USRowing Announces Knopp as 2012 Jack Kelly Award Winner
October 02, 2012
PRINCETON, N.J. – USRowing is pleased to announce that Oklahoma City Riversport Executive Director Michael J. Knopp is the recipient of the 2012 USRowing Jack Kelly Award.
The award recognizes superior achievements in rowing, service to amateur athletics, success in a chosen profession, and is given to a person who serves as an inspiration to American rowers and represents the ideals Jack Kelly exemplified.
Knopp will be honored at the Golden Oars Awards Dinner on Wednesday, November 14, at the New York Athletic Club in New York City.
Kelly was a four-time Olympian from Philadelphia and the son of John B. Kelly, Sr., a three-time Olympic champion. Despite winning three Olympic gold medals, once in the single and twice in the double, Kelly, Sr. was denied an entry in the 1920 Henley Royal Regatta in the men’s single event, the Diamond Challenge Sculls, because he had worked as a laborer. Kelly, Jr., was allowed entry into the event in 1947 and won.
“I’m truly honored to be recognized by USRowing and to join the group of Kelly award winners who’ve done so much for the sport,” Knopp said. “To be considered an inspiration to American rowers for following my passion gives me a great sense of pride. The Boathouse District in Oklahoma City is continuing to grow and I am very excited to see what the future holds and how we can continue to impact the sport of rowing in our community, across the nation, and even around the world.”
In announcing the award, USRowing Chief Executive Officer, Glenn Merry, called Knopp’s contributions to rowing in Oklahoma City unparalleled.
“ When I first met Mike almost 10 years ago, it was easy to recognize he was a rower with passion for the sport,” Merry said. “The leadership and vision he has brought to the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation is unparalleled. Under his leadership as CEO, the entire city has embraced the rowing brand.
“They created a venue from a dry ditch and leveraged that into building a boathouse row and finish tower rivaling the best in the world. His vision and the partnerships he built within and outside of the rowing community has resulted in an unheard of $100 million dollar investment for water sport in OKC. When I think of how Jack Kelly advanced amateur sport, Mike Knopp fits that standard. Congratulations Mike on this well deserved recognition,” he said.
Knopp, who grew up in Maryland watching crews from the United States Naval Academy, began rowing as a teenager in Annapolis and continued his passion while attending Oklahoma State University. After graduating law school and starting a career as an attorney, Knopp continued to row and sought to grow the sport in Oklahoma City.
He was a driving force in starting the first official rowing programs at Oklahoma City University and the University of Oklahoma, and was also instrumental in helping to organize the Oklahoma Association for Rowing at Lake Overholser in Oklahoma City.
In 2003, Knopp left his law career to become the head rowing coach at Oklahoma City University and then led a plan to use municipal and corporate funding to turn Oklahoma City into a national rowing center.
With Knopp’s guidance and vision, the Oklahoma River was widened and dredged and converted from little more than a trench into a rowable body of water with a full 2,000-meter racecourse. The development has seen the construction of two boathouses and a state-of-the-art finish line tower.
The first boathouse built was the Chesapeake Boathouse and from it, rowing was launched in Oklahoma City. The $10 million Devon Boathouse opened in 2010 and became home to OCU rowing and canoe/kayak programs, OKC Riversport, the OKC National High Performance Center and the USRowing Training Center – Oklahoma City.
Following the Devon Boathouse, development resulted in the construction and opening of the four-story Chesapeake Finish Line Tower, which includes a welcome center, elaborate timing area, media and race control centers, viewing gallery and observation deck.
Development continues with the construction of two more boathouses and also includes plans for a $35 million Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking Center and construction of the Oklahoma River Stadium, grandstands and floating stage.
The Boathouse District development has helped revitalized Oklahoma City’s downtown and nearby Bricktown, which are now a vibrant hotel, restaurant and sports and entertainment center within walking distance of the boathouses and river.
Under Knopp’s leadership, Oklahoma City has become a favorite venue for both national and international rowing and canoe/kayak events, including the OCU Head of the Oklahoma Regatta, which attracts more than 50,000 spectators. Now in its eighth year, the regatta will be held Oct. 6-7, is expecting more than 1,500 participants and will include night racing events.
In 2014, Oklahoma City is scheduled to be the site of the Canoe Marathon World Championships.
As a coach, Knopp led OCU to multiple championships and helped develop several current and potential U.S. national team athletes. He has also been recognized for his work with multiple awards including the Oklahoma City Business Record Forty Under Forty Award, Journal Record Achievers Under Forty Award, Leadership OKC Class XXV, March of Dimes Headliner Special, Harry Parry Award for Foundation Excellence and the Neil Horton Award, which is presented to a visionary who helps creates a renaissance in a part of the city.
USRowing recognizes individuals and organizations for their contributions and achievements in the sport in 14 categories.
Seven of the awards will be given at the Golden Oars Dinner including the USRowing Medal of Honor; awarded to Stan Pocock; Male Athlete of the Year, awarded to Glenn Ochal; Female Athlete of the Year, awarded to Oksana Masters; Jack Franklin Lifetime Achievement Award, awarded to Kate Godwin; Jack Kelly Award, awarded to Mike Knopp; Anita DeFrantz Award for Advancing Diversity in Rowing, to be announced Oct. 3; and the Isabel Bohn Award for Achievement in Adaptive Rowing, to be announced Oct. 4.
Seven additional USRowing Awards will be given November 29-December 2 at the 2012 USRowing Annual Convention in Oklahoma City, Okla. They include the John J. Carlin Service Award, to be announced Oct. 8; Clayton W. Chapman Award, to be announced Oct. 9; Joan Zandbergen “Mama Z” Award, to be announced Oct. 10; Julian Wolf Award, to be announced Oct 11; Man of the Year Award, to be announced Oct. 15; Ernestine Bayer Award (formerly Woman of the Year), to be announced Oct. 16; and the Club of the Year Award, to be announced Nov. 11.
Seven Fan’s Choice Awards also will be presented at the Golden Oars Awards Dinner. They include the National Team Rower of the Year; Junior Rower of the Year; Masters Rower of the Year, Collegiate Rower of the Year; Junior Coach of the Year; Masters Coach of the Year; and Collegiate Coach of the Year. All seven winners will be announced Oct. 24.
For more information about the Golden Oars Awards Dinner in New York City, visit www.usrowing.org. To purchase a ticket or secure a table, visit http://usrowing.tix.com.
The 2012 USRowing Annual Convention and Advanced Coaches Conference is open to all individual members of USRowing. Information for membership and convention registration can be found at http://www.usrowing.org/Events/AnnualConvention.aspx.
USRowing is a nonprofit organization recognized by the United States Olympic Committee as the governing body for the sport of rowing in the United States. USRowing’s official suppliers include Boathouse Sports, Vespoli, WinTech, Filippi, Croker Oars, Rudy Project, Concept2, Nielsen Kellerman, PowerHTV and Ludus Tours. USRowing also receives generous support from the National Rowing Foundation and its corporate sponsors and partners ANXeBusiness Corp, Voxer, EZ Dock, EMCVenues and Whole Foods. For more information, visit www.usrowing.org. The USRowing National Team program relies on strong partnerships to enable continued success. New opportunities exist to support the teams through the next quadrennial, culminating with the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. America Rows, which supports diversity in rowing and the USRowing adaptive programs also benefit from corporate support. For more information, please contact Beth Kohl at firstname.lastname@example.org.