From its days in the 1980s as a fledgling club sport, rowing at Hamilton has been powered by the rowers themselves, first as students, then as alumni. The sport grew, attaining varsity status and success at the national level. Now, alumni rowers have pulled together for another victory — a new boathouse, made possible by gifts they raised and contributed over the past two years.
Construction is scheduled to begin in April on the $2 million structure, which is located on the Erie Canal in Rome’s Bellamy Harbor Park, and should be ready to use in August. The facility will be a significant enhancement from the current rented one. It will include a much larger boat storage and operations area, a team meeting room, a coaching office, and indoor restrooms.
“The new facility will afford our coaches and student-athletes the amenities necessary to enhance our already successful rowing program,” said Athletics Director Jon Hind ’80. “We have enjoyed our long partnership with the City of Rome, and we look forward to assisting with the development and programming of Bellamy Harbor Park.”
The location itself is an advantage. “The stretch of water on the Erie Canal in front of the new site is connected to the Mohawk River and opens up earlier in the spring,” explained James Lister, head coach for women’s and men’s rowing. “This is a huge gain for the program and will allow us two more weeks of rowing outside.”
More time on the water brings better results, said Steven Larson ’03, who thinks the program’s upward trajectory will continue. “Better results mean better recruits, and better recruits means more people coming in, more fundraising, better equipment. Better equipment yields better results,” Larson says.
Rower Ann-Sophie Koglin ’20, who was a team captain, takes pride in the program’s humble roots, but she, too, thinks the new boathouse will help attract rowers. Koglin remembers that when she first visited Hamilton for an overnight, she was struck by the contrast between the beautiful campus and the substandard boathouse. Not that that inhibited her success. She and her team earned an at-large bid to the 2019 NCAA championship, and she helped lead the varsity 8 to a top 10 ranking in the final Division III coaches’ poll in each of her first three seasons. She was the recipient of the Milton H. Jannone Award for outstanding athleticism, leadership, and academic accomplishment, and three-time member of the all-NESCAC team.
Besides qualifying for the NCAA championship and earning a sixth-place team ranking, the women’s team had a fourth-place finish in the 2019 Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston. For the past two years, the men’s team has been a silver medalist in the varsity 8+, and in 2019 finished just one second behind the winning team.
As a student Greg Selch ’88 was the coach in the days when Hamilton rowers couldn’t imagine that such a successful varsity program lay ahead. He thinks the program’s hardscrabble roots created a bond between rowers across generations. He’s among a core group of alumni who work hard to keep the bond strong.
“We want them all to feel that what we did back so many years ago is helping and benefiting students who are at Hamilton today,” Selch said. Both he and Larson plan to be part of the celebratory crowd when the new boathouse is unveiled.
After an initial design competition, Holt Architects of Ithaca was selected as the building architect. Their design team included Erdman Anthony of Rochester (mechanical and electrical), Trowbridge, Wolf and Michaels of Ithaca (site and landscape), and Delta Engineers of Vernon (civil engineering). The development of the project involved close collaboration with the City of Rome mayor’s office, planning department, and planning board. The construction contract has been awarded to Beebe Construction Services.