The Temple University Rowing Teams have been without a boathouse since the East Park Canoe House was condemned by the city of Philadelphia in January 2008. This upcoming spring, the rowing teams will make their triumphant return to the boathouse.
Temple University rowing teams have called this boathouse theirs since 1967, exactly fifty years ago. But for the last eight years, the teams have been working out of tents along Kelly Drive due to the condemned status of the facility.
In July of 2015, the city of Philadelphia alongside Gerry Lenfest of the Lenfest Foundation donated $5.5 million to renovate the historic boathouse. The East Park Canoe House is on the National Registry of Historic Places, meaning the boathouse must be restored to the way it was built originally a century ago.
Both the Temple Women’s Rowing team and Temple Men’s Crew team moved their boats into the boathouse for the first time since 2008 just before Thanksgiving break.
This will be many of the team members’ first time in a boathouse and for the seniors on the team, it will be their first and final time in the beloved boathouse.
“You get into the grind and [the boathouse] kind of gives a new momentum and a new life to the last season that they’ve got, the last winter, to get really excited to work hard so when we do race out of this boathouse this spring, we’re ready to have the best season we’ve ever had,” said Temple Women’s Rowing Coach Rebecca Grzybowski about the seniors staring down their first and final season in the canoe house.
However, both the teams think that their time in the tents have only made their teams more gritty and edgy.
“Rowers in general, are pretty gritty people, and then being Temple rowers, I think we have a bit of an extra special grit to us, and I think the facility that we were currently in – the tents – definitely sort of brought that out,” said Coach Grzybowski. “There is a kind of pride to it, and you can sort of dwell on what you don’t have or you can look at what you do have and come at it from we have everything we need to be successful.”
Men’s Crew Coach Brian Perkins has been involved with recruiting for a few years now and said that he knew he had the right team after the boys did not complain through the adversity they faced in the tents. He’s excited to introduce his men to a quality boathouse.
“These are quality athletes, they’d visit other colleges and they’d see their boathouses, then they would come to Temple and they’d see the tents, they look at the gravel and the ground and say ‘You know what? This is where I belong.'” said Coach Perkins. “I said I know we have the right guys.”