Oklahoma City University will make history when it launches the nation's first collegiate varsity canoe/kayak program in the 2010-2011 academic year. USA Canoe/Kayak sprint national team coach Shaun Caven, who has coached athletes at the Olympic level in Great Britain, will serve as head coach for the OCU program.
"This first of its kind program will give paddlers the opportunity to continue training while attending college," Caven said. "College-age kayakers have traditionally had to choose either school or training. With OCU's program, athletes will get everything they need to nurture success — education, training facilities and coaching — helping more athletes realize their dreams to study and to train toward representing the nation on the international stage."
OCU's canoe/kayak program complements the USA Canoe/Kayak's Under 23 Team that trains at the OKC High Performance Training Center on the Oklahoma River. The center and the OCU program will be housed in one of the finest facilities in the world when the Devon Boathouse opens this fall. Amenities of the Devon Boathouse include an endless pool, state-of-the-art sports performance technology and a high-altitude training chamber.
"OCU is committed to developing a world-class water sports program to complement the momentum on the Oklahoma River," said OCU President Tom McDaniel. "OCU's reputation for academic excellence enables us to award more than $10 million annually in academic merit scholarships or performance scholarships, providing incoming athletes with a host of scholarship opportunities."
"We have grown our athletic department primarily through the addition of Olympic sports," said Jim Abbott, OCU athletic director. "The canoe/ kayak program fits perfectly in our plans and makes great sense considering the historic growth and development that is occurring on the Oklahoma River. First and foremost, our university exists to provide an excellent education to our students. We think that student-athletes that come to OCU to participate in the canoe/kayak program will continue the history of high academic achievement within our department."
"Working together with OCU, we can create a program with significant impact to the sport of canoe/kayak in the United States. This is a tremendous opportunity for athletes in this country to have, and we're so glad it's happening here in Oklahoma City," Caven added.