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.
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!
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!
Meredith Ament ’17
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.
Calvin Knape ’17
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!