Major: Exercise Science
Hometown: Saline, MI
Today the team got up earlier than we have to go for a morning row then leave to get some extra time at the beach. Well as everything in rowing goes according to plan, that did not happen. I should have known when Coach B takes the bus driver in the launch with him that it’s going to be a long row. It was a very long row. We pushed off the dock at 7:00 AM and heard “Start rowing by 6’s and I’ll catch up to you.” Halfway to the I-75 bridge Coach B caught up to us and started analyzing and giving us feedback on our technique.
Once we passed the bridge and were about halfway to Bradenton it was confirmed in my mind we were in for the long haul. Once we were in Bradenton, Coach B took a couple of pictures and eventually let us stop. Sometimes I wonder if he makes us row to places just so he could take a picture of us. After the photo shoot we spun around and we rowed the 11 miles back to the dock and crawled out of the boat. From there the day got a lot better. We ate lunch at the hotel and headed for the Siesta Key Beach.
At the beach Coach B had a few events for the team to participate in, Tug-of-War and the infamous Greased Watermelon Challenge (basically Rugby with a greased watermelon in the ocean). It was varsity versus novice, males versus females. The varsity/novice male tug-of-war didn’t last long seeing as the rope snapped 10 seconds into the match, but in the female match there was a lot of confusion as to who won because some of the male athletes got involved. Needless to say all the cloudiness was cleared up in the greased watermelon challenge. The Varsity Women took care of business and demolished the Novices by a score of 2-0. The first game the men played was undecided because the watermelon was obliterated when 20 bodies collided in the Gulf of Mexico.
The next game however, the Varsity Men took up the intensity and charged the watermelon in for the W. After the game the novice men were shoving one of the varsity guys around and that didn’t sit well with the rest of us. I remember Robbie yelling “Hey, what are they doing with Justin?”, we glance and then charge like a heard of bison in there direction. We did not stop until every novice male was underwater. After a long day at the beach we came back to the hotel and got ready for a nice swing/flush row in pairs for our second practice. This long, eventful day will lead to a solid 10 hour shut eye before tomorrow mornings practice.
Athlete: Andrea Nadjarian
Hometown: Rochester, MI
Today was another great day for the GVSU Rowing Crew. We woke up earlier than normal today, so that we can treat ourselves to another fun filled day at the beach. A bright and early day that began at 6:30 A.M. ended very soon. After a refreshing long morning practice, we came back to the hotel to freshen up for the beach. This time we were going to one of the Nations best beaches, in Sarasota. When the GVSU crew arrived at the the beach we began our “team beach workout”, which consisted of wrestling for a crisco covered watermelon in the ocean, and toggle war. It was no surprise that the varsity mens team and the novice mens team snapped the rope. Varsity one every single activity. After our workout we lazed around the beach, played volleyball, and treated our selves to the beach cafe. Since it was such a hot day, I spent most my time in the ocean. After our beach treat, we returned back to the Ramada hotel to get ready for our afternoon practice at four. I enjoyed the afternoon practice today since us novice girls got a chance to row all eight in our boat. The coach seemed pleased with our performance, and we ended the day on a good note.
Hometown: Manistique, MI
Our day started out earlier than usual, with the bus rolling out at 6:30 am. The varsity women were in pairs this morning, staying close to the dock and working on perfecting our technique in the small boats. Being in a pair really forces you to notice and correct every little imperfection in your stroke. My pair partner, Becca Studer, and I did a lot of pause drills and helped each other with our technique and blade work. Rowing in a pair is a unique challenge, requiring perfect balance, technique, timing, and touch. But after all the practice we’ve gotten this week, we’re really getting the hang of it. We even rowed with our feet out of the foot stretchers for a good portion of the practice, which is no easy feat, especially in a small boat like a pair. We did a lot of pause drills too, pausing in the middle of the stroke and finding the perfect set of the boat. Towards the end of practice we did a few Power 10’s, taking 10 fast and strong strokes. It feels so good to go fast, and our strokes felt so good. By the end of the almost 3 hour practice, I felt that I had made some major improvements, and our boat felt great. I couldn’t even tell the difference between when we were rowing feet out and feet in. It was a very productive practice.
After practice, the whole team headed to Siesta Key beach, the #1 beach in the country. It was so warm and beautiful there, so much better than the snow and freezing temperatures back in Michigan. The team did some Beach Olympics games, which consisted of tug of war between the varsity and novice teams, and a greased watermelon challenge. Rowers are naturally very competitive people, so games like these can get a little crazy. The men’s teams snapped the tug of war rope, but the varsity women had a CLEAR victory over the novice. The greased watermelon was the best part. We had to try to hold onto a huge slippery watermelon while running through the waves and everyone grabbing at it too. The varsity women once again dominated over the novice. After spending some time in the sun and relaxing, we left to go back to the hotel, just to head off to practice once again. It was a short and easy row though, working on technique and not worrying about putting pressure behind the blade. The best part of every practice though, is the last 10 strokes, when Coach yells out “Whatever it takes to win!” and we pick it up by all 8 and sprint as fast and as hard as we can into the dock.
I am so glad I came on this training trip. We are all getting faster, getting stronger, improving our rowing technique, and bonding as a team. We are getting to know the novice team better, and bonding as a varsity boat too. I am so excited for the spring. I have so many goals, so many ambitions, and all I want is to work the hardest I’ve ever worked to earn each and every one of them. No one can be sure what the spring season holds for us. But I know one thing: We’re gonna be fast.
Athlete: David Blythe
Hometown: Canton, MI
Today started off very similar to the previous few days of waking up early for practice, but there was one twist, we woke up an hour earlier for practice in order to make time for a beach excursion in the middle of the day. Getting back to our practice, we began by doing our normal warm up on land and then on the water. The main focus of todays practice was the catch and bringing the hands up on the final few inches of the slide to put the blade into the water. During this section of blade work we were all focused on making a check mark or v-shaped splash when entering the blade into the water. The Purdue coach flipped his launch during the morning workout so our coach, Hugh took over our boat and the purdue mens eight. After our AM workout we then got back on the bus and headed to the hotel to get ready for our beach trip.
Originally i thought we were going Holmes Beach to spend the day at Manatee Beach like the day before but it turned out that we were going to Siesta Key Beach which is the #1 US beach and it was pretty exciting. At the beach we had a surprise workout planned which turned out to be a mini beach olympics type of workout where we did a tug of war and then watermelon football in the water. The tug of war had two matches, novice men vs. varsity men and novice women vs. varsity women. During the tug of war between the novice and varsity men there was about 10 seconds of give and take before we broke the rope due to the sheer force on both ends. We(the novice men) got the win seeing as the knot in the middle of the rope was on our side. While this was a fun event, the watermelon football game was the real show. We were clearly outmatched in strength and numbers, and varsity ended up winning both matches and sending us home as the losers. The rest of the trip featured lots of swimming, sun bathing, and beach volleyball. At 3 o’clock we packed up and got on the bus and headed back to Ellenton to have our afternoon row,
The afternoon row was short and featured the same blade work mentality as our morning row. We ended the practice by rowing all eights which featured our first truly balanced all-eight row. This was a major milestone for us and we were all extremely excited about it. After the row the novice mens team along with a few others went to the Anna Maria Oyster Bar to celebrate our accomplishment. It was a long day indeed, but it was very fun and beneficial to our ever improving skills.