Sept. 8, 2016
The University of Notre Dame will recognize James and Lisa McConnell in a private dedication ceremony Friday (Sept. 9) for their leadership gift to underwrite construction of the Fighting Irish rowing team’s McConnell Family Boathouse on the St. Joseph River near downtown South Bend.
“The construction of a boathouse has been a high priority — for our team and the community,” said Jack Swarbrick, vice president and James E. Rohr director of athletics. “The result is a beautiful and highly functional facility, and for that we are deeply grateful to the McConnells.”
Martin Stone, head coach of the Irish women’s team, added: “Jim and Lisa have been wonderful supporters of our program, and I can’t thank them enough for their gift. The boathouse already is making a significant difference and will continue to do so for many years to come.”
The 15,000-square-foot boathouse replaces a more modest facility nearby. The University donated the older building to the South Bend Scullers and Paddlers.
On the upper level, the McConnell Family Boathouse features a team room, coach’s lockers and office, varsity locker room, laundry facilities, training room, spectator deck and lounge area. The men’s club program also has space for a team room, coaches’ conference and locker room, a team locker room and laundry.
The lower level includes three boat storage bays, one boat repair bay, boat trailer access, a 144-oar racking system and equipment storage space. A new dock has been constructed for varsity and club use.
The McConnells have three children, Erin, John and Matthew. Their connection to Notre Dame rowing began in 2008, when Erin joined the women’s rowing team. She competed for the Irish from 2008 to 2012 and is a member of the Notre Dame Monogram Club. John is also a Notre Dame graduate.
“We are exceptionally happy with the quality of the new boathouse and for Notre Dame’s well-deserving student-athletes to have a new facility to be proud of and call `home.’ This facility would not have been possible without the efforts of so many wonderful people, including other benefactors, University administration and the coaching staff,” Jim and Lisa McConnell said. “We are confident that this new boathouse will further propel the Irish rowing program to continued victories on the water.”
Rowing at Notre Dame dates to the 1800s and a club team was established in 1964. The women’s varsity program began in 1998 and has steadily grown into one of the best in the country with eight NCAA championship appearances.
The women’s team — along with the men’s club program — moved into the new boathouse last winter.
From: Dennis Brown, assistant vice president for news and media relations