Michigan Native Bart Thompson Tabbed Head Coach for New Rowing Programs

Photos provided.
Photos provided.

ADRIAN, Mich.—Michigander Bart Thompson has been named the first head coach for men’s and women’s rowing at Adrian College, it was announced Monday by Bulldogs athletics director Michael Duffy.

Thompson is the co-founder of the Kansas City Boat Club and served as the inaugural head rowing coach of the KCBC juniors program. He also acted as an advisor during the creation of the University of Missouri--Kansas City Rowing Club, and has been an assistant coach for the UMKC program during its inaugural year

“During the search process that included examining a solid applicant pool, it became clear to us that Bart’s outgoing, warm personality and his ties to the Midwest were attributes that we identified in our first rowing coach at Adrian College,” Duffy said.

Thompson added:  “I am beyond excited for the opportunity to be the inaugural crew coach for Adrian College. I have read a lot about the college's continued growth during the past decade, and I eagerly look forward to being a part of such a dynamic, evolving institution. The addition of rowing to Adrian's athletic offerings speaks to the kind of innovative thinking that is happening under President Docking and Michael Duffy.”

For the Stanford University graduate who was a collegiate rower and then a member of the Cardinal men’s lacrosse club team, earning the Adrian appointment means an opportunity to come back home.

“My roots in both rowing and in life are in this area of the country. My immediate family still lives in Ann Arbor where I took my first Learn-To-Row class at the Ann Arbor Rowing Club. My first coaching position was at my alma mater in Toledo (Ohio), St. John's Jesuit High School. I've raced against and developed relationships with rowers and coaches from Midwestern cities Detroit, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Kansas City and St. Louis. But my heart is in Michigan. It is where I call home, which is part of why I'm so excited to be able to help lead the sport to new levels of growth in this state.”

Thompson, who will start his new duties on June 1, will begin recruiting student-athletes immediately as the expectation for rowing is to compete as club sports for limited events in 2017-18, with a full schedule beginning with the 2018-19 academic year.

Adrian’s complement of competitive sports includes 41 sports, with 21 for women and 20 for men. Adrian becomes the first NCAA Division III institution based in Michigan and one of a handful in the Midwest to offer men's and women's rowing. According to the latest data, there are 25 men's and 42 women’s programs sponsored by NCAA Division III institutions. The NCAA conducts a national championship for D-III women’s rowing.

Bulldog Rowing will make its home on Devils Lake at 6150 W. US-223 on the property of the current Clearwater Resort and Motel. The motel will be demolished and a planned two-story boathouse will be constructed. The shore will serve as the launching point for the crew watercraft. The new boathouse will include meeting rooms, coaches’ offices and storage rooms for rowing equipment.

Devils Lake is located in Lenawee County between Woodstock and Rollin townships. The lake drains into Bean Creek on the southwest, just north of Manitou Beach.

“Throughout my discussions with Adrian College it has been clear that the school is committed to not only building a rowing program, but building an excellent rowing program,” Thompson said about his excitement for starting a program from scratch. “This starts with facilities; one look at the preliminary blueprint designs for the boathouse makes it obvious that the school is committed to the success of this program. This boathouse will be one of the most beautiful and impressive facilities of any team in our region, if not the country. Likewise, the school is looking forward to the prospect of our home venue on Devils Lake being a destination for high-quality racing.”

Additionally, Thompson is looking forward to establishing crew as another positive piece to the Adrian community.

“I have always been a big believer that a team's culture is perhaps the most important element to its success, and that is a huge piece of why I am excited to begin this program. It offers a great chance to create and cultivate a culture of accountability, support, and excellence. From what I have seen of Adrian's athletic programs there is already a fantastic culture that exists at the school; my job is simply to capitalize on that cultural momentum and demand the same sort of excellence within the crew program as is demanded in other areas of the student life.”

Thompson, who received a bachelor’s degree in American history from Stanford in 2012, sees a couple of immediate goals as being crucial to the development of the new programs.

“We need to build our boathouse on Devils Lake as quickly and efficiently as possible, so that the student-athletes can start to gain experience at the club level for the upcoming school year before we move to varsity status in the fall of 2018. In order to make that happen we need to have a boathouse to hold our equipment and give our rowers a home where they can train and thrive.”

Thompson continued: “We also need to begin to recruit student-athletes who will contribute to the academic, athletic, and extracurricular success of Adrian College. We will recruit student-athletes who are excited about being cornerstones of our crew program, who are driven to achieve excellence not only on the water but also in the classroom and in the Adrian College community, and who are driven to be the best versions of themselves.”

Duffy indicated that Adrian will explore affiliation with the Intercollegiate Rowing Association or American Collegiate Rowing Association on the men’s side and Mid-Atlantic Rowing Conference on the women’s side.

(TRANSACTION: Adrian College—Bart Thompson named first head coach of inaugural men's and women's rowing programs, which will begin with 2017-18 academic year.)

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