Almost two years ago, nonprofit MCPc Family Charities
, and Mike and Gina Trebilcock announced plans for a $9 million transformation of a group of industrial buildings
in the Flats into The Foundry
– a park, fitness center and boat house designed around fostering youth rowing in Cleveland. The effort has grown into a thriving center for area kids interested in rowing and sailing.
“We’re just beginning, and we’re starting to watch it take off,” says Foundry executive director Aaron Marcovy, adding that the organization now has nearly 250 athletes-in-residence who use the center on a daily basis.
The 65,000-square-foot building sits on a 2.7 acre lot at 1831 Columbus Road in the Flats. About 60 percent of the facility encompasses boat storage, while the remaining 40 percent is reserved for programming, workout facilities and locker rooms.
The Foundry has already expended $16 million in constructing the state-of-the-art facility, all of which was funded through private donations, Marcovy says. The organization continues to seek out additional grants and sources of capital.
The goal is to guide any student interested in rowing or sailing through the basics and, hopefully, to help them garner college scholarships. “We want to introduce the sport of rowing and provide pathways if they fall in love with it – and they usually do,” Marcovy says. “We want to eliminate as many barriers as possible.”
The latest addition to the Foundry is two state-of-the-art indoor rowing tanks – allowing for one person to get a rowing workout or as many as 24 to row together.
“The [tanks] will certainly be a workout facility, where athletes can get an incredibly intense workout, in addition to learning the basics,” says Marcovy. “These tanks and the whole facility will be open for people to learn about a new sport, become fit and stay healthy, and utilize our greatest resources – the river and the lake.”
The tanks, which have 36 seats that sit in moving water pools, were installed and filled last week, and will be a nice addition to both beginners and seasoned athletes year-round. Marcovy quotes one 30-year-old athlete who marveled over the intensity of a rowing workout, noting with belabored breath, “I've done CrossFit for four years, and that was ... that was ... so much harder," after using one of the tanks.
Those new additions will also serve the Foundry well for students who are just learning the sport, many of whom Marcovy says don't know how to swim and have never even seen a body of water like the Cuyahoga River or Lake Erie. “The tanks allow students to get acclimated to the rowing stroke before they go out on the water,” he explains.
A new parking lot was also poured last week and the Foundry touts a 584-foot dock – the longest on the Cuyahoga River.
Other workout equipment includes about 100 Concept2 rowing machines, a battery of free weights, including five racks and five lifting platforms.
On the water, the Foundry has 20 rowing vessels and hosts more than 35 other shells that are owned by individual teams-in-residence. Additionally, there are 12 motorized safety boats, most of which are owned by the Foundry.
Programming at the Foundry began to take off this past summer, in part through a partnership with the Cleveland Metroparks
. After aligning with the Cleveland Youth Rowing Association
in 2015, the Foundry has also joined with St. Edward High School rowing
, St. Joseph Academy crew
, Magnificat High School
and the Urban Community School
, among other schools in their rowing endeavors.
Marcovy says the Foundry hopes to attract even more schools as the organization grows. “We’d love to have school groups, youth groups and schools starting rowing programs,” he says. “Our doors are always open.”
The Foundry began a sailing program last summer with one Tartan-10 vessel, twelve 420 class two-person vessels and access to two Boston Whaler safety power boats. The organization operates a competitive youth sailing program out of the Metroparks’ Wendy Park.
The Foundry also worked with the Metroparks last summer on a 'Try It' sailing experience, which was free and open to the public at Wendy Park. “It filled up almost immediately,” recalls Marcovy.
This past Saturday, Dec. 10, the Foundry hosted the Bricks & Bridges Biathlon, a 10K run through the Flats and a 10K rowing machine race. The winners received real anvils as trophies.
On Sunday, Feb. 26 the Foundry will host the U.S. Junior National Team
’s identification camp. The team is sending its head coach, Steve Hargis, and his staff to Cleveland to identify talented athletes for potential selection into the U.S. Junior National Rowing Team system.
“We hope that this will be a draw for high level adolescent athletes from all over the Midwest,” says Marcovy. “The event centers around a rowing machine test, as well as rowing in the moving water tanks.”