Winter Training 2016-’17 Athlete Blogs

Day 9 – January 5th


Zack Peters
Hometown: Royal Oak, MI
Major: Finance and Marketing
Today was the last day on the water for the Laker Navy. I have thoroughly
enjoyed my time in Clermont. The Clermont Boathouse coaching staff has been
amazing and the community really made us feel welcome.

This morning the weather was great, the sun was shining, and the water was glass. It was the perfect morning to end a fantastic week. We filled our boats with water balloons and went out for a fun regatta of competitive leapfrog by fours. Each time a boat was getting passed it was allowed to throw two water balloons at the boat. It created a fun atmosphere for everyone involved.

After we finished the leapfrog regatta it was on to some technical training and video. We worked on some basic drills before stopping in the corner of the lake for a dip in the lake. We got back in the boat and rowed back to Clermont Boathouse. On land we proceeded to load the trailer and prepare for our trip home tomorrow. Once preparations were made we relaxed at the Lake Minneola beach
until the sunset. My group then had dinner at Lilly on The Lake before heading home to pack up for the trip home. Thank you to all of the donors and families that made this week possible. It means a lot to our program and has better prepared us for the Spring.

Women jumping in

Shelby Nesbitt
Hometown: Commerce, MI
Major: Behavioral Neuroscience
Today marks our last day here in Clermont, FL and it was a fantastic day to end our trip. The Laker Navy started off the day with a 9am practice in the beautiful 70 degree sunny weather. We were put into two eights and two fours and told we were doing some leap frog, but with a bit of a twist. While leap frogging, the crews threw water balloons at each other! You could hit a coxswain, a rower sitting out or a rower who was rowing. Coach B even got a few hits in from the launch! It made the leap frogs a chaotic but very fun workout. But we still had to keep the focus to piece together everything we’ve learned and worked on this trip. After a few rounds of leap frog all the boats went for a nice steady state row with some drills included to fine tune and enhance our technique. Following our practice we had to de-rig the boats and load the trailer. Then Coach B gave the group one final break down speech to close out the trip and the rowers were given the afternoon to do what we pleased.

Myself and group of others decided to go to a local beach on Lake Minneola to soak up some last minute sunshine. We brought a frisbee and volleyball with us to pass around both in the water and on the beach. It was a great way to unwind from a long trip with my teammates. On our way back to the house, some of us stopped by a frozen yogurt shop to get some much needed frozen yogurt and it was delicious! Back at the house we all just relaxed on the couch to watch some T.V. before we started cleaning the house and packing our things.

All in all it’s been a long and fulfilling trip for the Laker Navy. We’ve learned, laughed and had a ton of fun in the sun. The city of Clermont has been so welcoming to us and the boathouse is a great facility to row out of. Being a 4th year rower this is my final winter training trip, but it’s been one heck of a trip and I’m excited to see what the spring has in store for the Laker Navy. Until then, it’s back to Allendale and the erg. Thank you to everyone who helped make this trip possible! Go Lakers!

Drew Vielbig
Hometown: Fowlerville, MI
Major: Marketing
What a great day it was. We awoke at 8 am to convene at the boathouse for our last practice of the trip. I was-and I assume everyone else was-incredibly sore and tight from an intense week of two and three-a-days. We couldn’t have asked for better weather today. Mid 70’s, sunny, and no wind; the water smooth as glass.

After a mile run, team stretches, and a quick group meeting, we took to the water in fours and eights. Today’s practice differed slightly from what we had become accustomed to in the past week. Each boat was given 20 water balloons in order to play a game that Coach B pulled out of his sleeve. The game was simple- leap frog between two boats, but each rower in the opposing boat was also a target, worth ten points. To fully grasp the spectacle that this game was, you have to imagine the lack of hand-eye coordination that only a rower may possess. Needless to say, we all had a pretty good time with it. We played this “leap frog water balloon toss” game for about an hour, which turned out to be quite the workout.

Next, we moved on to one-hand rowing drills, alternating between outside hand rowing while pointing at the blade, inside hand rowing while outside hand facing forward, and rowing on the half feather. After several rotations of this, it was time to cool off. We took a break in the far corner of the lake to jump in and relax. After nearly two hours of strenuous drills and rowing with the sun beating down, the cool lake was incredibly refreshing. We continued practice by rowing across the lake focusing on balance and maximizing propulsion per stroke. After working on this for around 20 minutes, we entered the final stretch of practice- a race back to the dock. First starting out at a max rate of 28, we quickly jumped up to a “whatever it takes to win” rate of around 38 strokes per minute. We concluded our final row with an exhausting and rewarding taste of what spring race season would be like. After loading the trailer we had a meaningful and heartfelt group discussion with Coach B. After several hours out on the water, we were exhausted, hungry, and most were burnt to a rosy pink.

The rest of our afternoon was spent on the beach at Lake Minneola with the majority of our team. As a whole, we couldn’t have asked for a better day to conclude such a productive week of rowing. Clermont is a beautiful and welcoming community with so much to offer. I’m thankful for the hospitable Lake County Boat House who housed us for the week. Personally, I can’t wait to return to Clermont and take advantage of all that this great town has to offer.

Day 8 – January 4th

Donald Jensen
Hometown: Grosse Il, MI
Major: Mechanical Engineering
This morning we started off the same way as the other by creating and devouring massive amounts of
food, especially milk, to prepare for the day ahead. We ran down to the boat house in the lovely Florida
weather and prepared our pairs for a technical practice. We were all very appreciative of this after the
past two days of going hard in eights and on the erg. We used the time to focus on improving our stroke
with an emphasis on the recovery. We did circle drills and pause drill to help us continue to strive for the
perfect stroke. Unfortunately while Coach Costas was going to help one of the pairs, his motor came free
of the boat and ended up in the bottom of the lake. So unfortunately this lead to practice being a little
more difficult without Coach Costas able to be with us. However it was still a very productive practice.

After returning to the house where we are all staying, we quickly made lunch and cleaned up from the
row. Most of the guys and girls went off to a local beach on Lake Minneola where we are rowing,
however I was still exhausted so proceeded to take a nap. Then after waking up we began our afternoon
practice. The mens team loaded up some eights and went out for great session of battle paddle. It was
exhausting but going out and banging heads on the water is always a blast. Then we headed home for

For our last full coach surprised us with an amazing meal for dinner comprised of lots of Italian cuisine.
This 3 course meal was quickly destroyed by all of us and was greatly appreciated. And now we are all
hanging out and relaxing preparing for our last day of practice down here in Clermont.

Rachel Keller
Hometown: Carol Stream, IL
Major: Biomedical Science
Hello family, friends, and fellow rowing enthusiasts! Today was another fun filled day of rowing for the laker navy. We started the day off with morning practice at 8:30 am, everyone enjoyed the late start and extra sleep. Today was also the last full day of practice which is very bittersweet for most of the team considering the below twenty degree weather we will be returning to in Michigan.

The women were in fours this morning and we started off practice with circles drills, circle drills are drills where only one side of the boat rows so that the boat spins in a circle. We also started to do some drills on the half feather and full feather which we were all pretty pumped about since we’ve been on the square for most of our time here. After a great technical morning row we took a nice walk through town and walked past all the shops back to the town. One of my favorite things to see on the walk home are all the little lizards sunbathing on the sidewalk, their so cute!!

We had a nice long break today and returned to practice at 3pm. The sun was shining and hardly any wind was blowing, the perfect conditions for our 2 by 30 minute ski jump pieces. The pieces today really showed how hard we’ve been working and all the great improvements that have been made this past week.

After the row the women’s team hitched a ride in the back of the team truck back to our house where we had a quick break to shower and help prepare some food for the incredible dinner Coach B made for us. Tonight’s menu consisted of lasagna, noodles and red sauce, Coach B’s take on Mac and cheese, cooked spinach, bread, and delicious apple pie! We are all very thankful to end this trip with a excellent meal!

This trip has been a great experience and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to come! With happy full tummies, the Laker navy is back relaxing at the house with just one more practice left in the morning then back to the great state of Michigan! Pull for the Laker Navy!!

Jacob Jones
Hometown: Onondaga, MI
Major: Criminal Justice
The morning started off with a quick practice, the varsity men were in pairs and one four. We were doing circle drills working on the recovery and the catch. The goal was to work on a smooth recovery and a quick but strong catch, we did this through circle drills with pauses and throughout the recovery. While working on drills a shoe in one of the pairs came off the foot stretcher, the men in the pair signaled coach Costas to come help them repair it. On his way to help the pair the motor on his launch came loose and fell into the water, he was able to grab the gas line attached to the motor. Costas was able to hold onto the motor via the gas line for a few minutes before it broke, at this point the motor sank and Costas was left holding onto a broken gas line. He called to other coaches to come and help him return to the dock, then men worked on drills for a few more minutes before also returning to the dock. This was then end of the morning practice, the coaches told us to be back by three o’clock for the afternoon practice.

After returning from practice and getting our food for lunch a group of us gathered and ate outside at the picnic table. After eating lunch and talking for about an hour we decided to go swimming, we went to a beach a mile from the duplex. We hung out there for a few hours before returning to the duplex to go to the afternoon practice. We spent time swinging before playing volleyball, there was no net so we counted the number of times we could hit the ball before it hit the ground. After playing volleyball for about an hour we went for a swim and took time to cool off from the heat. After spending a few hours at the beach we headed back to the duplex to regroup with the rest of the team.

Coach Bancheri rejoined the varsity men for the afternoon practice, he gave the men much needed advice throughout practice. The men spent the first thirty minutes of practice working on drills to help with a smooth recovery. The main part of practice was spent doing steady state with the two eights trying to out tow each other. During the steady state he helped me with getting more swing from my shoulders throughout the drive. This helped me to get a stronger and more efficient stroke, it also helped me to get a longer stroke to match the taller guys in my boat. I look forward to the last practice and seeing what Coach Bancheri has in store for the Varsity men.

Day 7 – January 3rd

Ben Williams
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Major: Political Science
Today was another long day for the Laker Navy, we begun our last day of having three practices
at 7:30 a.m. It was overcast today, but that proved to be a nice break in the heat, but it was still
warm and humid. As we got to practice we begun with a talk from assistant coach Costas, about
continuing to focus on using the legs to ensure an effective stroke. We got on the water and had
our first practice accentuating drills and steady rowing together to get a feel for the movements
and engraining the changes that we had made.

After a short break, we changed up the line ups in the boats and went back out in 8’s to refocus
on swinging together and moving as a unit. Today was a really good day in terms of work done,
we all were tired following the morning sessions, but satisfied with how everything went.
Before we headed out to the afternoon session, the sun began to break through the clouds and
the gorgeous Florida weather really shone through.

However with the sun and broken clouds came quite strong winds. As we launched for our
afternoon practice, we immediately knew it was going to be interesting to say the least. We
rowed through very rough water, waves breaking over our gunwales and drenching our
coxswain. But. Despite this. We had a very good time! Spirits were high, and Coach Costas
coached and encouraged us from the launch, and assured us the water would flatten out soon.
Before long though it did, and we finished out the row with some drills and hard strokes on flat

Once we returned to the docks, we were greeted with a barbecue dinner from Coach Michelle’s
cousin, who runs a catering service for barbecue. This was a great end to the day, we all left the
boathouse full and happy. Once we returned home, we watched The Return of the Jedi and
spent some time enjoying each other’s company. Another great day for the Lakers!

Tiffany Curtis
Hometown: Downers Grove, IL
Major: Criminal Justice
Today started out just like any other: alarm set for 6:30am, a light breakfast, and a jog down to the boathouse. This morning the sky was overcast so it was nice to get out of the sun for a bit. The first half of practice was spent working on rowing at lower stroke rates in order to really focus on technique. This portion lasted for about 90min then we had a snack before the 2nd half of practice. During this hour we did a lot of stationary drills by all eight. After two great rows, the team headed back to our townhouse for some lunch.

Our second practice of the day consisted of more work by all eight and by sixes. We did wide-grip and “pointer” drills which help us to get the rotation at the catch. Following the evening practice we had a scrumptious BBQ dinner provided for us by Coach Michelle’s cousin, Johnny. Now it’s off to the townhouse for some relaxing and team bonding before tomorrow’s practice.

Cameron Ulrich
Hometown: Northville, MI
Major: Finance, Human Resource Management
My name is Cameron Ulrich, practice today started nice and early at 7:30 am. I have been working off a minor knee injury so instead of jogging to practice Coach gave me the team bike to ride back and forth. It has been feeling better every day. Unfortunately Coach Bancheri could not be with us at practice today, so Coach Costas and Coach John Reichner, stepped in and helped out. Our first session was about 90 minutes of water time. We focused mainly on the release and the finish. I sat in bow seat behind Simon Klida, who was stroke seat of our novice eight last year. Being able to follow his stroke and rhythm was very beneficial.

We took a break between sessions for about thirty minutes. We changed lineups in the eights for the second one. Simon and I sat stroke pair with Claire Krajkowski, a novice coxswain. It has been awhile since I was stroke pair in a boat and coach switching me to starboard did not make things easier. However, switching has been very helpful for my technique. It has really helped me improve my lateral pressure throughout the stroke as well as my rotation around the rigger. This session was only 60 minutes. Costas told us to start heading back to the dock but surprises us by making us row a few kilometers past the dock before actually heading in. This gave us an extra opportunity to really apply everything we had worked on today and last week.

Our third practice was the hardest from today. The waters were very rough and we covered the most distance. At one point we had to stop to bale out water from the boat. It was good practice for rough water regattas though! Afterwards we were lucky to have a visit from Dennis Kamrad. He spoke to us about his tins at Grand Valley and how important team comradery is. He told us something he found on Facebook that stuck with him – “right now is the oldest you have ever been and the youngest you’ll ever be again. So live it up.” Afterwards, Coach Goodwin’s cousin provided us with an amazing barbeque dinner.

I am really looking forward to the rest of the week.
Row Lakers!

Day 6 – January 2nd

Men's Varsity Eights

Elliot Rieth
Hometown: East Grand Rapids, MI
Major: Public Relations
Today was jam packed for the Laker Navy. Heading out of the house early to get to practice at 7:30, the men ran through the humidity and the heat of Florida to make it on time. Our first practice started with a chalk talk about a concept that Coach B refers to as the “tip of the spear”. We used oars to view the importance of placing the tip of the blade in order to pry through the water in order to better move the boat. Once we got out onto the water, we split into two groups, with the top men being in pairs. I was in the “Nancy Lubbers” with my pair partner, Simon. We performed drills working on “touch” and the drive. It felt good to be back out rowing in the pairs with my friends. Seeing all the pairs glide across the water together was like watching a fleet of ships enter into battle. The smooth motion of all the boats was simultaneously thrilling and calming to me. Once we had finished our drills, we came back into land for a short break.

Our second practice consisted of going out in 8’s. We rowed two thirty minute pieces by sixes, alternating rates to work on the send. The weather did not cooperate, which made these rather difficult. However, it felt good to work and start to feel the progress we have been making throughout the trip. Once we finished our pieces, we came back into shore and took part in a good team stretch. We headed back to the men’s townhouse and enjoyed some downtime. I had some food and took part in some chores around the house before enjoying a quick nap. I also was able to hammock with some team mates and enjoy some downtime with friends before getting ready for third practice.

For our third practice of the day, we went for a swing row and took a 3k test at a 22 stroke rate for score. The team improved well overall on the 3k score, I personally dropped two and a half splits off of my previous test. After the test, the men reveled in their success and went for a quick dip in the lake. Once we dried off, we headed back home to prepare for a wonderful dinner put on for us by the Clermont boat club. The food, company, and conversation were all great. I have truly appreciated how accommodating the locals have been to us, as well as kind. Once we finished dinner, we headed home to watch The Empire Strikes Back and unwind. Overall, a good day to be in the Laker Navy.

Morning Sunrise on team stretching

Cass Bruins, Women’s Team Captain
Hometown: Colorodo Springs, CO
Major: Clinical Exercise Science, Nutrition
Hello and thank you for choosing the Grand Valley Crew blogs.

My name is Cass, and I will be guiding you through the journey of our wonderful, Monday in Clermont, and second day of the new year! Ready, set, go!

While our afternoon at the beach was quite the treat yesterday, today we came back to full training today with three-a-day practices. This morning was an early practice on the water in 4+’s. We had a technical practice; primarily focusing on the drive sequence. It was a HOT morning on Lake Minneola.

Our second practice was a long one. We went out in the 8 and did about an hour and a half of pieces. The pieces at the low rates are one of the best and worst things ever. It seems like we row for hours, but you can really feel the propulsion per stroke and that’s a huge part of our focus this week.

A few of us took some R&R time hanging out and hammocking (some pun intended) at the house before our after noon practice. A huge part of the Laker Navy’s bonding is off the water, doing things like that together. It’s something that brings each of us together, because it’s almost always a different group of people hanging out!

Afternoon practice was brutal, not gonna lie. We had a 3k ergo and 45 minute technical row. It was also very hot and humid, making the workout less then ideal. However, per usual, the crew conquered it all! The women started with the ergo, and most of us did very well despite being quite exhausted from this mornings pieces. The technical row to follow was just what we needed as a team. Very clean, powerful, focused, and of course, fun going all 8 for the first time this trip!

Following practice we were treated to dinner by the Clermont Crew Rowing Club! Dinner was amazing and we all ate way too much (Not like that is any different from any other dinner that the team devours). The club was so nice, inviting our club for dinner and they also gave us a bunch of prizes and rowing novelties as well! It was very cool getting to meet the coaches as well as the athletes there and to see how committed they are to growing their new program, similar to how we strive to grow ours. They were very welcoming to the crew and we all appreciated it more than words can explain.

Well I’m not very good at ending speeches or papers or blogs or anything, really. So this is Cass Bruins, signing off! Go Lakers !

The boathouse dock Panoramic

Ben Norrix
Hometown: Rockwood, MI
Major: Group Social Studies
After a fun day at the beach yesterday, we followed with a great day of training. The morning started at 6:45 when I had a great breakfast of cereal. I got ready for practice and the team headed outside ready to go. We ran from the townhouse where we are staying to the boathouse. Our first practice today was in pairs. I was in the “Ted”. We launched and began doing stationary drills. Three bobs to hands away, Three bobs to the catch, etc. We then did drive drills from one end of the lake to the next. Our focus was putting the tip of the blade into the water and backing in the blade. Once we arrived across the lake we spun around and did back it down drills before transitioning into steady state and headed toward the dock to get ready for our second row of the day.

Our second row today was in eights. We launched and did a quick warmup before we began a 2×30 minute ski jumps around the lake by sixes. We began each piece at a 14 and rose it two beats every two minutes. We switched a pair every six minutes and dropped the rate two beats at that time before beginning to raise it again. We followed this by getting to row by all eight for the first time this trip. When we reached the dock after the second piece we had a team stretch before walking back to the townhouse. When I arrived back, I decided to make some scrambled eggs for lunch. We all then relaxed in the living room and did our homework assigned to us by coach B. At three o’clock we all got up and got ready and headed off for our third practice of the day.

We arrived at the boathouse ready for the ergo that we knew was coming only to find out that we were going out on the water first for a bit. We launched and rowed along the shore line before turning around and heading back to the dock. When the boat was down in tee’s we headed over to where we had the ergs set up. We went in two groups of eight. We were doing a 3k for score. I improved by .6 seconds over my last 3k from a few days ago. Once we had all finished our ergo we ran to the dock and most of us jumped off into the lake for a cool down. We then headed back to take showers and get dressed for a dinner being hosted by the Lake County Rowing Association. We got there and they had provided us with so much food and then gave us a bunch of free stuff to take home with us. They have been such great hosts to us while we have been here I just want to thank them so much. After the dinner we went back and ended the day in the best way possible. Team bonding and watching Star Wars.

Day 5 – January 1st


Simon Klida
Hometown: Auburn, MI
Major: Athletic Training
I woke up early for practice this morning surprisingly well after having a late new years night. It helps when it’s a warm bright Florida morning. After grabbing some breakfast and coffee I ran with the guys to the boathouse. We started with a nice technical pairs practice where we worked on the the catch and drive sequence. I really focused on the last four inches of the recovery and hitting the “bell note” when placing the blade back and in the water. We then got into eights for a row around the lake where we put all the pieces of the drive together that we worked on in the pairs. After practice I was able to change and have a fast lunch before we left for Cocoa beach. I had a pleasant nap in the van and slept through most of the ride. The beach was beautiful, the ice cream was good, and I had a lot of fun surfing. It was wonderful having an afternoon off and having some fun in the sun. Now it’s time for me to eat a rower sized dinner and get some sleep for more practices tomorrow.

Rowing by sixes

Aiden McCoy
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Major: Exercise Science
Crawled out of bed today with nothing but a banana for breakfast. I hobbled with my team to the boathouse with tight hamstrings and very sore legs, but after the stretch we were all ready to get out on the water. Today was one practice focusing mainly on lateral pressure and rotation through the stroke. We went out in two eights and one man in a single. Our drills included outside arm only, wide grip rowing by six’s, and pointing with our inside hand to the blade through the stroke. after an hour we decided to call it a day. I feel that I really have learned the most in this particular practice. The drills we used really had an impact on how I now think about my stroke.

After practice, we all decided to go to Coca Beach as a team bonding experience. I rented a surfboard and was able to stand up on my first wave! I was in the ocean for at least 2 hours, and after more attempts then I can count I was able to surf. I went to bed today after ordering six pizza’s and laughing at TV shows with some of my best friends. Im happy to say that this week as a whole has made me a better oarsmen, and a better sportsmen in general. The entire day was by far the best day I’ve had this week, I’ve gotten closer to all my team mates and I’m excited to see what the rest of the week has to offer.

Women in Fours

Rachel Andrud
Hometown: Milford, MI
Major: Biomedical Science
After a late but fun night in downtown Orlando, the varsity women woke up ready to kick off 2017 with our first morning practice of the year. Everyone woke up right around 7:30 and ran the 1-1/2 mile to the boathouse at 8 for our 8:30 am practice. We stretched as a team before a short chalk talk with Coach B. He reiterated the importance of maintaining posture throughout our stroke along with keeping pressure on the “button” of the oarlock. Both of these things will increase the power and strength of our stroke.

The women were split up into an 8 and a pair, with Cass and Faith (our co-captains) rowing in a pair with the men for the morning practice. I was 7 seat in the 8 and the main focus of the practice was posture and suspension at the catch. We did the Russian drill, back it down drill and bobs at the catch with a short stroke or “kick” after the bob, which increased in number as we went through the drill. We finished off practice with a nice steady state, fighting some choppy water on the way into the dock.

After our morning practice, we all hurried back to the townhouse to make a quick lunch before we headed to Cocoa Beach. We were super excited for fun afternoon spent along the ocean. While at the beach the team split off into smaller groups with some surfing, others playing frisbee, some swimming, and the rest of us walking along the water looking for seashells. We found an awesome ice cream place at the pier close to the beach and enjoyed the sweet treat while listening to a live band and watching other beach goers surf or play volleyball. Too soon we had to leave for Clermont and so we all headed back into the vans at 5 for the hour and half ride home. The women’s team all ate out at a local restaurant named Lilly’s while the men’s team ordered in Chinese food.
Everyone on the team is thankful for the coaches spending their afternoon driving us to and from the beach after spending most of last night with us downtown. In my opinion, GVSU rowing is excited for a new year of rowing and is ready for our championship season coming up soon.

Day 4 – December 31st

New Year's Eve Rockin and Rowin Regatta

Amber Crotty
Hometown: Muskegon, MI
Major: Biomedical Science
Woke up bright and early at 6:30am to prepare breakfast for the women’s team. I made cheesy scrambled eggs, toast, bagels and one of the girls made orange juice. After a fulfilling breakfast, the coxswains made their way to the course about ten minutes before the rowers started their brisk jog. The morning had a slight chill to it, a measly 50 degrees, but the sun was shining and made the walk alongside Lake Minneola delightful. We came across some locals who were running, every Saturday at 7:00am they setup a free 5K run, which starts in the Clermont Historical Village and ends near the boathouse that we are using. After arriving at the boathouse we began to lead a team stretch. One of the locals introduced himself and gave us some free homemade bagels. We thanked him and introduced ourselves as the magnificent Grand Valley Rowing Team. He commented on my cornrows, which were done the night before by the beautiful/talented Jessie Hasaneu (she was trying to help me represent Muskegon on the last day of the year, SHOUT OUT!). After the coaches arrived we sat some ergs up for the women, while the men embarked on a journey to unknown/new territory in their pairs. While the women did technique related stuff on the erg, the coxswains had a small chat with Vinny, a national USA coxswain. Our little novice coxswain (the adorable Claire) asked Vinny about how to change up what/how we say things in the boat. He gave us a few examples, specifically focusing on the catch and timing into the catch. After the talk with Vinny he took off with Coach B to monitor the men in the pairs. The women were split up into fours, along with a mixed four. After a short warmup row starting with swing-pick and working our way up to full slide, the women worked on timing into the catch and applying pressure on the front of the blade. Using the circle drill method, which is simply having one side at a time row in a complete circle (hints at the clever name). The circle drill is a unique way to establish a rhythm and consistent flow on one side of the boat, rather then by pairs. After the technical portion of practice, the boats got together to row steady-state across Lake Minneola at a 4:1 to 3:1 ratio. The women really started to feel the difference into the catch and the implementation of technique on the power. Which is/was very exciting to hear and see. This group of girls have been working hard everyday, and of course have been frustrating. The clarity of physical confusion gives hope to a successful Spring Season for the Grand Valley Women’s Rowing Team, and I am very excited to be the coxswain that will be apart of it.

Rowing the Pair

Christopher Doherty, Captain and Vice-President
Hometown: Traverse City
Major: Clinical Exercise Science

Today was a day. It started off like any other, Zack, Rob and myself woke up early in the morning at the hotel a short distance from the boathouse. Another surprisingly cold morning, we quickly ate breakfast and headed for the lake.

We were greeted For the men, the early morning practice was held in pairs. It was nice to work on technique and form under the rising sun. As the the sunlight beat off the morning cold, a small cove harbored our small fleet. With Coach B. leading the drills, we worked our way through a progression starting at the top of the drive. The improvement from the beginning of the day to the end was noticeable: when we came in everyone had gained important knowledge about gaining inches at the catch. My pair partner, Brandon Roberts, and I won the “ten stroke race” and went the furthest out of our pairs. A small but notable victory.

After lunch and a feature presentation of Pokemon 2000, some naps were had and trips to the lake made.

In the afternoon we held out “New Years Regatta.” Our four coaches, Allison, Michelle, Spencer and Coastas all drafted athletes and boats to form our crews. The mixed eights went out and did a few low rate, high power pieces all out. While my crew did not win, we did have some great pieces and fought hard until the end. The last strokes of 2016 were tough, but I wouldn’t have finished the year any other way.

For the new year, we are taking a trip to the Orange Drop in nearby Orlando. We will send off a successful 2016, the final fall season of my rowing career, and welcome in 2017 as a team. The spring season will be both exciting and bittersweet as my last.

Its been a great winter training so far, the best of my four years here. Thanks for your support!

Rowing into the sunset

Maddy Moldenhauer
Hometown: Marysville, MI
This morning, the varsity women took advantage of the later am practice to cook up a nice breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs, toast, bagels and fruit. Then, we got prepped and ready to head to the boathouse for practice. When we left it was a chilly 40 degrees but it heated up fast during our run to the boathouse. In Clermont on Saturday mornings the event known as the Park Run is held as a free 5k open to the community. The race starts at the boathouse and course follows the boardwalk along Lake Minneola. There was a pretty huge turnout for the run. It was great to see so many active people in the community!

Once we all arrived at the boathouse, we had a group stretch and team meeting. The men launched in small boats while the women did some drills on the ergs to focus on posture and technique at the catch. The main focus was to approach the catch and start the drive with the legs while hanging on the handle engaging the lats. This would allow for the preparation for a powerful drive sequence during the stroke. After that we got on the water in fours for the morning practice. We towed along the shoreline doing the drills that we focused on while we were in the erg. We started with bobs at the catch and completing 6 inches of the drive, then progressed with drills until we were rowing full strokes. The weather was beautiful and the sun felt great while we rowed around the lake this morning. It was a longer, but very purposeful practice!

Once we all got off the water and put the boats away, we had another team stretch and broke it down before heading back to the house for lunch. We are very fortunate to be in the nice town of Clermont! As we made our way back I was approached by multiple people that were curious and asked about us rowing on Lake Minneola and where we were from. A lot of them were astonished by us wearing a tank top and shorts during the “chilly” mornings while they were layered with even hats and gloves. Even with the perceived coldness that came through it feels very mild and comfortable for our practices here in Florida.

We are also very fortunate this year with the food that has been provided to the rowing team during this trip. We arrived back at the house and were able to make sandwiches with what we have been provided and rag some of the leftovers from previous dinners. Some of us have also bought some groceries to make smoothies for a good post-workout drink. The townhouse has also allowed for the women to bond as a group while we’re eating or relaxing in the living room when compared to the separate hotel rooms that we are used to. After lunch some of the crew went out hammocking at a public park on the lake. The views are fantastic and we are able to relax in the shade under patches of trees near the shoreline. We relaxed for an hour or so and made our way back to the house before our afternoon practice. During our afternoon practice we had races in eights. The eights were drafted by each of the coaches, so there was a mix of men and women in the boats to make them even. It was a lot of fun racing! Each boat represented a different country (Antarctica, Greenland, Greece, and Poland) and we did 6 races rowing by 6s where we would switch a pair of rowers in and out every 2 minutes. For each piece, we were able to row hard strokes for 6 minutes and sit out, catch our breath, and cheer on our boat for the 2 minutes we sat out. It was different to feel the speed of the men with 6 men in our boat. These races were quite the adrenaline rush and definitely a great practice to end the year.

Some of us jog back to the houses to get the first shot at a shower, but after this practice we were all dead from the pieces so we walked back as a team. Then we got ready to drive to downtown Orlando for a New Years celebration for the night.

Day Three – December 30th


Brandon Roberts
Hometown: Dearborn Heights, MI
Major: Information Systems and Philosophy
This morning started like every other morning, with the men cooking ourselves breakfast and running to the boathouse. We all left the house together to run as a squad and it was extremely cold and windy. The winds were so bad, that coach decided to keep the boats on land and bust out the ergs. He began our daily chalk talk with one of our captains, Chris Doherty, displaying to us the “ABC” drill on the erg. This drill was designed to show us how to get the most amount of meters out of each time the blade entered and exited the water. We finished up morning practice with some big team drills, a 1x3k for score, a boat christening (with special guest Matt LeBlanc), and a short run back to the house.

The house was pretty calm in between practices because a handful of team went to a coffee shop in town, while the rest of us hung out and watched TV/napped. Evening practice began with another run to the boathouse, and the men went out in straight/coxed fours while the women went out in an eight. I can not speak for everybody, but I really feel that this evening’s practice helped me out with improving upon my catch and really working on my send. We could not get back quick enough because dinner tonight was Chicken Nuggets, Fish Sticks, and Macaroni and Cheese, cooked for us by the captains. A handful of people went to the store, but now a group of us are hanging out and watching Star Wars: A New Hope.

The trip has hardly started and we have already packed so much work into it. I can not wait to see how it turns out!

Rowing into the sunset

Zoe Niswonger
Hometown: Ada, MI
Major: Education
Today the team began their day with the usual morning jog to the Clermont Boathouse. Anticipating high winds, we ended up doing some skill and drill on the ergs and a 3k test to put us in seats for tomorrows scrimmage. Skill and drill’s primary focus was on the catch of the stroke. Coach B makes a point of raising our hands into the catch and the immediate connection on the lats and keeping appropriate body preparation while doing so. After our break we did a 3k which determines tomorrows lineups for our scrimmage. We had the honor of christening the “Matt LeBlanc” Boat as well today, which was donated to us by the University of Michigan. The team then headed home and made lunch and meandered around the town of Clermont then made our way back to the boathouse. For practice number two we braved the wind and waves and found ourselves and sheltered spot on the lake to do some more catch work. Coach B emphasized the “Jackson 5” drill, referring to the “A, B,C” sequence at the top of the stroke. After practice the team headed back to the townhouse to rest up for the evening practice. The women had a great day out on the water and we’re all looking forward to getting some sleep tonight.

I’m really looking forward to getting some good strokes on the water this trip!

Using the legs

Chris Nelson
Hometown: Fort Wayne, IN
Major: Information Systems
The start of our third day in Florida did not begin terribly well. As soon as we left the house the wind assaulted us, and checks of the weather revealed that a Small Craft Advisory had been issued until 4pm.

The wind raced across the lake and whipped up 3 foot whitecaps, making going out in any rowing shell a losing proposition. Doing what the Laker Navy does best we adapted, running through a much needed team calisthenics and deep stretch. Working extra length into out hamstrings not only felt good, it makes sure we can get more length in each stroke.

Once we had stretched we ran through drills on the erg, today focusing on feeling the suspension at the catch. A strap was wrapped around the erg handle and led through the cage, with a partner hanging onto the end to make it easy to feel the suspension as you lifted yourself off the seat.

Continuing on the theme we did 1 minute drills at differing stroke rates and drags, starting at 22 strokes per minute (spm) and the drag set at ten, then stepping down to reach 30 spm at a drag of 4. The goal was to developed propulsion per stroke, which means covering the most distance with each pull of the handle. This was exhausting, even though they were only a minute long.

Once these were done and we had a short break, the team took shifts to do a 3k piece, for score. This 3k hurt pretty bad, but once this was done the morning section of practice was done, and we stored the ergs, stretched and meandered home.

The Small Craft Advisory pushed practice back to 4pm, giving us an extra hour in our midday break. During our morning practice the economic development liaison came and spoke to us, welcoming the team to Clermont and telling us about a local smoothie shop, and I took the break to wander there. The smoothie was good, and with my nose in my book the break passed quickly.

At four the wind was blowing its last, and by the time my four warmed up and did drills to the other side of the lake it had died completely. The water smoothed to near glass, and doing drills until the sky going pink was glorious. Rowing back to the dock was wonderful, the boat slicing through the smooth water easily.

It was a good day.

Day Two – December 29th

Sunset on the Laker Navy

Rob Hiner, Men’s Team Captain
Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Today started out with a beautiful sunrise over the lake before our first morning practice that put the whole team in a good mood. I had the chance to row the single for the first practice of the day. It was fun to row alongside my friend Donnie Jensen. It felt great to shake off the rust and get in some good mileage as we rowed a couple laps of the lake. The second morning practice was spent doing drills in pairs. I was once again paired with Donnie and we had an extremely productive session working on the recovery sequence. I am excited to see the whole team improving after only several practices. I can feel myself getting faster and I’m eager to see what the team can accomplish by the end of the trip.

After morning practice the team returned to the townhouse and made some lunch. We flipped on the tv and watched a Star Trek marathon while we rested. I fully enjoyed the down time with my teammates where we could catch up with each other and share how we spent our holidays. I’m happy to see all of my teammates again and I’m glad that everyone enjoyed their time off but I’m most of all happy to be back training alongside them again. I am truly lucky to have such great teammates.

Once we got our fix of Spock and Captain Kirk, we returned to the Clermont boathouse and prepared for our final practice of the day. The wind had picked up and it drizzled on and off but we were all still eager to get in the water. We launched in two eights and worked on the drive sequence. After completing the prescribed drills we ended the practice with some fun 2 v 2 races. These races are fun because there are 7 people to cheer on the two people in the boat racing. They often get quite intense. After a long day I am ready to get to bed early an do it again tomorrow. I am excited to see what the rest of our training trip holds in store for us.


Karissa Cloud
Hometown: Ada, MI
Major: Speech Language Pathology
After getting some much needed sleep, I woke up at 6:30 energized and ready to go. With a quick breakfast and packing up for practice I could not wait for the second day to start. I walked this morning with the other coxswains and carried some snacks for the rowers to eat between practices. We got to the boathouse and in the east on the tree line was a beautiful sunrise. Pictures truly do not serve it any justice and I’m so thankful to be in Florida and get some much needed sun.

Once the coaches arrived we set up for a quick chalk talk. Coach B resurfaced a few topics we practiced yesterday and used the “whole-part-whole” method of teaching. Yesterday was an overview of the stroke and today we began to break it down and isolate important details. With focus on the stretch and hang of the lats and back muscles, we rowed many strokes on the swing pick (just back and arms). Quickly building on top of the swing pick and lengthening to full slide, emphasis was kept on the swing and shoulder movement. Being in a men’s eight made our lap around the lake quick. The boys are like my brothers, and we haven’t gone a day without laughing and having a good time.

While the team was stretching and grabbing a few snacks, the coxswains got the new boat assignments. Varsity men went out in small boats and because they did not need me to cox, I was with the women. The wind was beginning to pick up which added some chop to the lake, but I knew the ladies could handle it. In fours, the women worked on similar drills I had done earlier with the men. With an hour in, it was time to return to the boathouse. Our walk back to the team townhouse is about a mile and we made some lunch in the kitchen. A few groups went to go hammock and some girls and I stayed back in the A/C to watch a movie.

As we were walking to our second practice the wind was picking up and throwing a few strong gusts. With another quick chalk talk over it was time for our afternoon row. I was back with the men and we did a few battle paddles. Everyone was cheering each other on and the inner squad competition was exciting. Although we had only a few minutes of hard strokes, it makes me very excited to get back on the course and race. Our long day was wrapped up with lasagna the coaches bought and put in the ovens for us. With day two down I am excited to see the improvements we will make through the rest of this trip. Spring racing can not come soon enough.

Varsity Women

Jessie Hasenau
Hometown: Livonia MI
Major: Clinical Exercise Science
My day began bright and early with a 6:30am wake up call and the women’s team scrambling for a bagel before our morning run to practice. It was another gorgeous sunrise and already 64 degrees. Once we got there, coach announced we would be rowing pairs for the first half of practice, which made some of us nervous because of our lack of practice in small boats. So practice was all the more beneficial, removing us from our comfort zones and making us either better technical rowers or flip. None of us flipped so you can say we all got a little better this morning.

A quick docking, snack, and stretch then back out in the fours. Right away you could see our catches become more crisp. Focusing on one of the hardest drills next, the equilibrium drills, our patience was tested. It challenged abilities until we worked together to set the boat.

After lunch some of us went hammocking until afternoon practice that began with a chalk talk from Coach B. The emphasis was on not breaking the arms; more commonly called suspension or hanging on the oar. He had us pair up with a partner, sit toe-to-toe, hang on to the each other’s wrists, and pull them up. This simulated hanging on the oar and demonstrated if you break your arms your parter would never get off the ground. Then we launched in the eights for a technical practice.

Lesson of the day: never give rowers a frozen lasagna to cook for dinner after practice. Some will try to eat while still half frozen.

Day One – December 28th


Zack Peters
Hometown: Royal Oak, MI
Major: Finance and Marketing

This morning I arrived in Clermont Florida at 6 am. I was a part of the group that rode the vans down from Grand Valley. After a quick nap, we prepared breakfast from ingredients provided by the team. The townhouse that the team is living in is equipped with a full kitchen, so making breakfast was quick and easy.

After breakfast the men’s team set out on a mile run to the Clermont boathouse. It is a beautiful venue and the weather is much better than the ice and snow of Michigan. Our morning practice started with a long chalk talk focusing on the relaxation and timing of the recovery. We then rowed around the entire lake in eights and got acclimated to the humidity. This row really helped brush the dust off of our rowing technique.

We then enjoyed lunch at the townhouse before returning to the boathouse for an evening technical practice in pairs. We spent a lot of time doing circle drills and stationary drills. After practice we cleaned all of our boats, so the salt from the trip does not corrode the hardware. We finished the day with a pizza dinner provided for us at the boathouse from Napoli’s Restorante and Pizzeria in Old Clermont. Overall it was a fantastic day. Thank you to all of donors and parents that make this trip possible.

Women's Varsity 4+

Faith Platz, Women’s Team Captain
Hometown: Grand Haven, MI
Major: Statistics and Economics

Today was our first day down in Clermont, and it has definitely been a change of pace being in the 85° sun! This morning we got to the very nice Clermont Boathouse and rigged our boats. Apparently we are the first college team to use this facility, so we are very grateful for this opportunity! We then had a chalk talk to brush up on our rowing technique before hitting the water. Then we headed out onto Lake Minneola for our morning row, where started to work out the kinks in our rowing after being off the water for so long.

After practice, we headed back to the townhouse and had a few hours of much needed rest and relaxation. For many of us, we arrived very late last night (or even this morning), so most of us napped the afternoon away. Our townhouse is very comfortable and it is so great to have the whole team altogether instead of being in a hotel. We are very fortunate to be in a place like this! For our second practice, we worked even more on our technique in fours. After a short row, we washed all our boats and ate some delicious pizza from Napoli’s Italian Ristorante and Pizzeria in Downtown Clermont. Some of us then headed to the store to stock up on some sustenance for the week.

It was a great start to what I am sure will be an even better week, and I look forward to the warm weather, sunshine and (hopefully) tanner skin. Keep pulling for the Laker Navy!

Learning from each other

Jacob Spiess
Hometown: Whitehouse, OH
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Yesterday I flew to Orlando from Detroit. This is the first time I have ever been to Florida and am very excited to be here.

Today was the first day on the water since winter started and it was nice to finally take some strokes in a boat as opposed to an erg. The weather was 80 degrees as we were running from our house to the Lake County Rowing Center; the boathouse that we launched from. The facilities here are absolutely gorgeous and we are all very happy to be here.

After the practice we washed the boats and put them away for the day. In our free time after practice, I joined a group of people who went out for a walk in downtown Clermont. Down there we found a great bookstore called the Rabbit Hole, which had a lot of cool books and comic memorabilia and a neat little frozen yogurt place. I think this is the start of what looks like an amazing experience and winter training trip.

The Grand Valley State University Rowing Club challenges its student-athletes to reach the highest level to which they aspire both academically and athletically, while continuing to build and sustain a nationally competitive intercollegiate rowing program.

Copyright 2016-2017 Grand Valley State University Rowing Club. All Rights Reserved.