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Rock the (boat) house

    RIT's six-year-old rowing team can now claim a permanent residence on the banks of the Genesee River, behind the Racquet Club apartments, in a place that now houses the crew's five boats, rowing equipment, showers, lockers, two large boat bays and a conference room.

    The new state-of-the-art RIT boat house opened last October, just in time for the Stonehurst Capital Invitational Regatta.

    "We've come a long way from borrowing boats from the Rochester Rowing Club, and getting our first boat through bottle drives and Rent-A-Rower weekends," says Jim Bodenstedt, who, with his late wife, Margaret, began the men's and women's crew as an RIT club sport. Six years ago the idea of a crew at RIT garnered little support. "But the team really worked hard and we bought that first boat, The Five Cent Return, totally on our own." That impressed future supporters. Trustees Joseph Briggs and Thomas Gosnell were major contributors to the new boathouse and, along with Lucius Gordon, also helped fund new boats. Vice President Linda Kuk, seeing the success and excitement generated by having an RIT crew, also bought the team a women's four in 1995 through Student Affairs.

    "By then, we were squatters down at Genesee Valley Park, with no place to put the boats!" laughs Bodenstedt. "And we had become a very competitive crew." (From a club-status crew of two men's fours and a women's four in 1993, the team has won varsity sport status and grown to three varsity men's eights and a women's varsity eight in 1999, plus more than 50 new novice men and women.) Almost from the crew's beginning, the Bodenstedts had sought funds and a place for a boathouse. But, it didn't become a real possibility until 1996 when Briggs and Gosnell decided to contribute. Together, they provided the funds needed to build the new crew facility, at the same time establishing a fund to endow the crew program, the first-ever endowed team sport at RIT.