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Thursday, July 07, 2022
<p>The UF Men’s Crew club carry their boat into the waters of Lake Alto in Waldo on Oct. 28, 2015. Since their boathouse on Newnan’s Lake has been condemned, the club has to drive 45 minutes to practice every day.</p>

The UF Men’s Crew club carry their boat into the waters of Lake Alto in Waldo on Oct. 28, 2015. Since their boathouse on Newnan’s Lake has been condemned, the club has to drive 45 minutes to practice every day.

Joseph Briggs has considered quitting the sport he loves more than once.

The chemical engineering junior is a member of UF’s Crew club, which has been practicing out of a local space for almost two years. Its boathouse at Newnans Lake has been condemned, and the other boathouse there currently belongs to Gainesville Area Rowing, a nonprofit corporation that teaches rowing to middle schoolers, high schoolers and adults.

The team has to practice 45 minutes away from campus at Lake Alto in Waldo, the 19-year-old said. This commute has greatly reduced the team’s numbers, as most people don’t want to make the drive. They drive to the lake four days a week and use Southwest Recreation Center’s rowing machines on Sundays.

"We’re all college students," he said. "We can’t be driving 45 minutes out and back every day to have our practices. It’s really affected the team."

UF Crew President Atilio Atencio said in a regular year the club gets about 120 new rowers for the men’s and women’s teams, but this year there are about 12 for the men’s team and about 30 for the women’s team.

"We expected to have so many more rowers to help us fundraise, and we don’t have those numbers anymore," the 21-year-old UF biochemistry senior said.

Atencio said the team is required to fundraise 75 percent of what Student Government gives them, making the goal for this year $18,000. It’s uncertain if they’ll be able to reach it.

Briggs said UF RecSports didn’t explain details of what was going on when the team first had to move. RecSports first said the team would get its space back in November of last year, then it was pushed back to March, then August, then January, and now it’s been pushed back to July 2016.

"It was very shady, and we didn’t really learn much," he said.

Executive Director for Recreation and Health Promotion Services for RecSports David Bowles said they are in the process of acquiring the boathouse currently used by Gainesville Area Rowing. In the meantime, they plan on moving the team’s practice space to Lake Wauburg.

Gainesville Area Rowing did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Bowles said the date of the transition isn’t firm yet.

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"At the end of the day, the university is working hard at this because of a strong desire to take care of our students who are part of that club," he said.

Briggs said he hopes the situation is resolved soon, as there have been incidents of theft and harassment on the team at Lake Alto.

"Going forward it all sounds good, but it just needs to happen," he said.

Contact Alexandra Fernandez at afernandez@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @alexmfern

The UF Men’s Crew club carry their boat into the waters of Lake Alto in Waldo on Oct. 28, 2015. Since their boathouse on Newnan’s Lake has been condemned, the club has to drive 45 minutes to practice every day.

From right: UF crew team members Maggie Flatley, a 23-year-old chemical engineering senior,Catie Flatley, a 20-year-old journalism junior, and Darrion Williams, an 18-year-old biomedical engineering freshman, work out on rowing machines at Southwest Recreation Center on Oct. 27, 2015. The crew team lost access to their boathouse this semester and must find alternative places to practice.

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