Melanie Borger & OCU Rowing

By Sparks Editorial Staff | March 23, 2012

Oklahoma City University Men's and Women's Rowing are revolutionizing the collegiate rowing tradition in the United States. Established as a Varsity program in 2004, OCU Rowing has developed into the only US collegiate program that offers racing opportunities in every boat class, rather than only the 8+, the traditional collegiate boat. OCU Rowing Assistant Coach Melanie Borger says, "OCU emphasizes sculling, and it is the only college in the US to do so." While 99% of collegiate rowing is sweep, OCU Rowing is the first program that offers sculling as a priority. Borger believes that "if a student sculls in high school, wishes to keep sculling at a high level and potentially race internationally for the USA, OCU provides the best opportunity to do so".

"if a student sculls in high school, wishes to keep sculling at a high level and potentially race internationally for the USA, OCU provides the best opportunity to do so"

Student athletes row out of the Oklahoma City University Devon Boathouse, located on the banks of the Oklahoma River. The $10 million facility is the home of OCU Rowing and Canoe/Kayak and headquarters for the OKC National High Performance Center, a program providing a training home for Olympic hopefuls in both rowing and canoe/kayak. Devon Boathouse is arguably the most advanced boathouse in the world. Built in 2011, it offers the most cutting edge training facilities, such as a dynamic propulsion rowing tank, high altitude training chamber, endless pool, strength and conditioning facilities, and a Concept 2 self-propulsions lab. In addition to the Devon Boathouse, the Oklahoma River has a 2000 meter fully buoyed racecourse with a finish line tower and grandstands.

"Having three members make the U23 team is a historic event for our program and we are looking to build on it in the years to come…"

While the OCU team is small, about 20 men and 15 women, success can be measured on the international scene. In 2011, three OCU rowers competed at the Under-23 World Rowing Championships. "Having three members make the U23 team is a historic event for our program and we are looking to build on it in the years to come" says Borger. Domestically, OCU 's accomplishments include winning the men's and women's single events at the Dad Vail Regatta. "Winning both single events last spring was a huge accomplishment" adds Borger, and "we are looking to spread the success to more of the small boats events." While small boats are the emphasis, Borger also notes that a long-term goal for OUC Men is qualification for the IRA National Championships.

"Every recruited student athlete is on some [academic/athletic] scholarship" adds Borger, "the university is very supportive of the program"

When asked about recruiting athletes to OCU, Borger says, "we look for students who are passionate about small boat rowing, especially sculling. The Oklahoma City community is excited about rowing and we want to keep building a successful program in the community." OCU tends to draw students who may be overlooked by larger D1 programs, such as students who start rowing late in their high school career. Financially, OCU supports recruited athletes through academic and athletic scholarships. "Every recruited student athlete is on some [academic/athletic] scholarship" adds Borger, "the university is very supportive of the program".

For more information about OCU Rowing please visit OCU Women's Rowing OCU Men's Rowing.

- Glenn Ochal