Archive for January, 2013

Winter Training Trip 2012-2013

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

-Robbie Deweerd ’13
Major: Criminal Justice
Hometown: Holland, MI

Almost exactly one year ago to date I departed for my deployment to Afghanistan where I worked in a Detention Facility. Now a year later I look back at the progress that I have made over the course of the week, along with the changes I have  gone through in the last year, and could not be more excited for the upcoming spring season

The last week has included numerous long rows, chalk talks, and a lot of one-on-one technical training from our coaches. We even managed to get a few short pieces in at Benderson Park, which for me was the best part of the trip. The gains made in the last week will prove to be priceless come this spring.  

Leaving the team midway through the year last year was one of the more disappointing things (along with family and friends) I had to do. I have spent that last year preparing for my return to the team, to include lifting, and I even managed to find one of the few ergs in  Afghanistan to train on. Now as I return from winter training it feels as if I had never left.  This last week has helped me bring my technical skills of rowing to that of over a year ago.

I invite you all to look back at Grand Valley Rowing Winter Training Camp through the Athlete’s Daily Blogs, the link to which can be found below. We had a fun and productive week of rowing and sightseeing in the Sunshine State!

Keep Pulling for the Laker Navy


Day One – Friday, December 28, 2012

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Athlete: Costas Ciungan’13

Home Town: Grosse Ile, Mi

Major: Legal Studies

Grand Valley Rowing’s 2012-2013 Winter Training Camp began this evening, two days after Christmas, as the advanced team left for Ellenton, FL on Thursday December 27th. The rowers loaded one large white Van at GVSU. We were on the road shortly after 7:00 P.M., following Coach Bancheri, who towed the launch boat he uses for coaching and the John Palk, a pair on top of his vehicle. Destination? Georgia, the home of our facilities coordinator Tyler Sellmer ’13 to meet up with him and the rest of our equipment. Although the drive was long, the van rides brought quality team bonding time. Talking with one another and catching up on our breaks so far and all that we have to look forward to with the beginning of winter training camp 2012-2013.

We picked up a few passengers on the way, including Coach Mike Bailey from Purdue and Justin Bartaway in Tennessee. We preceded then to Georgia where our facilities coordinator, Tyler Sellmer, hails from. There we met the boats and a few more coaching launches. We met at a gas station and preceded in caravan fashion into Florida. A caravan of four vehicles which included the White 15 passenger van, Coach Bancheri’s Vehicle pulling the Coaching launch and carrying a pair on top, The trailer with all of our equipment and boats, and Mr. Sellmer’s vehicle with three more coach launches. After a safe night and day of travel, the caravan and advanced team arrived in Ellenton, Fl on Friday December 28th at 6:45 P.M. Everyone got settled in and went to get dinner at Woody’s River Roo Pub & Grill. This training camp will bring much needed water time and technical gains to not only varsity athletes attending, but also to the Novices who are attending as well. Looking forwarded to getting faster one stroke at a time and improving practice to practice. If you focus on results you will never change, if you focus on change you will see results.

Day Two – Saturday, December 29, 2012

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Chris Gaigalas ’15
Major: Engineering
Hometown: Rockford, MI

Today was a very interesting day; it started with some grand sleep on the bus. Then suddenly there came a drip, drip, dripping. To my surprise the bus was leaking profusely from the rainstorm that was going on all night. As I discovered the issue was coming from the air vent above me, I did all I could to stall the pesky dripping. After we arrived at the Fort Hamer, as we stepped off the bus the air was still moist from the rain.

As we were rigging the boats the rain had returned more furiously then this morning. Once we finished rigging all of the boats that we brought we geared up to row. Then we pushed off the dock the rain changed from a down pour to a trickle. The varsity men had a very easy technical morning practice after the stupendous ride down from the cold state of Michigan.

After getting off the water we boarded the bus then traversed to the hotel, where we had a long meeting about the events on this trip. When 3:00 P.M. came along we traveled to the Manatee waterway to begin our first full length practice of the trip. We started out by gathering the whole team in a circular shape and started our normal stretching routine with a warm-up.

Then we moved out to the water where we worked on more technique. As the sun began to set with beautiful red and orange sunset; there were three birthday swims. Where the novice men had the chance to throw their vicious coach into the river and he put up an extravagant fight. The varsity men walked Tyler Sellmer ’13 down to the dock where he ended up running down the dock and tackling the same novice into the river with the help of some of the other varsity guys. After this major ordeal the team headed to the hotel where we showered and went to the Publics grocery store. Ending the day with a grand dinner at the Hungry Howies pizza buffet, and the novice guys and Becca Mier ’15 was an attendance.

Shelby Welbaum ’14
Major: Exercise Science
Hometown: Galien, MI

Well after the 24 hour bus ride, it was nice to finally get off the bus for more than 30 minutes! Unfortunately, it was pouring out and no sunshine in sight but I am not complaining seeing as I found out we got around 9 inches of snow. It was really warm so the rain actually felt good. It was such a great feeling to get back in the boat. Nothing was gonna bring me down. As Phil from Duck Dynasty would say: I was Happy Happy Happy! After a nice short warm up row we went back to the hotel to get a bite to eat and grab a quick nap before our second practice. Boy, that nap felt good after having to sleep in that bus! Our second practice was great! It was warm and sunny out. Our practice just consisted of doing some drills to get us back into the swing of things.

My favorite part of rowing is the end of the day. Not just because we were heading back to the dock but the beautiful sunset that we got to watch as we rowed back. The sun came out of the clouds and the beams were hitting the water and making it shine. It was something that should have been on a postcard. I know that was cheesy but there are really no words to describe the sunsets we see while rowing. That was really the icing on the cake for a great first day back on the water here in sunny Florida.

Claire Crosmun
Major: Chemistry
Hometown: Southgate, MI

After what seemed like a never ending bus ride, we reached Florida. However, around 8 when we were rigging boats and preparing for our morning row, the Sunshine State was not sunny at all. It had snowed or rained a majority of the trip down south and the poor weather seemed to follow us.

Most of the boats were already off the trailer and in the shell house when we got off the bus so we headed inside and tried to be helpful.

The novice women were tremendously happy to see the Irwin on the rack. We got it rigged and after dealing with some technical difficulties, we launched for our first row of Winter Training.

The first row was a short one. It was just a chance for our coxie to get familiar with our new surroundings. It was also a chance for us all to get reacquainted with being in a boat after spending so much time erging this past month.

After a quick trip back to the hotel for lunch and a nap, it was right back to the water for our second row of the day. Despite the wind and waves, we focused on leaning towards our riggers and preparing our body angles at the pivot. All of our rowing was done on the square which was kind of disappointing but it allowed us to work on technique. Kelsey had us try some new drills and the afternoon row was actually a lot of fun.

Tyler and Hugh got thrown in the water since it was their birthday (the novice guys followed Hugh whether they wanted to or not) and then it was back to the hotel for hot showers and some much needed rest. 

Colin Ragan ’16

After the 24 hour bus trip I joined the rest of the crew in rigging the boats. We did not do very much work on the water this morning, but we made up for it with more technique-work and some faster pieces in the afternoon. Also, we gave Coach Hugh and Tyler birthday gifts by tossing them in the water.
Hugh fought right up until the inevitable end, Tyler was a little more willing, and my phone became an inadvertent victim after some of the Varsity guys pushed into the water those of us who tossed Hugh. It was a good and productive first day to the week, finishing it off by eating “all-you-can-eat” pizza at Hungry Howie’s with fellow rowing buddies.

Day Three – Sunday, December 30, 2012

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Staci O’Brien ’14
Major: Clinical Exercise Science
Hometown: Saginaw, MI

Although we got sunshine on our second day in Florida, we also had a chilly (by Florida’s standards) one. The morning came fast, since I felt like I still hadn’t caught up on sleep. We ate breakfast then left at 7:30 for our first practice of the day. I got to go out in a quad with only three girls in it, and we had a coxswain – something that I’ve never done before.

It was nice to get a longer row in and focus on technique. After practice, we went back to the hotel to have lunch and a break before our 3:00 practice. I, like many others, fell asleep in my room for probably longer than I should have. At least I was more awake for the second practice!

The 3:00 row was an interesting one for me, since I got to row with three men in a quad. It looked pretty weird because all the other people in the boat except for the coxswain were probably at least 50 pounds heavier and nearly a foot taller than me.

The row also marked the furthest I had been out on the water. We capped off that practice with a challenge between the men’s 8+ and our quad (or the three men in it) and Coach B’s famous “Whatever it takes to win” at the end. It ended pretty quickly, since it was the first time we had gone by all four and was a little shaky.

The practice was what Coach B called “Goodwill rowing” and finished with the two boats getting some awesome shirts from Goodwill. After practice, a bus headed to a pizza buffet and some other restaurants. I was happy to eat as much pizza as I could after the day’s work. With a good end to the night with teammates, I think we’re all looking forward to the rest of the week here in Florida!

Ed Avena ’14
Major: Exercise Science
Hometown: Exercise Science

Today marks the third day here in Ellenton, Florida. With the extra half hour of sleep that coach graciously gave us this morning and the wonderful meals that Nancy has prepared, we were ready for what was to come. Aside from the extensive technical coaching, we were able to get great steady-state workouts in that even included a few 10 stroke bursts. The colder weather was a bit of a surprise to the team but it did not alter our plans. The novices, led by coaches Hugh and Kelsey, are beginning to learn the very delicate aspects in their blade work. It can be seen that they are not only improving their fitness levels, but their technical ability as well.

The varsity men and women, although having more experience, still are reaching back to the basics. It has been awhile since we have all been on the water, so it is necessary to become familiar with these fundamentals again. Coach always says, “shake off the cobwebs”. Those “cobwebs” can definitely be seen from the small mistakes that we have been making but as we continue our practices, those mistakes have begun to disappear and we have been moving the boats even faster.

The mornings for the varsity are pretty simple but are vital to our boats and the entire program. Mornings consists of purely technical focus. The men have been going out in pairs while the women go out in eights with Coach Bancheri.

After continuously rowing in circles, whether it was swing pick or even outside arm only, we have furthered our level as rower. Afternoons are more steady-state rows, still with the technical focus in mind. Today, the varsity men rowed past I-75, doing both pieces and something else special. The men were offered an opportunity to win a prize by mastering a technical feat for 5 strokes in a row.

After meeting this standard, Coach then threw a bag which contained the most eye-appealing shirts that we have ever seen. He called it “Goodwill Rowing”. Little did we know they were just assortments of hawaiian button-ups but if you see the pictures that were taken, I would say that we all look pretty darn good in them. We even wore them to dinner. After all the fun, we all were just looking forward to head to bed. I look forward to tomorrow so that we all may continue our progression towards sound technical rowers.

Thank You Nancy for your help with lunch.

Christina Pavano ’16
Major: Exercise Science
Hometown: Rockford, Michigan

Today was cold day, probably the coldest it will be all week. We woke up around 6:50, got ready and then went to eat some breakfast! Morning practice was a long row. We rowed all the way past the bridge and where we ended, we figured out was right by our hotel!

After morning practice we all ate lunch in the meeting room! After lunch, Doug (the bus driver) took a couple of us to church which was about 15 minutes down the road. After church a couple of us sat by the pool and relaxed and stretched.

After some down time, we all loaded the bus and headed to practice. We focused on lower rates and pressure. After practice we came back to the hotel and got ready then we all went out to eat at Hungry Howies, which was great team bonding! Overall it was a great day. Cant wait for the rest of the week!!

Austin Abrams
Major: Nursing
Hometown: St. Clair Shores, MI

After finally settling in at the Ramada Limited Hotel that we are staying at after a long day of rowing, I was woken up early in the morning at 6:00 A.M. Struggling to actually get out of bed, I finally made my way to the hotels breakfast that they serve us every morning.

After breakfast and having nice conversations with the teammates; we were on the bus at 7:30 and on the way to the boathouse. After all was done with rowing our coxswain MOLLY made us do 20 minutes of stretches.

As flexible as we all are, especially yours truly, in the end it felt good to stretch the main muscles of rowing. Next we walked to the meeting room where all the lunch food was held at and had a great meal thanks to Nancy after a hard mornings work. Making my way back to the room I crawled in bed and took a nap.

Waking up ten minutes before the bus leaves, I gathered my rowing gear and ran to the bus. Rowing at 3:00 P.M., the sun was now out and shirts were off as we were all trying to get the Michigan sour cream color off. After the fun laughs but also hard work we came back, showered up, and went out to Applebee’s for dinner. Following up with that, we all separated and now resting up for another hardworking day. Before passing out now watching some step brothers.

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