The University of Oklahoma Athletics Department, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Programs and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione and Head Rowing Coach Leeanne Crain announced the approval of and schedule for the construction of the Oklahoma Rowing Training Center, a state-of-the-art on-campus practice facility for OU's rowing program.
The project, recommended by President David Boren, was approved by the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents at their January 2013 meeting. This $6.5 million, 24,000-square foot facility represents the latest addition to an impressive list of infrastructure additions and improvements by OU Athletics on the Oklahoma campus. Current project plans call for groundbreaking to commence in March with an anticipated completion in the spring of 2014.
"The rowing training center reflects the University of Oklahoma's continuing commitment to providing all of our student-athletes with all of the resources and support necessary to excel at the highest level," Castiglione said. "Coach Crain and her staff are thrilled about our shared vision for developing one of the finest on-campus rowing facilities of its kind in the nation. The support of our President and Board of Regents to this development of resources for our student-athletes is essential and greatly appreciated. This project is another illustration of our comprehensive plan to ensure that the University of Oklahoma remains at the forefront of leadership and innovation in collegiate athletics."
The new venue, one of just several on-campus rowing training facilities in the country will be located south of the rugby and soccer fields on the south side of Blankenship Boulevard. The team's on-campus training has been at Memorial Stadium since the program's inception in 2008-09.
"We are grateful to the Board of Regents, President Boren, Joe Castiglione, the administration and everyone involved in making this project a reality," Crain said. "This is an exciting development in the growth of the program. It will be one of the premier on-campus training centers in the country and will provide us with a strong competitive edge in training our student-athletes."
The building will house a state-of-the-art, 16-seat "moving water" rowing tank, used to simulate on-the-water training indoors. The facility will also feature a 2,740-square foot workout area, sports medicine and hydrotherapy room, team room and locker room in addition to office and meeting spaces and storage and laundry areas.
The facility will give the team a place to train when they aren't practicing on the water at Oklahoma City's Boathouse District on the Oklahoma River.
Outside of organized team practices, the training center will give student-athletes the opportunity to practice and continue to improve in an individual setting away from the water.
"The administration gave us the confidence that they know we can achieve great things and give us the facilities to do so, it's just awesome," senior Nikki Furmanek said. "Being a student-athlete here at OU is unbelievable. They have your back 100%, they want you to do well and they'll do anything they can to give you that competitive edge. I really think this facility will give us that edge and take us to the next level. There's no doubt in my mind that this team will go so far in the next few years."
Rowing, in its fifth season as a varsity sport, is the largest women's team at OU. The sport has been sanctioned by the NCAA since 1997, and is one of the fastest growing collegiate sports.
The Sooners open the 2013 season on March 9-10 when they host the fourth-annual OU Invitational on the Oklahoma River. The spring schedule features races against top teams from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12 and SEC.