The Tampa Rowing Club was formed in 1972 at the University of Tampa (UT) as the Hillsborough Rowing Club, with only two members. The club however grew quickly to 30 plus members.
In 1984, the club’s name was changed to Tampa Rowing Club (TRC); this was a strategic move to gain recognition, as the city of Tampa was much better known than Hillsborough. The organization also became incorporated this same year and relocated to its current location at the University of Tampa McNeel Boathouse shortly thereafter.
In the mid 1980’s the original UT Boathouse was torn down. At the same time, the Florida State Fair, which occupied land now known as part of UT, was moving to its present location. TRC was able to utilize the old fairground buildings to house their equipment.
Following being housed at the old fairgrounds, TRC made a move to an old bridge repair building under the Boulevard Bridge. This facility use was at no cost to the club, which made it tolerable to use a cement block that slanted towards the river as a dock! This was to be a temporary solution for TRC as attempts were being made to obtain a boathouse to call their own. TRC made this location home for 9 years, spiffing up the place for its members by installing shower and toilet facilities over the years.
In the meantime, back at UT, the administration was considering dropping the crew program from its sports line up. Not wanting to see this happen, a TRC member approached the President of UT and asked if TRC raised $100,000.00, would UT match it to build a new boathouse, therefore strengthening their crew program. This challenge was accepted and more than met! Altogether, TRC members raised $275,000 and a new boathouse was built, McNeel Boathouse.
A few years later the UT crew coach invited TRC back to the UT campus for a partnership in the McNeel boathouse. UT believed that TRC dues would help fund the UT crew program. This was a win-win! Including the $275,000 that was raised, TRC has contributed over $500,000 to UT. The excitement of this partnership grew TRC to over 100 members.
Tampa Rowing Club was not always just recreational. From the inception of TRC through the 1990’s, TRC members were competitive. Participating in regattas across North America. Our competitive members made TRC proud and put the club on the map by continuously medaling at these events.
Moreover, if you could not tell already, TRC was and is passionate about supporting the sport of rowing locally and nationally. The organization has been instrumental in getting high school rowing programs established at H.B. Plant High School and Hillsborough High School, as well as serving as coaches for several local programs. In 2018 the TRC donated $5,000 to the restarted Blake High School Rowing Club. In 2019 the TRC provided scholarships to high school rowers.
In December of 2019, the President of the University of Tampa gave TRC 26 days to vacate the UT boathouse, along with our 40 boats...the very boathouse the TRC helped to fund to the tune of $275,000! No other rowing program other than Tampa Catholic was willing to offer any help. The City of Tampa did provide a dozen racks in the Tampa River Center on a temporary basis while TRC searched for a more permanent home. The Jean Street Shipyard, an active shipyard five miles upriver, offered TRC a home where we continue to row to this day!