the boathouse, talk to anyone, tell them about the experience they had and how wonderful of a time they had at Dartmouth,” Thomson said. “It’s really special to be able to talk to them and understand their experience.”