September 28, 2010

UMW Rowing Teams at Home on Rappahannock River

The University of Mary Washington Men's and Women's Rowing Programs are about to begin their 13th season as varsity sports this fall and a brand new home on the Rappahannock River welcomed the athletes, as the teams began practicing for the fall regatta season in September. A new dock, located adjacent to the Fredericksburg City Dock downtown, is the launching point for team practices, which have, in the past years, used facilities at the Lake of the Woods and more recently the Hope Springs Marina, in Stafford, Virginia. 

The dock, located just blocks from campus, cuts down significantly the travel time commuting to and from practice and is a blessing academically for student-athletes looking to add valuable minutes to their study time. It is attached to a piece of land that has historic significance to Fredericksburg. The site was once part of a “wharf complex” that was the center of commerce and transportation to and from the city. The wharf complex stretched Northward from this point to the current Railroad Bridge crossing and in 1855 travelers could board a vessel here bound for ports such as New York, Boston and Portland, Maine. Goods and passengers have flowed from this site since the founding of Fredericksburg in 1728 and it has enabled folks to navigate the Rappahannock River by canoes, ferries, sailing vessels and other modes of transportation..

“The new dock has both reduced our travel time and increased our exposure", said UMW head rowing Coach Richard Wilson. "Hopefully the greater exposure leads to greater participation by student-athletes and increased fundraising. Also, it's nice to continue the long tradition of racing boats on the Rappahannock that dates back hundreds of years.”

“A “HOME” on the Rappahannock for UMW Rowing has been a dream and major need for our rowers since the inception of a Women’s Club Team, almost 40 years ago, said Ed Hegmann, UMW Director of Athletics. When the program began, they rowed on Motts Run Reservoir and kept equipment in an old wooden shack. Our future goals include building a UMW Boathouse, on the Stafford side of the Rappahannock, south of our current launch point. This structure could serve both UMW and the Fredericksburg Community, as we attempt to bring back Rowing on the Rappahannock, which I understand began more than 200 years ago. As the City of Fredericksburg seeks to invigorate the Rappahannock Waterfront with parks and walking trails, I sincerely hope our Rowing Program’s presence will provide a positive spark to that effort.”