Saint Charles Rowing Club partners with forest preserve, fitness center


  •  The Saint Charles Rowing Club is partnering with the Kane County Forest Preserve District in developing a community rowing facility at the Fox River Bluff East Forest Preserve, located just west of Route 25 in St. Charles.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer, 2013

Joyce Paliganoff

Jan. 21, 2015 — The Saint Charles Rowing Club and the Kane County Forest Preserve District are pleased to announce the first step in the development and usage of Fox River Bluff East Forest Preserve as a community rowing facility.

The club is the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit competitive junior rowing club on the Fox River in Illinois. The new land usage agreement with the club and the ongoing support from the Kane County Forest Preserve Board are exciting initial steps in the engagement of the community for usage of the Fox River as a rowing venue.

The coed juniors rowing club consisting of 30-plus area high schoolers is thrilled about the community support and the unique and amazing opportunity this will be for the area.

The club is most grateful for the support of John Hoscheit, president of Kane County Forest Preserve and Kane County Board member, and Monica Meyers, executive director of Kane County Forest Preserve, along with the local schools, numerous universities and regional rowing teams.

Fox River Bluff East at 5N860 Weber Drive features approximately 35 wooded acres and 720 feet of river frontage on the Fox River in St. Charles. Located just north of the Red Gate Bridge, it is the ideal location for regional and national rowing regattas and events, bringing in tourists, spectators and competitors. There is also a bike path that runs alongside. The club is expected to relocate to the site in spring 2015.

“It will be our ‘forever home’,” said Chris Meldrum, club president. “We have offered not only competitive juniors programs but diverse rowing programs as well.”

“There is excitement among local and national crew teams looking forward to coming to St. Charles to compete,” said Meldrum. “Our main focus is to bring the community together as rowers, engaging the river not only as rowing platform but as a venue to provide scholarship opportunities. This is an exciting first step in making St. Charles a rowing destination!”

The club recognizes the amount of sweat equity needed to rework this piece of land. Basic land and riverfront modifications, temporary docking, and safe river access to the river top the list, but the club remains energized about the future and what this project means to St. Charles and surrounding communities.

Per Meldrum, “Fundraising for a community boathouse will be extensive, but we believe in this program and we will only grow. It’s great to be the only hometown team.”

Last summer, the club and Grand Valley State University held the first Wounded Warrior Project learn-to-row class.

Due to lack of acceptable facilities locally, it was held in Allendale, Michigan, in conjunction with Grand Valley head rowing coach John Bancheri and the Grand Valley State University Rowing Club.

The event wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Coach Bancheri and his GVSU crew. National and Olympic team members Ross and Grant James have been out to support the club as well.

The club is also looking ahead to hosting an indoor competitive rowing event with Wounded Warrior Project and Team Red White & Blue (RWB) in March. The club is excited to begin rowing programs with RWB at Fox Valley Fitness in Geneva, and on the water this spring and through the summer.

“Fox Valley Fitness has been great as our new home for indoor training, and we couldn’t be more excited about this great partnership,” said Meldrum. Like the Wounded Warrior Project and RWB, St. Charles Crew has the same goals of community engagement, spirit, and compassion, not to mention competitiveness. “It’s a perfect fit,” said Meldrum.

The club started a brief 18 months ago with Meldrum’s son, Gordon O’Brien, and Sam Schweizer, both freshmen rowers for Marietta College and Milwaukee School of Engineering, respectively. Currently, the club has more rowers than boats.

With 16 high schools in the area and rowers from St. Charles, Batavia, Geneva, Naperville, Barrington, Hinsdale and Wheaton, the club provides an alternative to traditional ball sports. As the club continues to grow, the community will recognize the scholarship opportunities that are available through rowing, leadership skill development and engagement in a sport that is unique and truly beautiful.

For donations, fundraising or additional information, contact Joyce Paliganoff, director of marketing and media, at or (630) 457-8090 or Chris Meldrum, club president, at or (630) 207-8337.

Visit or follow Saint Charles Rowing Club on Facebook.

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