BY JAKE KRZECZOWSKI | MAY 01, 2009 7:28 AM
Imagine Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz not having a football field or locker rooms to show recruits when he brings them on campus. Right now, this is the case for the No. 17 Iowa rowing team.
With no locker rooms, showers, or even a restroom to its name, recruiting has been more of a chore than an opportunity, at least until now.
In August, the Hawkeyes will receive a new home on the banks of the Iowa River. Along with the expected upgrades of restrooms and showers, the team will enjoy a rowing machine room, a medical training room, and a meeting space, along with the biggest prize: a state-of-the-art rowing tank.
“The tank will have moving water that can be set at different speeds; it was modeled after several others that exist throughout the country,” said Sloane Tyler, an associate director for athletics development for the UI Foundation.
The tank was enhanced by the UI Hydraulics Lab, making it the best tank ever built, something the Hawkeyes will need in the frosty winter months when rowing outside isn’t an option.
The amenities will move Iowa into a whole new game as far as recruiting is concerned.
“Having these new things makes a statement,” Iowa head coach Mandi Kowal said. “Athletes are going to have something to be proud of.”
While Iowa may not have the name recognition in the rowing world as, say Harvard and Yale, to be able to bring recruits to campus and show them the new facilities will be an enormous tool.
“To have bathrooms, to have showers, to have meeting rooms — I think its going to be hard to measure,” Kowal said.
The current home of the Hawkeyes is definitely not up to par in terms of a Division-I sport.
Iowa graduate assistant Melissa Schomers endured the days at the team’s current boathouse during her tenure as a Hawkeye rower.
“I remember having to go from practice to class and being cold and miserable,” she said.
Tyler feels the boathouse will have an immeasurable effect in recruiting for the team.
“We feel that Coach Kowal’s expertise, combined with the training opportunities in this new facility, will ensure that Iowa rowers have unlimited potential for success,” she said.
The new facilities will also help the Hawkeyes succeed by allowing rowers to develop quicker through year-round training provided by the new tank.
There also has been no corner cut, and everything is being built to the highest specifications.
“This has way exceeded my expectations,” Kowal said. “I think it will be one of the best boathouses in the Big Ten.”
She is excited about the opportunities the new facilities provide.
“Most recruits we bring out to Iowa are pleasantly surprised,” she said. “This will just be icing on the cake.”