By Caitlin Schudalla
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma’s largest women’s athletic team won’t have to commute to Oklahoma City for practice after this upcoming season.
Following the OU Board of Regents’ approval in January, construction of the Oklahoma Rowing Training Center will begin in March, alongside the opening of the Sooner rowing team’s 2013 season.
“Under the direction of Coach Leeanne Crain, the Oklahoma rowing program has already progressed faster than most could have expected. We are creating a culture at OU where student-athletes can compete at the highest levels, and our expectations for the rowing program certainly align with that overall objective,” said Joe Castiglione, OU athletic director.
The $6.5 million, 24,000-square-foot training facility will be located south of Blankenship Boulevard, near the rugby and soccer fields, and will include storage space for groundskeeping in addition to various training and locker rooms.
Since the rowing program’s debut five years ago, the team has conducted on-campus training at Memorial Stadium or traveled to the Oklahoma City Boathouse district for practice on the Oklahoma River.
Coordinating the schedules of 75 athletes to conduct early morning practice at a location 30 minutes from campus was no small task for Crain, who said the new facility will accommodate the team through both space and convenience.
“Having the facility on campus will make training so much more flexible, so for efficiency, it’s great, and team members will be able to train on their own outside of practice if they so choose. The facility will accommodate the whole team very well,” Crain said.
“Our coaches and student-athletes can’t wait for the completion of this state-of-the-art, on-campus practice facility. We are thrilled to provide these resources where our student-athletes can train at the highest level to prepare to compete for championships,” Castiglione said.
Among the facility’s amenities will be a 16-seat “moving water” rowing tank, a large workout space, sports medicine and hydrotherapy rooms, a team room, a locker room, offices and a laundry area.
Unlike the Huston-Huffman Fitness Center on the OU campus and rowing facilities in the OKC Boathouse district, Castiglione said the OU Rowing Facility will not be open to the public.
“When President Boren and Joe Castiglione commit to something, they commit fully, we’re very grateful for this resource being provided to the team,” Crain said.
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