Day Six- Thursday, March 6, 2014
Posted on Thursday, March 6th, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Sunset Row

Spencer West(Captain) ’15
Major: Wildlife Biology
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

Today began as these mornings typically do: with everyone being woken up by their alarms for a hearty team breakfast before the usual morning practice. This year, as opposed to the norm of staying at a commercial hotel, we have had the luxury of making our temporary residence at the Historic Dodgertown, where the Brooklyn/LA Dodgers used for spring training from 1948 all the way until 2008. The history here is remarkable and an experience in itself, being the site where Jackie Robinson, the first African- American MLB player, trained with the Dodgers until 1956. At Dodgertown, we are spoiled with a delicious all-you-can-eat breakfast, which we all know is something that rowers can appreciate and take advantage of. The facility also includes a large outdoor swimming pool, basketball and tennis courts, a sand volleyball court, shuffleboards, and billiards and ping-pong tables for our recreation. Overall, staying at Dodgertown has enhanced this spring training trip for our entire team through the comfort, hospitality, and history that we have experienced here.

After fueling up, two fours each of the menʼs and womenʼs squads left at 7:30 to finish the final seat-races of the matrix. Once at Canal-54 the two menʼs fours quickly launched and warmed up to the start line, and begin the first of two pieces. 1500 meters later, boats stopped and rowers breathing heavy, the coxswains brought the boats together and read out the lineups for the second and final piece. We all stumbled over each other in the boats, pushed away, and made our way back to the starting line once again. As we were making our way, the bus arrived with the rest of the team, who launched into their respective boats and began their own practices. Still breathing hard by the time we got back to the starting line, we began the last piece, pushing every inch once again. After finishing, we quickly brought the boats to shore where the women were standing ready to hotseat the fours we were in. Since everyone was still on the water, the group of us who seat raced were given special instruction on sculling by guest coach Jim Raslavsky. Jim gave us extremely wise insight on sculling, correcting many parts of the stroke which will in turn improve our technique in the bigger boats. Once everybody finished their practice and returned to land, Coach Bancheri read out the results from the past three days of seat racing and the plan for the day before we all loaded onto the bus to make our way back to Dodgertown.

On the way back from practice, our bus experienced some technical issues but before long everybody made it safely back to Dodgertown where we ate a lunch prepared for us by Debbie and Patrick Dolan, Coach Alyssaʼs parents. After lunch a few of us went to the lounge to shoot pool and play table tennis between practices. At around 2:30, with a tornado watch already in the area and thunderstorms predicted for the evening, we received word that we would not be practicing on the water but that there would instead be a meeting at the hotel at four oʼclock. At four, we all gathered in the lounge where we began with stretches and calisthenics lead by the team captains. Next, guest coach Jim Raslavsky further instructed the entire team in mental and technical aspects of the sport before Coach Bancheri showed us videos from past races and from recent practices and instructed the team even further.

After the team meeting, vans were available to bring athletes to the mall for food. Additionally, many rowers chose to order pizza or another delivery option so that they could relax or enjoy the physical night off while waiting for food. Several people played basketball, volleyball, or just relaxed in the time after the meeting. Once we were all full and worn out, everyone settled into bed to prepare for another day of practice in paradise.

As a junior at GVSU, this trip has been the best team training trip that I have had the chance to attend thus far. From Dodgertown to the rowing facilities at Canal-54 and Indian River Rowing Club, this trip has had it all. At the canal, we are blessed with a long, protected stretch of water that makes for great rowing conditions. Through Indian River Rowing Club we have found a site on the intracoastal waterway that gives us endless water to row on and plenty of sites to see. On this trip I have increased my rowing ability physically, technically, and mentally. Seat racing is probably my favorite thing in this entire sport, as it allows the rower a chance to switch boats and crews and shows the athleteʼs ability to move a boat regardless of conditions out of their control. To be able to see oneʼs individual impact in a boat is both gratifying and motivating. Also, with the wise technical eyes of our coaching staff and guest coach Jim Raslavsky, I have felt myself make improvements in my technique and seem similar improvements throughout the team. Itʼs trips like these that create excitement in the team, seeing the desire and will in every athlete to make this team as fast as it can be.

Sunset Row

Lilly Iles ’17
Major: Hospitality & Marketing
Hometown: Holland, MI

Well today has been an exciting one, that’s for sure. The day started off with yet another fabulous breakfast from the staff here at Dodgertown and then the whole team headed out to Canal 54 for Day 6 of Spring Training. While the varsity teams were busy competing for just a few spots left in the Men’s and Women’s 1V boats, the novice women enjoyed a long technical, steady-state row down the canal. As a whole, the novice teams are definitely looking a lot tidier and I’m sure we’ll get to defend the Grand Valley title very soon.

On our way back to Dodgertown, we had a slight engine mishap on the bus and, long story short, it took a couple of state troupers and a high-spirited team to get us off the highway. Everyone is safe, and our bus driver Doug handled the situation in the best way possible – we’re very thankful to have him with us.

Due to a thunderstorm threat, afternoon practice was cancelled but stretching and calisthenics resumed in the lounge here at Dodgertown. Following that, Coach B gave a team-building speech that greatly increased everyone’s mental attitudes. As everyone’s hands continue to hurt and the temperature remains high, we’re all very grateful to be here with this opportunity to represent our school.

Pool Time

Scott Ossim ’17
Major: Chemistry
Hometown: Fishers, IN

Today was the kind of day that really defines what the crew is about. Heavy winds and some other mishaps put everyone in a situation that we didn’t expect to be in, but we handled it like we always do. In spite of the setbacks, we still had a hugely beneficial “practice” and listened intently to the wisdom that Coach B and a few others had to offer. So without skipping a beat, we were right back on track to focus in and think about the weekend/season to come.

Because we’ve put in so much work and so many miles, the whole team is ready to finally get a chance to show what we can do. Until then, everyone will have an opportunity to hone in on the fine points of our techniques and spend some time on the water with their specific crews. Something like “crew culture” (as Coach B puts it) is really invaluable to winning races, and from downtime to race time, it’s something that we can constantly develop.

In a few short days, we’ll get to put it all to the test when we go head-to-head with a few of the local Florida Crews. Some of the novice guys will get their first taste of sprint racing, and hopefully their first taste of fast-paced victory.
On occasions like this, it’s near impossible to not be a touch nervous. Nevertheless, the determination and sheer want to “go fast” is evident all around, and the coming races will prove to be all but boring.

For as long as I’ve been on the crew, I’ve heard everyone (especially coaches) say that this season has a chance to be the best season in Laker Navy history. I feel like every day there is something new to be found in the training, and I’ve been lucky to get to be a part of such a determined and talented crew. Rowing is unique in that it takes every member of the team to go fast, and this team definitely has the “all-in” mentality that we need. Every stroke is an opportunity to take a seat, to take a race, and maybe even slay a few giants.






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.

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