By Amy Rudolph
The new Hodson Boathouse has been years in the making, said President Kurt Landgraf. On Sept. 13, they finally broke ground.
The charge for a new boathouse started during the tenure of former Director of Athletics John Wagner. In 1983, the Hodson Trust donated funds to create the Lelia Hynson Boating Park and Pavilion on the grounds surrounding the Truslow Boathouse. Nearly three decades later, half of the starting funds for the $5 million, 11,000 sq. ft. Hodson Boathouse were donated by the Hodson Trust.
According to a WC press release, the Hodson Boathouse is scheduled to open in spring 2018.
Amongst those present at the groundbreaking were President Landgraf, Class of 1997 alumnus and Board of Visitors and Governors member Regis de Ramel, Women’s Rowing Coach Karin Hughes, Director of Athletics Thad Moore, and senior Maura Matthews, a member of the sailing team. De Ramel, who was a member of the men’s rowing team, co-chaired the campaign for the boathouse project.
According to a College press release, Ramel said, “Over the years, the WC rowing and sailing teams have grown both in size and competitiveness, but without comparable improvements to their facility. It was high time we built the athletes a facility that reflects their talents and rewards the coaches for their commitment.”
The new boathouse will allow the College to host regattas and draw attention to the men and women’s rowing and sailing teams. The women’s rowing team, under the leadership of Hughes, has won the Mid Atlantic Rowing Conference Championship for five consecutive years and has competed in the NCAA Rowing Division Three Rowing Championship.
Hughes said that the boathouse is not only a place to store the boats, but a place for teams to meet and bond. The addition of new locker rooms will aid in that goal.
“A locker room is a varsity team’s home. … A locker room says to each athlete, ‘You are important, you are cared for, you are a varsity athlete,'” she said.
Matthews said her own experience in the Truslow Boathouse strengthened her relationship with her teammates.
“Throughout [my] days spent at the boathouse, I’ve made many memories and friends that will last a lifetime,” she said.
The boathouse will also provide student athletes with new rowing tanks that will allow novices to perfect their technique. There will be an erg, or rowing machine, room in which athletes will train “shoulder to shoulder with their teammates,” Hughes said.
While the new boathouse will be the main attraction at the waterfront, the Truslow Boathouse will be repurposed as a student meeting area and will house recreational watercrafts such as kayaks and paddleboards, said Waterfront Director Ben Armiger. He said he is also toying with the idea of having an automotive shop in the boathouse to allow students to work on personal boats and even cars.
Part of Armiger’s goal is to get all WC students to appreciate the river and get them to participate in events.
“I think that every student at WC should have a general idea of how to sail a boat. They should all know this river and [have] been on it, and it should be somehow part of their College experience so that when they come back they can say, ‘Oh yeah, the Chester River, I know that,’” Armiger said.
The new boathouse and academic building, the Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall, will both be constructed in the same fashion with a very natural feel, according to Armiger.