2015 – 2016 Winter Training Wrap Up
Posted on Thursday, January 7th, 2016 at 10:32 pm

Scott Thorbjornsen, President GVSU Rowing Club

Hometown: Bangor, MI

Major: Speech Pathology

By planes, trains, and automobiles the Laker Navy returns home after 10 days of technical rowing in sunny Tampa, FL. Reflecting back on the trip there are many highlights. A few are the warm weather, the couple beach days we had, and the quality time spent with teammates. That includes walking along the Tampa Riverwalk enjoying the sights of the city, cramming ice cream into our mouths, and celebrating New Year’s with fireworks. The trip wasn’t all sunshine and beaches though. Most days involved waking up with the sun to perfect our technique by listening to our coach give Olympic level chalk talks and then put those words into action on the water. With our coaches explaining the stroke from the launch we watches our blades to make sure it was following the perfect path. Everyone took advantage of the time this week to focus on their stroke and be more effective in the water. At the end of each day we were mentally and physically exhausted. It was made better by the awesome food provided by parents and alumni. We are the best fed crew around and because of that we were able to perform well everyday.

A few days we had the opportunity to increase our engines and workout on the ergs. Although we initially were down about erging the whole team picked each other up and pushed forward to produce fast results that will give us an edge when spring racing comes around. With everyday we grew faster and closer as a team. This trip helps create a team culture that brings lots of success. We learned what Lombardi time was from guest coach Joe Haney and how we had been using it without knowing what it was and realizing that our attitudes coming into practice can affect the productivity of the team. These lessons will go a long way not only in rowing but in our future careers.

This whole trip was a complete success. The food, weather, coaching staff, including our guest coaches Joe Haney and Vinnie Puma, and the support of our parents and alumni this trip could only have been successful. Thank you to all who help the Laker Navy. We appreciate everything you do. Now I take my leave, although I will miss the warm weather, Michigan is calling my name.

Coaching Staff and Supporter Bob Monhan
(left to right) Coach Alison Sobiech, Coach Michelle Goodwin, Coach Costas Ciungan, Head Coach John Bancheri, Alumni and Supporter Bob Monahan, and Guest Coach Joe Haney

Costas Ciungan ’14, Assistant Men’s Coach

Hometown: Grosse Ile, MI

This Winter Training Trip concludes with a team stronger and technically better. Tim Duncan once stated “Good, Better, Best . Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.” That is the exact culture we are trying to build in Grand Valley Rowing. Every athlete always striving to be the best they are capable of becoming both academically and athletically. As a coach, I look to help build that culture and to improve athletic capacity. Between the equipment, the coaching, the coxswains, the student-athletes, and the many blogs, it is evident that this is not a one person production, but a team effort both in terms of learning and improving technique. From coaches instruction to athletes learning from each other, this Winter Training Trip has been a great success and we owe it to all of our dedicated student athletes as well as our donors and supporters, our success is truly yours.

Special Thanks to Bob Monahan and surrounding alumni for providing lunch, as well as the Homeister and Goodwin families who provided dinner. In addition, Special Thanks to guest coach Joe Haney, guest coach Vinnie Puma, and guest coach John Reichner.
Through out the week I have seen athletes improve in Posture, Timing, Control, Balance, Bladework, and the development of touch as many had an opportunity to analyze their rowing and get individual coaching attention.

This trip I mostly worked with the varsity men’s program and a small group of novice men. The women’s and men’s team both had a mix of older varsity members and a developmental group of newer rowers in regards to experience. The result was a lot of learning, as older rowers helped the newer rowers, and a stronger team was the result along with a successful Winter Training Trip.

The Coaching was another aspect that made this Winter Training Trip a success with four coaches and three guest coaches who came to teach, correct, and help develop great technique and better rowers. Coach Bancheri was instrumental for having everyone start back at square one, focusing on posture and timing and how those aspects allow for the mastery of control and balance. We broke down the rowing stroke and further developed the understanding of how every aspect of rowing flows together. Many athletes, especially the younger group in terms of experience, learned how each aspect builds upon the other. I was thrilled with the amount dedication and focus to the details and to see each athlete helping each other out.


As for myself, I was happy to see a great group of athletes including four novice men learn from one another, and develop better technique. I feel that many developed a sense of rhythm and touch as many novice rowers saw improvements in their rowing and learned a lot over this winter training trip. This attitude and culture of our team to never give less than your best and to always stay in the pursuit of perfection was evident in the athletes’ attentiveness during chalk talks and video review along with thoughtful questions and a desire for feedback.

I am so thankful I was able to be on this trip to coach, learn, and teach. In addition, I am happy to share with all of our supporters of the many great endeavors, adventures, and lessons our athletes here at Grand Valley Rowing are learning in both rowing and about life. Thank you to everyone who made it possible from our supporters, donors, coaches, and to our student-athletes. The Coaching Staff and Laker Navy are thankful and are looking forward to the great new year and rowing season ahead. Keep pulling for the Laker Navy.






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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