The women’s rowing team is hours away from the start of one of the largest two-day rowing competition in the world.
The 50th annual Head of the Charles Regatta will begin on Saturday as more than 11,000 rowers will be competing on a three-mile course on the Charles River in Boston. Participating athletes will range from youth to senior citizens, and novices to those with Olympic experience.
Among Temple’s 49 rowers on the roster, only 19 of them will be representing Temple in three boats. Coach Rebecca Grzybowski said several elements went into choosing who will be going to the regatta, including experience and conditioning.
The women in Club 8+ are junior Kelsey Franks (coxswain) junior Emilie Mehler (seat 8), junior Emily Opperman (seat 7), senior Moira Meekes (seat 6), junior Callie DiGuardia (seat 5), sophomore Jenna Bahel (seat 4), freshman Charlie Forman (seat 3), sophomore Lea Millio (seat 2) and sophomore Kaitlin Grisanti (seat 1).
In the Club 4+ (A) boat are sophomore Ellie Oken (coxswain), junior Lily Papaleo (seat 4), junior Emily Leyland (seat 3), senior Annie Buckley (seat 2) and senior Kathy Bostion (seat 1).
In the Club 4+ (B) boat are senior Erin Matz (coxswain), senior Kayla Dorney (seat 4), senior Gina Inverso (seat 3), junior Grace Kroner (seat 2) and freshman Danielle White (seat 1).
The competition begins on Saturday at 8 a.m. and can be watched online here.
Temple will enter into a 20-year sublease agreement with the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development to renovate the East Park Canoe House, where the crew and rowing teams store boats.
The Board of Trustees’ general body approved the decision at a Tuesday meeting in Sullivan Hall on Main Campus.
The university expects the project to cost $5.5 million, $2.5 million of which will come from the City of Philadelphia. H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest donated the remaining $3 million in February, which coincided with the city’s initial announcement of the renovation.
The expense report for the project, a part of the public agenda from the meeting, was signed by President Theobald on Sept. 17.
The lease for the Boathouse Row property includes two 10-year renewal options and would require Temple to provide and maintain public restrooms on the property.
Alyssa O’Donnell will be the newest addition to the women’s rowing coaching staff, serving as an assistant coach, it was announced Monday.
O’Donnell arrives to the program with a wealth of experience. This past summer, O’Donnell was the coach of the Vesper Boat Club Junior Women’s summer program on the Schuylkill River.
Prior to that, O’Donnell spent last two seasons as the assistant coach of the Grand Valley State University rowing team, for which she earned much of her success. She helped to coach the varsity and junior varsity teams to bronze medals at the Dad Vail Regatta, while her team later swept the varsity events at the American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championship in May.
In the 2012-2013 season, O’Donnell highlighted her coaching career as she assisted her varsity eight team to a gold-medal performance and in turn winning the Women’s Point Trophy at the Dad Vail Regatta. That summer, O’Donnell had the opportunity in coach her team through to the final of the Women’s Henley Regatta in the England.
In addition to O’Donnell, last year’s coaches, Mariana Folco and Taylor Wasserleben, will also accompany Rebecca Grzybowski on the coaching staff.
A little more than five months passed since the crew and rowing teams were set to get the ax this summer along with five additional university varsity sports, the two squads are close to settling into a new home.
The City Planning Commission unanimously approved a February plan to invest $5.5 million for renovations on the East Park Canoe House on Tuesday, and have the Temple crew and rowing teams lease out the site, per an NBC 10 report.
Philadelphia is infusing $2.5 million into the renovation, while Temple trustee and new Philadelphia Inquirer owner Gerry Lenfest donated the remaining $3 million.
February’s unprecedented reversal of the decision to cut the crew and rowing teams turned around a series of trying events for both squads, which included the city’s decision to condemn the Canoe House in 2008 and culminated in December’s initial decision to cut both programs.
Tuesday’s approval brought the process one step closer to finalization, as the plan will go to City Council for final approval.
Before the novices put their oars in the water on Sunday, they celebrated in the form of a talent show on Mercer Lake in New Jersey.
The Owls had a lot to be happy about as they made the grand finals in their first appearance at the Knecht Cup.
Among the 28 teams that competed in Novice 4 races over the weekend, the Owls finished sixth overall, behind conference rivals Southern Methodist and Tulsa, in Sunday’s grand finals with a time of 8:41 seconds.
Led by coxswain Nicole Barth, the third Varsity 8 boat also placed sixth overall in Sunday’s grand finals.
In the Novice 8 boat, the Owls crossed the finish line in fourth place in a time of 7:34.
In a final that featured some of Philadelphia’s own rowing teams, the Varsity 4 boat secured a third place finish in the petite finals behind Drexel and Villanova but just ahead of Philadelphia University in a time of 8:12.
Although coach Rebecca Grzybowski said the Varsity 8 boats were disappointed in their performance over the weekend, the Varsity 8 “A” boat rowed to a fifth place finish in the third finals, while the second Varsity 8 boat placed fourth in the third finals on Sunday.
The Owls will next compete against Bucknell, West Virginia and Buffalo on Saturday in Lewisberry, Pa.
Beginning in 2014-2015 season, Sacramento State and San Diego State women’s rowing programs will join the American Athletic Conference.
Temple’s women’s rowing coach Rebecca Grzybowski said it only benefits the conference with both teams coming into The American. The conference currently has five rowing programs – Central Florida, Southern Methodist, Tulsa, Connecticut and Temple. Now by adding two more programs to The American, Grzybowski said by winning the conference championship, a team will automatically qualify for the NCAA. This could only be granted to a conference with a minimum of six teams.
Sacramento State will come into the conference with the most success, winning two Dad Vail varsity 8 titles in 2004 and 2010. As a result, Grzybowski said the level of competitiveness and urgency will increase, as Temple will rarely race against the two teams until the conference championship since they are on the west coast.
Sacramento State and San Diego State are currently members of Conference USA.
Margaret Meigs of the Schuylkill Navy has penned an open letter on Temple’s recent cuts to the sports department that included the men’s crew and women’s rowing teams:
We are shocked and saddened by Temple University’s decision to drop rowing from its sports programs. Temple men’s and women’s crew have an illustrious competitive history with the men winning an unprecedented 20 championship titles at the Dad Vail Regatta here on the Schuylkill.
We stand in support of Coach Gavin White and Coach Rebecca Grzybowski and, especially, the student athletes whose very last season may suddenly and unexpectedly be upon them.
Announced in 2012, Temple’s initiative to build a new boathouse on the east bank of the Schuylkill and, as part of the proposal, to fund a substantial portion of the renovation of the Canoe House, was a hopeful and welcome sign to the rowing community that Temple’s program continued to be a strong one.
The Schuylkill Navy supports all efforts to work with the University to reconsider this decision and to ensure that Temple boats continue their presence on the Schuylkill and rowing venues everywhere.