BY LAUREN BOSTON
There may be hope for the University of Mary Washington crew team afterall.
Two weeks after the team’s Varsity status was suspended, Bernard Chirico announced the rowers were once again intercollegiate athletes.
“The BOV will no longer be considering [terminating Varsity status] at their meeting,” Chirico said. “The team has been returned to Varsity status.”
After losing their previous home at Lake of the Woods, budget cuts and declining numbers on the male side, the crew team was told the administration recommended cutting their program to club status.
According to Chirico, Hope Springs Marina made an offer just in time after head coach Phil Schmehl first visited the creek on Aug. 31.
“They offered their facilities the day after seeing the news report in the newspaper,” he said. “They made the contact first, I believe to Schmehl.”
According to Schmehl, he and the administration began to move forward with the decision on Friday.
The team will call Aquia Creek their temporary home until Schmehl can find a permanent location even closer than the current 20 minute commute to campus.
The marina will be free of charge to the University and has not set a time limit on UMW’s stay.
Schmehl said Hope Springs is a good venue for the time being.
“It’s protected water and there’s plenty of it,” he said.
Betsy Bouton said the team is ready to leave this behind and focus on the season.
“We were really excited about the news and we can’t wait to get on the water and start practicing because it’s such an enjoyable experience,” she said. “We’re very pleased that the people at Hope Springs Marina have been so welcoming in allowing us to practice there.”
According the Chirico, the team still has to prove they can attract potential rowers.
“The rowing teams have been informed that the next two to three years is an opportunity to show us that they can retain a full complement of rowers and that the expense of maintaining the rowing team at Varsity status is a worthwhile expenditure for the University’s funds,” he said.
Although the crew team may not be out of the dark just yet, rowers can rest easy this season after filling out NCAA paperwork on Monday.
Bouton said the next step is boosting the team roster.
“Hopefully in the upcoming years we will be able to recruit more men to come out for the team,” she said.
While Schmehl will look to recruit in the next few seasons, his current concern is on upcoming competiton.
“We now can shift our focus to improving the team’s technique and fitness,” he said.
In an e-mail sent to the student body on Tues., Chirico praised the UMW community.
“I also want to commend the teams for the manner in which they conducted themselves during this time, and the student body for its show of support for fellow students,” Chirico said.
The crew team will compete in the Occoquan Challenge Regatta Oct. 7.