For the almost 20 years Calvin Cupp has been coach of Shocker rowing, he’s had a second unpaid job as a mover.
He and his rowers regularly loaded 57-foot rowing shells into a couple of 42-foot trailers, shuttled them to the Arkansas River for practice or regattas, reloaded them for storage elsewhere or maintenance at loaned city space.
“It was a logistics challenge,” Cupp says.
That’s all changed with a new facility within the River Vista Apartments at 150 N. McLean where the team now has lockers, showers, storage and a 240-dock. It’s also where a Boats & Bikes retail store will open this spring for the public to partake of the river and sidewalks along it.
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“It’s an easy walk to the river, and the dock is just phenomenal,” Cupp says. “It’s really hard to express what a change it’s made for our program. . . . The quality of experience our student athletes have now is just superb.”
Wichita State University and the River Vista partners will host the public for a tour of the boathouse and the apartments, including the complex’s resort-style pool, clubhouse and exercise facility, from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
“They can come down and see something they can be proud of that is really going to benefit a wide range of people in town,” Cupp says.
The teams have been using the space for a few months.
“It is generating activity and is a neat amenity for the residents,” says Amy Liebau, president of River Vista and COO of Laham Development, a partner in the apartments with Dave Wells and Dave Burk.
She says planning for the space included making sure there was enough room to turn the shells inside the building.
“They are huge,” Liebau says. “When you see the size of them, you’ll see why that’s a big deal.”
She says there’s also room to do maintenance on the shells and “basically do everything they need to do.”
Liebau says Shocker rowing and Boats & Bikes will both activate the river, which was part of the city’s intent since consultant Goody Clancy recommended it several years ago.
“Shocker rowing is actually going to manage that facility for us,” Liebau says.
There will be a full-time manager and part-time student help, and proceeds from rentals will support the team.
“We’re going to offer everything we can think of that we believe people will be interested in doing,” Cupp says.
That includes clinics and camps, a variety of bike and boat rentals and possibly some other options such as Segways and motorized scooters.
“We’re going to have a small group of athletes cycling throughout the open house,” Cupp says.
Shocker rowers will be there, too, for visiting and some display rowing.
The grand opening includes a 4 p.m. dedication of the rowing shells. There also are leasing specials for the 202-unit complex, which has one- and two-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom lofts.
“This is really a true joint venture, and everyone brought something to the table,” Cupp says of WSU, the River Vista partners and the city.
Now, his career as a part-time mover is over.
“It has been an interesting journey,” Cupp says.
“We have had several temporary bases, and we made the best of them,” he says. “We’re just so excited to finally have a permanent home.”