The ground-level boat bay in the Tennessee Boathouse holds 26 shells, ranging from singles to eights.
The three-story building is the permanent home of the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer Rowing Team. The facility, located directly across the street from Neyland Stadium on the waterfront, anchors the west end of Knoxville's Volunteer Landing waterfront development and jettisons 40-feet out over the water with balconies overlooking the Tennessee River. The structure stands beside the "Vol Navy" docks.
The ground level boat bay holds 26 boats ranging from singles to pairs to quads and fours and – of course – eights. Between rows of neatly arranged equipment, the Tennessee River can be viewed through windows spanning the entire south wall. When the team is ready to get "hands on," telescoping arms extend from the boat racks, and a racing shell is removed from its holding place.
Because of its proximity to the water, rowers are able to carry their boats down a short ramp from the Tennessee Boathouse to the Tennessee River below.
The crew carries the boat out of the bay and proceeds down a concrete ramp to the floating dock. An east deck platform serves as the lay-down space for rowing shells, a meeting place for athletes and a gathering spot for visiting teams. Balconies on the second and third floors of the facility overlook this platform. The 180-foot floating dock has enough space to launch three eights at once.
Coaching boats are stored on a motorized lift which keeps them out of the water when not in use. Two new additions were made following the 2007 NCAA Championships when the rowing team was granted wake-less coaching boats allowing for increased coaching access while maintaining calm water and a protected shoreline.
The second level begins with a walk down Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll hallway lined with plaques earned by UT rowing student-athletes. The hall leads to the workout room, which contains rowing machines and bikes wall-to-wall, neatly arranged in front of a mirror that spans the entire side of the room. Windows overlooking the river provide motivation to the team as they train. Hanging on the walls are team awards won by various rowers, ranging from academic accolades to testing time standards to hardest worker and athletic achievement awards such as the program's All-America Team members.
Arranged around the perimeter of the workout area are the coaches' offices, managers' office (complete with training and competition apparel and washers and dryers), athletic trainers' consultation room, team locker room as well as showers and restrooms.
After working out, athletes can head to the shower to prepare for the rest of the day, Many of the rowers will scurry down the stairs and head up the hill to class, while others grab a snack and head to the team room to study before classes.
The team room is used for meetings and more. With tables and chairs for everyone, team meals are a common occurrence in the meeting room. For a more relaxed setting, the athletes settle into one of several oscillating rocking chairs that are arranged in front of a large flat screen television. Display cases document the team's six consecutive NCAA Rowing Championship appearances, Head of the Charles regatta accolades and pictures of rowers and coxswains who have helped establish a tradition of success in the program.
Coach Glenn will often rally the troops into the team room to watch video from training or racing. As the review session ends, those who watched the sun rise may also watch it set from the balcony on the west side of the building. The team room and its many functions feel like a home away from home for the rowing team.
"Having an on-campus boathouse makes a tremendous difference for us," Glenn said. "The facility is our home and allows us to do what needs to be done in an efficient and appropriate manner. In addition, we are fortunate to have a two-lane, cabled 2000m course right in front of the boathouse, allowing us to host dual races right here at home."
This is what Coach Glenn envisioned in September of 1999 when the first shovel was driven into the ground on the north side of the Tennessee River. Now many years later, she and the team have a place marking the arrival of Lady Vol Rowing in Knoxville. It stands three stories high and is a symbol of the success of the Tennessee Rowing Program.