The Grand River has risen to historic heights as Grand Valley Rowing’s on-campus boathouse has become flooded with water. The Laker Navy has adapted, being forced to move their operations to the Quarry (also known as the Proving Grounds) out west of Allendale. The Lakers are an irrepressible crew program.
With the Mid-American Collegiate Rowing Association Championship (MACRA) regatta coming up on Saturday, April 27th, 2013 – the path leading to the boathouse sits under five feet of water and rising. The boathouse, at this point, essentially is flooded and stands by its lonesome; jutting up from the horizon of a flood scene with water rising quickly. Waters have entered and flooded the boat house and the Lakers have executed emergency procedures.
Under siege by torrential storms ravaging the Midwest, Grand Valley rowing is in survival mode. The Lakers had to move out of their boathouse just before the 18th Annual Lubbers Cup regatta, when flood waters surged. The Grand River has been climbing to new and historic heights predicting to crest at 23 ft, which beats the previous historic height set in 1985 at 19.54 ft.
Head Coach John Bancheri of men’s and women’s rowing stated that “We’re just doing whatever it takes to keep going, We’re making it work.”
That’s an understatement. In addition, Grand Valley Rowing had three boats damaged on Friday, April 19th, at the proving grounds due to high winds with no proper storage for their equipment.
The three boats that were damaged were the Hartsuff, the Stoll, and the Jedlics. The “Hartsuff” (1-) was totalled, there was serious damage to the Stoll (8+), and minor delaminations to the Jedlics. Overall there is heavy, moderate, and some small damage.
The Laker Navy is in the process of re-securing and salvaging what they can to get on the water. The Lakers have secured storage for repairs to their damaged boats at the GVSU warehouse and Alumni Matt LeBlanc’96 will be helping to fix the damaged equipment.
Despite the obstacles, Grand Valley State has thrived. The Lakers’ women’s varsity eight is ranked No. 1 in the most recent American Collegiate Rowing Association Top 10. The men’s varsity eight sits at No. 2.
“Everyone came to the reality of, ‘OK, this is the card we were dealt,‘ and they’re trying to make the most of it,” said Bancheri, whose crew is also dealing with damaged equipment. “We tell the kids constantly, ‘It ain’t what you got, it’s what you do with what you got.’ In the end, that’s all that really counts.”
Grand Valley’s resilience stems from two tenets preached by Bancheri.
First, the Lakers operate under what Bancheri calls, “The bow ball philosophy.” The primary lessson: All that matters is the bow ball.
“The bow ball doesn’t care how someone is feeling, doesn’t care if something is going on,” Bancheri explained. “All the bow ball knows is if it’s in front of the other boat. Everybody’s got to do their share to make sure that the bow ball goes an inch further.”
Secondly, Bancheri leans on the ideas of “Kaizen,” a Japanese management system anchored on the notion of perpetual improvement, regardless of circumstance.
“If you’re not getting better, your competition is,” Bancheri said.
The Laker Navy has been maneuvering through an unpredictable season with commendable focus. Grand Valley will now look to make the best of the situation by pulling the resources of the entire Laker Navy. It’s tough not being able to practice in your own boathouse, but the Laker Navy is unsinkable. Keep Pulling for the Laker Navy.