Donation helps fund new crew boathouse

Posted by Andrew Cantor

The college crew team is closer to receiving a new boathouse after a recent graduate's family donated $ 750,000 toward the capital project in February.

Construction will begin on the new boathouse once the college raises $1.5 million more to cover an estimated $2.2 million building cost.

The current boathouse, located about six miles east of campus on the north bank of Fish Creek, houses the men and women's crew teams, as well as the Skidmore Community Rowing team.

The new boathouse will be built on the same site as the old one.

Architectural plans include changing rooms, bathrooms, a meeting room, a workout room, more boat space and insulation.

Jim Tucci, coach of the men and women's crew teams, said conditions in the current boathouse hinder rowers' training and morale.

"The conditions now are Spartan," Tucci said "It's essentially a glorified garage. It can be uncomfortable because it's always cold, and not a good place to warm up. There's no meeting room or large-enough workout facility. As a result training is less efficient."

The co-captains of both college teams agreed.

"There's just not enough room for everything," Korina Burgio '11, co-captain of the women's team, said. "It houses a lot of rowers now, and it's uncomfortable."

"The boathouse is cold and difficult to practice in. We sometimes have to come back to campus to train […] A new boathouse would make everything much more efficient," Jacob Boersma, co-captain of the men's team said.

Gail Cummings-Danson, director of athletics, said the department has considered a new boathouse for almost four years.

Cummings-Danson also said the team is anxious to receive the better facility.

"We have a lot of buildings to be proud of on campus… we have some signature pieces, if you will. Quite frankly, this isn't the case for the boathouse," Cummings-Danson said. "Fish Creek hosts a high school invitational every year. Rowers go by and must think ‘Oh yeah, that's Skidmore's.' It doesn't represent our program well."

Patrick Babbitt '14, a first-year rower, will likely experience the new facility and believes a new heating system will make training easier.

"The boathouse is very cold at 6 or 7 a.m. in the late fall or early winter," Babbitt said. "I can imagine going out or returning from a row would be more enjoyable from the relative warmth of a new boathouse. It would make our work on the water just a little bit easier."

The $750,000 donation comes from Martha Valentine '09's family.

Valentine rowed at the college and now coaches crew at the University of Cincinnati.

"Rowing was one of the best experiences I had at Skidmore. I only rowed for two years, but it was the best," Valentine said. "My parents valued the time I had, and decided to donate to the athletic program."

Cummings-Danson believes the team will ultimately grow and improve with a new boathouse.

"I think it will attract both Skidmore students and some great high school prospects," Cummings-Danson said. "But now, if you're a prospective rower, you see the boathouse once and maybe you wont want to go back."

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