Archive for December, 2013

Day Three- Monday, December 30, 2013

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Team at Beach

Coach John Michael Bancheri (9th year at GVSU)

Planning for this trip began last January after our 2012/13 winter trip at Manatee County’s Fort Hamer site. The hotel we stayed at last year was not available (they drained the pool and hot tub). Increasing costs also caused us to reconsider our options and rethink the whole value of the winter training camp. After much discussion with our upperclassmen and team officers, I was asked to keep the training camp on the schedule and look at other viable options for winter training in Florida. With the help of Coach Joe Dobson of the Sarasota Scullers Masters Crew located at Blackburn Point in Osprey, FL and the encouragement of one of our great supporters John Reichner of Lakewood Ranch, FL we decided to pursue the Osprey option on the ICW (intra-coastal waterway).

Luckily, I was able to meet with Lori Davis of Bentleys Boutique Resort Hotel in Osprey, FL, which is less than a mile from the Blackburn Point training site (across the street from the famous Casey Key Fish House). Lori and I came to an agreement at an affordable rate for 16 rooms, which included breakfast for our student athletes. The hotel was newly renovated in the past few years and the guys that remembered being here four years ago loved the facility and the upgrades. With a hotel deal in place, a venue from which to launch, and the help in securing coach boats from Coach Dragos (Coach Alex) Alexandru of the nationally renowned Sarasota Scullers program, we had all of the pieces in place for our return.

It is interesting to plan a trip like this for 56 athletes and staff. From negotiating with Compass Coach (our bus company of choice) on price and getting OUR driver Doug-ie back, to loading the trailer in early December. Having the trailer loaded allowed us to pre-position our equipment for both winter and the larger spring training camps. The selection (self-selection for the most part) and the fund raising were issues as to how many could go and how we were going to fund the projected budget of $18,000 for almost 60 people. Luckily, we had the help of a few alums (we will acknowledge all our winter training donors in our January alumni newsletter), parents, and investors in our program that made it affordable to hold the camp. Each student-athlete contributed $275 to attend winter training 2013-2014.

Thanks to all who contributed and continue to help develop the Laker Navy (since 1964). Your investment in the program gives our students a great opportunity and experience.
More to come later…… Coach B.

GVSU Rowing

Jordan Crandell ’14
Major: International Relations
Hometown: Fremont, MI

This week, I have switched from Varsity Woman to Novice Man. This has been quite the experience for me because I’m not used to the life of a novice man, but it’s been fun so far. We’ve been working on getting back to the basics and focusing on a lot of technique which I always like because we can break down the stroke and really work on perfecting it which will help come spring. Lots of steady state and lower rates and it will all pay off soon enough.

Coach decided we were pale enough and granted us an afternoon at the beach! Everyone was very excited to get to Siesta Keys and we all ran to the lifeguard stand for our traditional photo with the lifeguard. Then we grabbed a prime spot in the sun and everyone hit the water. There were some pretty sizable waves and we had a great time throwing each other into the path of a crashing wave or throwing seaweed at each other. I can’t speak for anyone else after this because I took a nice snooze in the sunshine.

We returned to practice and hit the water for some pyramids and we even got to pick up the rate a bit and fly for a few strokes. It’s only the first couple of days of training but the weather is picking up and everyone is having a great time. It should be a phenomenal week of rowing, sunshine and plenty of food being eaten!

Beach Picture

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

This morning began as most mornings on these trips do with the alarm going off at 6:45am for breakfast. After eating at the hotel, we all got ready for morning practice and left for the rowing venue. Once at practice, we prepared for launching by bringing the launches and oars down before setting our boats in the water and taking off to begin practice. I was in a single with the varsity group and we started the practice with stationary drills to improve our control and timing. After spending a good amount of time focusing on the technical points of rowing, we began a steady-state workout for the rest of practice until we returned to the launch site at 10:30. After washing down the boats and putting everything away, Debbie and Patrick Dolan parents had a delicious lunch already awaiting us which we were very thankful for.

Once the team finished lunch, we made our way back to the hotel to prepare for a lifting session and some much-needed beach time. At about noon, we left for the Sarasota Scullers training center, where they kindly welcomed us to use their facilities for a team calisthenics and lifting session. From there, the team left for Siesta Key beach, where we enjoyed a couple relaxing hours under the sun and in the sea. We left the beach around 3:30pm to return to the hotel where we quickly prepared for our evening practice.

At practice, back in the single, I was forced to work extra hard in order to keep up with the fours and pairs that were in the varsity group. We spent some time doing drills to help improve our bladework as well as overall oarsmanship. After the drills, we moved into continuous rowing, followed by leap-frog which is a great exercise that allows time to focus on both the recovery and the drive. When we returned to land, we quickly washed the boats and took care of all of the equipment before loading up the bus to return to the hotel once more.

By the time we arrived at the hotel, we had forty-five minutes to clean up before leaving for dinner at Sweet Tomatoes, a salad buffet. At dinner, we all ate more than enough and left the restaurant very happy and sleepy. We returned to the hotel tired from the busy day, but very happy. It has been fantastic to see the wide range of improvements that the team has been making as well as the improvements I have noticed in my own stroke. Spending more time in the smaller boats has given us plenty of opportunities to focus in on technique and gives us a chance to improve every aspect of our oarsmanship. I am very excited to see how the team continues to improve during the rest of this training camp and how these improvements translate onto the race course in May!

Novice Women

Meredith Ament ’17
Major: Anthropology
Hometown: Maple Park, IL

We started off our day with an early morning practice beginning at 7:30 a.m. It was a long row for the novice women and practice consisted of technique work. We pulled the boats in around 10:30ish and had a delicious lunch comprised of sandwiches, fruit, and cookies provided by Debbie and Patrick Dolan. Then we jumped on the bus and headed over to the Sarasota Scullers Headquarters to lift weights. Afterwards we went over to Siesta Key beach for some much needed beach time. We finished up at the beach around 3:30 and then it was back to the boats for afternoon practice from 4:00-5:30.

Beach Picture

Calvin Knape ’17
Major: Business
Hometown: Traverse City, MI

I am Calvin Knape a freshman novice man. Today was a perfect day for rowing. The weather was great and my boat decided to sail. The warmth let us take off our shirts and get odd looks from the Florida people for being out in the “cold” weather. One of them even asked “Are you guys from Canada?” We had a great row today for both practices and even got to row out to a beach, swim and throw Hugh McKeegan in the water.

Later in the evening we all went to a delicious place called “Sweet Tomato”, an all you can eat buffet. The rowers descended upon the food, and none was left after the 57 of us had left. I was entirely satisfied with it all. We have another beach day tomorrow and I am looking forward to that with some more great times with the entire team!

Novice Men

Day Four- Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Varsity Women Four

Amanda Kronemeyer ’15
Major: Nursing
Hometown: Kalamazoo, MI

Today was a “normal” day for a rowing training camp; row, nap, row, with lots of food in between. We started off our day early, some meeting for breakfast in the lobby at 6:30 to prepare for our long morning row. During our first practice, we did a lot of drill. The varsity crews were in pairs and fours, with a lone single making it out there as well. There was a great deal of bobs and waggle drills down, and pause drills on the way back. After this long practice, we had a quick lunch and then back to the hotel for some free time, which for me at least meant a nap by the pool and some relaxing before heading back out. Originally we were planning on a beach trip today, but it was cloudy and not as warm as other days, so that plan changed.

Later in the afternoon, it was back out on the water for a nice little two and a half hour row. The 1V men’s boat was split into two fours, but the rest of us got to practice in eights, a nice change. This practice we went the farthest I’ve ever been, past where I thought the waterway ended and we had to turn around. Down my boat did pyramids with the novice women, with different stroke rates for a number of strokes. On the way back, every boat was doing the same thing, with a staggered start, really looking at the propulsion of the strokes. It was a competition to see how few strokes the boats could take to get to a certain point, with one of the men’s fours winning.

Now, we are all back at the hotel getting ready to head out for New Years, going to the Pineapple Drop! It should be a fun time, and something good here to do that gives us all a break from rowing. Happy New Years!

Beach Pic

Walter Schaub ’17
Major: Theatre
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

After a very long Monday, we got back at it bright and early at about 7:00 a.m in a low tide launch. Our novice mens team rowed into the canal by our launch spot, did some drill work and a bit of racing, tried out some all 8 racing in preparation for the afternoon regatta, and headed in. Hungry and wet, we put away the boats and grabbed some lunch. Back at the hotel after practice, most of us grabbed a nap so we could function during second practice and the new years celebration.

Second practice came quick, with a 3:30 launch and warm up row down the canal about 7 kilometers. Our coach, Hugh, joined us as 7 seat in our Novice 8, which was interesting and new. At the starting line, coach B sent off all the 8’s, and we started our race. Rowing our 8 with a low stroke rate, trying to have the fewest strokes by the end but still win, was heavy and a lot of work. In the end our boat came in second place, with a furious finish side by side with the first place. (they had far fewer strokes though)

after practice everyone grabbed whatever food they could find, and got cleaned up to go downtown. Sarasota turns up for New Years, and it was much bigger than a lot of us expected. Once at the celebration, we made a group of rowers and started dancing. We put in much more than the 60 minutes of dancing coach wanted us to do, but we put aside our soreness from rowing and boogied down. The pineapple dropped at midnight, everyone cheered, and 2014 is here!
The day was long, tiring, and very fun. Good memories were created, and we hit it again in the morning

Varsity Women Four

Erika Colins ’17
Major: Broadcasting and Journalism
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

On this brisk new years eve morning the water at the launch site was extremely shallow. So shallow in fact, we had to walk the boats about 150 yards from the shore until the water was deep enough. The morning practice went well for my eight and I. We did some basic drills and raced against our other men’s novice eight. I’ve been trying to get better at coaching the guys as they row and correcting their technique. I still feel so new at this, because I am, but my teammates say that I’ve improved a lot since the fall.

During the afternoon practice I rode with our guest coach, Kit, in the launch, out to where we would all be racing. Kit had some really great in site on rowing and offered the guys new metaphors and ways to look at certain aspects of rowing. I really admire his coaching ability and I’m glad I had the opportunity to learn from him on this trip. Once we reached the starting line, which was somewhere in the Venice area, I switched places with one of the guest coaches and coxed for the Varsity Women’s eight. I was really nervous because I’ve never really coxed women, let alone varsity women. We raced all the way back to the bridge and thankfully the girls in the eight said I did a great job. That made me feel really good. I talked with Coach B. afterwards, and I now realize that if I slow down the stroke rate a little bit the boat will move more smoothly and be more balanced.

I really think this trip to Florida and my entire experience of being on this team from the beginning has been incredible. I’ve never had the opportunity to be on a sports team, and learning about team work on Grand Valley rowing has been the best way to start. This is something I never would have imagined I’d be doing with my life, but I’ve had such an amazing time doing it. I’ve made so many friends, learned so much, and this trip has only strengthened that.

Beach Pic

Thomas Sawicki ’14
Major: Engineering
Hometown: Dearborn, MI

So today was New Year’s Eve, it was a strange day because it was cooler than normal and very windy. The first thing we did was jog to practice like we do every morning and get our boats ready. Then we did waggle drill in pairs. This made for some hairy situations since we got too close to some clam beds. Luckily we did not hit anything. The row back was quite a challenge since the wind was coming towards us. When we got back the bushes and mangroves blocked the wind in the cove to make for some calm water. When we got back to the hotel we got word that we would not be going to the beach since it was so cool out. So I did what I thought was right and slept for two hours the afternoon practice was fun since it was a race with taking the fewest amount of strokes. I was happy that my boat won. When we got back we all got cleaned up and ready to go to downtown Sarasota for then pineapple drop while there we had an awesome time walking around, dancing, and seeing all the sites. At the end of the night I have to say it was a good day.

Day Five- Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

Varsity Women Four

Zack Peters ’17
Major: Finance and General Management
Hometown: Royal Oak, MI

Today was a good day to be on Grand Valley Crew. We had a late start on the first day of the year and a slow one at that. Once the novice men got on the water we limbo rowed out by pairs in the four and by sixes in the eight. On the way out we saw two sets of dolphins swimming close to our boats. As we reached the extent of our row out we then turned and did the same limbo row all the way to where we launched.

After we got off the water the whole GV Crew boarded the bus and went for a day at the beach. At the beach we held the Beach Olympics where the two teams were the novice men with the varsity women and the novice women and the varsity men (with all of the coxswains). Our first event was damsels in distress where five people were chosen to stand in the water and five others were chosen to rescue them faster than the other team rescued their damsels. The second game was some type of human bridge game where each team lined up and had one racer run across their backs and try to beat the other team. The final game was watermelon rugby. This consists of two greased up watermelons and two adrenaline filled teams of college students in the water trying to get both melons to the end zone.

At the end of the day some of us danced in a drum circle and others searched the beach for sea glass and shark teeth. We all saw a few sting rays once we were all out of the water. For dinner the novice men and the novice women went to Bimini’s bar and grill for some grub after a long day in the sun. Overall it was a great day that I was happy to share with the GV Crew.

Beach Pic

Morgan North ’17
Major: Special Education
Hometown: Royal Oak, MI

After a fun but long night at the Sarasota pineapple drop, we got to sleep in later than usual and catch breakfast around 10:00, leaving our rooms around noon to get our boats on the water by 12:30. Novice men did a lot of drill work today after getting on the water later than scheduled due to some launch difficulties. They did a lot of slow steady state with high power, working on timing and control, showing a lot of improvement.
After practice, GVSU rowing took on the beach for some intense beach Olympics. Novice men and varsity women versus varsity men, novice women, and the coxswains. Surprisingly, the seagulls decided to swarm our Crisco covered watermelons, shortening our water rugby game, but we all got a good laugh out of it. After searching the beach for shark teeth with a lot of successful finds, we headed back to the hotel after about an hour at the beach to catch the Rose Bowl. We started out the New Year working hard, with some fun, and we have a lot to look forward to.

GV Spirit

Kathryn Dirkmaat ’16
Major: Special Education
Hometown: Rockford, MI

After a night of celebrating the new year in downtown Sarasota, we all got to sleep in. We started the day with breakfast at the hotel. Following breakfast, we had a later practice where I got the opportunity to learn how to row a single. Coach Alyssa coached me through it. I spent the practice rowing around in circles, working on my technique and skill in the single. The time went pretty fast and I enjoyed the chance to row in a single. After practice, we all worked together to put our boats away and clean up our stuff and then split into two groups to get ready for Beach Olympics. We went to Nokomis beach and participated in a few team games. The games involved a Crisco greased watermelon in the water, crawling across teammates backs in the sand, and saving damsels in distress. After that fun filled afternoon at the beach, we came back to the hotel to shower and hang out before going out to dinner. And that was the end of our new year’s day.

Novice Women

Rachel Nowicki ’15
Major: Hospitality and Tourism Management Major
Hometown: Clinton Twp., MI

After a fun night dancing in downtown Sarasota at the Pineapple drop, we all got to catch up on some much needed sleep. Following breakfast at the hotel, we all headed down to the water for practice at noon. This week, I have been working with the novice team and coxing the novice women’s 8+. During our steady state practice, we focused on low rate and high power and even got to see some dolphins. After heading back in, we all go on the bus to head for the beach for the Watermelon Bowl. The team was split into two teams: the south team which was comprised of novice women, coxswains, and varsity men vs. the north team which was comprised of the novice men and varsity women. The teams faced off in two different games and then versed off in the famous “greased watermelon game.” The seagulls seemed to love the Crisco on the watermelon and decided to attack the team in the middle of the game. Once the games were over and the south team won, some of the varsity girls and I went for a long walk on the beach to collect seashells. Soon after, we all headed back to the hotel to get ready for some dinner and to watch the Rose Bowl.

Coaches Blog

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

The Coaches

Combined Coaches’ Blog:

With the week nearly gone, the GVSU assistant coaches got together for dinner to talk about how the camp has gone so far. Our reflections are below.

Coach: Alyssa O’Donnell
Varsity Assistant Coach

Today was the first day we saw some dolphins! At first we saw one right behind one of our women’s pairs and then we saw two more on the way back to the site. Now that I’m a Michigander and haven’t seen a dolphin since I was last a rower on the intracoastal waterway, this was all too exciting!

Of course throughout the week we have taken video and pictures of the rowers, critiquing them and capturing the moments of the trip. It seems they enjoy the advances technology has provided us to help them with their own improvements and our own professional development. And of course they ham it up for pictures too!

Last night we went to the Pineapple Drop in downtown Sarasota and really enjoyed ourselves. We went on a couple different rides, walked around, played some games and completed our last workout of the day with a mandatory 60 minutes of dancing. I must say I really had some fun dancing with my rowers on the way back on the bus and chanting the infamous GV-SU!

Today we took our second practice to the beach! We carried on the tradition of the GVSU Greased Watermelon game, with the winners being the team comprised of the Varsity men and Novice women. Although, for the first time there was a big game changer, we had an even larger team show up to the beach; a fleet of about 150 seagulls! The birds wanted to nom on the Crisco covered watermelon so much that we had to cut the game short before an eye was pecked out. To finish off the afternoon we were scavenging along the beach looking for shark teeth that Coach Hugh pointed out to us! A majority of the team went home with quite the collection of shark teeth and various seashells!

Tomorrow is a new day and the ongoing battle of Alyssa vs. the launches, launches 5, Alyssa 3, will continue and hopefully the odds will ever be in my favor (we watched the Hunger games on the bus ride down…)

Happy New Year and as always, keep pulling for the Laker Navy!!

Coach Kelsey Arnold
Novice Women’s Blog

Eight novice women have taken the opportunity to leave the snowy north and spend a week in Florida to improve their stroke and reach a higher level of competition. Since their arrival, they have experienced many firsts in their rowing journey.

Saturday kicked off one of many rows in salt water, as well as dealing with multiple large wakes from sharing the water with other boaters. Sunday marked the first “survival row” as a light rain turned into a downpour with high winds and large swells. The novices were no doubt more appreciative of the Grand Rivers flat waters.

On Monday the team spent the afternoon at Siesta Key beach, soaking up the rays on the flour-like sand. The New Years Eve Regatta marked the longest row yet for the novice women, with a combined mileage of 36,000 kilometers with that morning’s practice. Later they experienced the Pineapple drop to welcome in 2014 in downtown Sarasota. At Wednesday’s practice two dolphins were spotted, and stingrays were also spotted during the team events at the beach later that afternoon.

It has been a pleasure coaching this group of athletes. They are extremely coachable and I am looking forward to our last few practices and more firsts for the novices.

Coach: Hugh McKeegan
Novice Men’s Coach

The novice men have enjoyed a productive camp so far, despite a couple of hiccups along the way. We’ve been spending a lot of time getting back to basics – rowing on the square, swing pick, etc. – and putting in a lot of miles. The guys have been making good improvements across the board and the rowing has gotten sharper with each practice. For my part, it’s been a tiring – but fun – week.

Sunday afternoon’s practice was probably the most exciting outing of the week. While the guys handled the windy conditions on the way home exceptionally well, the same could not be said for me and my little launch – thankfully, a couple of local fishermen, Joseph and Darren, happened along and gave me a tow for the last half mile back to the launching site. After a “memory enhancement” exercise at the hotel between practices on Monday, the novice men did eventually make it to the beach at the end of a long afternoon row, landing the boats and jogging a few yards across the dune to the gulf. The New Year’s Eve festivities kicked off with some tough low stroke rate racing – yours truly filling the seven seat in one of the novice men’s crews, and hopefully not scaring the guys with my incredibly rough stroke – and culminated in a great evening at the “Pineapple Drop” in downtown Sarasota.

With the last team beach outing today – seagulls, shark’s teeth, and crazy team games – we’re down to our last day and a half in Florida. I, for one, will miss the (relatively) warm weather and liquid water of Osprey when we get back to Michigan on Saturday. That being said, this camp will hopefully provide us with some good momentum going into the second half of winter training.






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.

Copyright 2015-2016 Grand Valley State University Rowing Club. All Rights Reserved.