Family Weekend brings new boat for club

GVL Archive
Rowers rig the eights at past race. The Lakers recently christened their new eight, the Mike Keeler.

GVL Archives

GVL Archive Rowers rig the eights at past race. The Lakers recently christened their new eight, the “Mike Keeler”.

Kyle McMillen

As family weekend welcomed a win for the football team, the Grand Valley State University rowing club received a huge boost to their program: the christening of the “Mike Keeler.”

Christened by GVSU President Emeritus Arend D. Lubbers, this new, 100-percent carbon boat was a gift from alumni donors to the rowing club, and sets the stage for the upcoming season for the team.

The club, which competes at a varsity level, competes against Division I schools such as the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, but with the addition of another, new boat, head coach John Bancheri sees more success ahead for Laker rowing.

“It’s not what you have, it’s what you do with what you have,” Bancheri said. “I think that our kids commit the most time out of all the athletic programs when you talk about practice, the rent-a-rower program and not to mention academics. That commitment has shown itself in the water.”

The addition of the “Mike Keeler” is symbolic of the strength that the alumni influence has on the GVSU Rowing Club. With a lead gift from alum Melissa Workman along with a contribution from the student government, this gift was received with much excitement not only for the club itself, but also from the over 200 parents and family that were there too.

“I love when my parents come for family weekend so I can show them how to row and the boats we have, especially the new ones,” said rower Lindsay Marshall. “Having the parents come down to the boathouse and see the work involved with rowing and what it takes to row is great because it helps the parents to get involved.”

The decision to name the new boat the “Mike Keeler” was an easy decision for the alumni involved with the ceremony. In 1973, Keeler gave a generous donation to the then-young rowing program in hopes of assisting the early days of their existence.

What came about following his donation was a 40-by-80-foot pole barn that still stands as the team’s boathouse.

“Without Mike Keeler and the many other donors, our team would not be where it is today: winning national championships,” Marshall said.

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