Archive for December, 2014

The Laker Navy Wraps Up Winter Training 2014

Sunday, December 21st, 2014



This past week in Florida has been very successful. The team couldn’t have asked for better weather – not one drop of rain until the last day. Not only did we have a week filled with technical practice, but we also had a lot of time to have fun in the sun!

The Laker Navy had the opportunity to put in a lot of mileage this week. We spent a lot of time perfecting our bladework as a crew and making huge improvements overall. It was awesome to be able to row on the beautiful waters of Tampa Bay and the Hillsborough River, and we were even visited by dolphins and jellyfish during practices. (We also tried our hardest to get Coach Bancheri onto a cruise ship that we rowed past -maybe we’ll have better luck next time!) It was cool to hear the people aboard cheering us on as we showed off our newly improved technical skills.

Even though our week was jam packed with practices we found plenty of time to enjoy sunny Florida. We spent three of our afternoons at Clearwater Beach, soaking up the sunshine, playing beach volleyball and enjoying the waves. We also enjoyed our fair share of ice cream while fending off the local seagulls (some of us were more successful at seagull dodging than others). We had the opportunity to participate in and observe many street performances and were astonished as they performed magic tricks, swallowed fire and jumped through hoops! Luckily everyone remembered to reapply their sunscreen as we progressed throughout the week. With our Michigan skin bronzed and our bodies tired from a day at the beach. We got back on the bus and headed to the hotel.

Life at the Barrymore Hotel was relaxing. We spent the hours between and after practices hanging out with our teammates by the pool and exploring downtown Tampa. The hotel had a delightful pool area where we played cards, catch, and listened to music. It was convenient that the hotel was close enough to practice for us to walk there and it was near many local restaurants and entertainment opportunities for us to enjoy. When not out exploring Tampa, we enjoyed two pizza nights, thanks to the support from our parents, which provided us with great bonding time as we ate together as a team. It was also great to have a chance to meet Bob Monaghan, without whom many of our rowers would not have been able to make the trip. Hearing about his experiences as a alumni and as a member of the first crew team at Grand Valley was fascinating and really emphasized how far our program has come over the last 50 years.

We want to thank all of our friends, family, and supporters, who make it possible for us to have the opportunity to travel to work on preparing ourselves physically and technically for the upcoming spring season, and to enjoy the chance to spend a week in Florida exploring a new city and having memorable experiences with our teammates. We especially thank our parents, guest coach Ted Deakin, our alumni supporters – specifically Bob Monaghan and Shane Szalai – friend of the program John Reichner, the Barrymore Hotel, the Stewards Foundation of Tampa (specifically Denny Antrim, whose assistance at the rowing venue helped make our training run smoothly), Dale our bus driver, and the state of Florida for providing us with a week of absolutely immaculate rowing conditions.

Thank You to All Winter Training Supporters!

Sunday, December 21st, 2014



With the conclusion of another successful winter training camp, the Laker Navy would like to thank the many people whose combined efforts made this trip possible. Firstly, thank you to the Barrymore hotel for their kindness and hospitality throughout the duration of our stay. Next, the team would like to thank the Tampa Stewards Foundation as well as guest coach Ted Deakin for all the time and effort they’ve given to help the Lakers get faster this past week. Finally, We would like to give a huge thank you to all of our alumni and supporters who made this trip possible. Furthermore, we would like to extend a special thank you to Bob Monaghan, John Reichner, and Shane Szalai for their scholarships to help select Lakers to afford this years winter training trip. With the help and support of everyone mentioned above, this has been one of the best winter training trips in the history of Grand Valley Rowing. There is no doubt that the Laker Navy just became a little bit faster over the last eight days in Florida. Make sure to check back throughout the next few months to see senior spotlights and follow the team as they make the push towards Spring season. Keep Pulling for the Laker Navy!

Final Day – Saturday, December 20, 2014

Saturday, December 20th, 2014



Athlete: Nicholas Maodush-Pitzer’15

Home Town: Grand Rapids, MI
Major: Elementary Education

As with all sports, rowing is very much a sensory experience. It takes an acute understanding of each action we make in a boat to really make a boat move fast, or “sing”, as Coach Bancheri likes to explain it. This week, with the beautiful weather and the near flawless water (even in the big bay!) we have been practicing, on the Laker Navy has been afforded the opportunity to fine-tune our ability to string together the five senses we experience while rowing.

Beginning with the written daily practice plans, we are able to learn/review what it is we will be feeling in the boat over the course of practice. Once at practice, we get to partake in Coach B’s famed Chalk Talks, listening to the wisdom of a man who’s been in the rowing world for around 40 years, and even being asked to simulate some rowing principles on land that we will be challenged to duplicate on the water. For example, one such exercise that we have done a few times this week was sitting toe-to-toe on the ground with a partner and trying to stand up, showing us how much easier it is to do so when our arms are kept straight and the quads are engaged, versus doing so with straight arms, thus putting a lot of stress in the shoulders. In doing so we can optimize the muscles we use as we move through each stroke. In this way we get to simulate the proper feel of a strong, effective drive through the water.

Early in the week, our sense of sound in the boat was reinforced, as Coach had us focusing on the end of the stroke as the blades release from the water and feather towards the bow, the sleeves rotating inside their oarlocks simultaneously, making a resonating *click* as all of the oarspeople prepare to slide towards the next stroke. As we get up to the catch Coach also focused our ears towards hearing a simultaneous *thunk* as our blades back into the water, creating a vacuum for a split second in front of, then behind the blade. For me, these two distinctive sounds are the biggest struggle over the course of the stroke, as they imply perfect timing with one, three, or seven other oarsmen. This doubles as the biggest rush of all, however, as it indicates a cohesiveness of a crew that understands the minute details necessary for optimal boat speed.

Another helpful tool for rowers to use and has been practiced this week is the visual cues that we experience from stroke to stroke. As coach reminds us frequently, especially when practicing circle drills in small boats, is that “the eyes are world’s best camera.” That is, what we see in our own and each others’ strokes can help us more than anything else, since we can produce immediate feedback on both our strengths and weaknesses. Our eyes allow us to follow along with the person in front of us, timing our body movements together as we get ready to match up those audible parts of the stroke together.

The smells and tastes of rowing get a little more fuzzy, so here goes nothing. Having spent eight hot Florida days practicing and rooming together, it would be easy for an outsider to guess that we have been working hard all week, sweating through the same t-shirts and spandex multiple times over, creating quite the unpleasant scent that we drag along with us through our hotel rooms, to practice, and to the beach. Despite the showers, dips in the swimming pool, and breezy trips to the beach we manage to carry with us a pungent, well-earned, and victorious scent. It is a scent indicative of a hard-practicing, hard-relaxing crew that collectively wants one thing for themselves and each other: the taste of sprint season victory. (See, I made it all work)

Looking back on the least eight days it can safely be said, and has been said by Coach B, that this has been a highly successful week of trainging, even the most successful week of winter training Grand Valley Rowing has ever put together, culminating in a three hour practice of speed work and technical mastery, followed by a few hours of cooling out on the beach. From the coaching staff, to the guest coaches, to the captains, to the varsity and novice rowers, this week has been gone by without a hitch, using combination of cooperation and patience that allows us to both put it all on the water and kick it with each other off the water. It’s one of the greatest parts of Grand Valley Rowing that lets me know these past three and a half years in this program has been completely worth it, and the next half year has great things in store for the entire team.

On behalf of the E-Board, I would like to thank all members of the Laker Navy that have made this trip possible. This trip could not have happened without all of our parents, GV faculty, academic advisors, and alumni that have provided us the chance to soak up some tropical sun and have valuable water time in the middle of the indoor rowing season.

Day Seven – Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday, December 19th, 2014



Athlete: Kaitlyn Van Boven’15

Home Town: Fremont, MI
Major: Elementary Education

It’s hard to believe that today is already Friday, and our adventures here in Florida are coming to an end. Today was our last full day off practices. The morning practice was a long, but productive one for us women. We made it to the end of the rowable part of the river and ended up rowing a total of 14 miles for the morning. We got off the water exhausted, but with a feeling of accomplishment knowing how much mileage we had just put in. As Coach B and Fairbairn always says, “Mileage makes champions.” After eating lunch at the course we headed back to the hotel for a power nap to get ready for another productive practice.

This evening’s practice was another great practice with a lot of miles put in. This time we were in eights with varsity and novices mixed. It was great to have novices in the boat to learn from us varsity rowers, and to also work on the basics. Even though this is my fourth year rowing, I’m still learning to perfect the basics. Even today I had an “aha” moment when Coach Hugh pointed out a simple fix to the finish of my stroke. It is important to continue to grow in the sport and make productive changes every day on the water.

At the end of practice the entire fleet of GVSU boats came together to take the traditional winter break picture. We line all the boats together as the blades cross. We then all stand up and pose with our hands in the air. After the picture was taken, we rowed back the docks and put our boats away for the night. Coach was given two Row Tampa 2015 shirts to give to the two deserving athletes. We held a friendly contest to decide who would get them. For the women Allison Pingston won with her impressive one legged squat skills, and for the men Nick MP won with his extraordinary twerking skills. After our fun contests, we made our way back to the hotel where we ate delicious pizza. It was like a magic show when 36 large pizzas disappeared in 10 minutes. Overall, today was a great day. Looking forward to another great morning of rowing a beach day tomorrow!

Athlete: Dom Fischer’15
Home Town: Ada, MI
Major: Chemistry/Cell and Molecular Biology

This morning started off by getting up at 6:45. On my way down to the team room with a couple fellow rowers for breakfast, we spotted our assistant coach Allison Sobiech and offered a hand with the food. After the walk over to the practice course , I proceeded to launch in a pair with my partner Vince Amatangelo. While we were out doing circle drills in the pairs the women headed out in 4’s. Vince and I had been pair partners the day before as well and after this mornings practice we could not help but talk about the improvement in our balance and power.

After practice a couple of the guys and I went down to the pool for a quick dip between practice. When 3 o’clock rolled around the Men’s 1v and 2v launched for a long steady state row with Coach B. On this long row we were able to see parts of the bay that we had never seen. Before all the boats made the return trip to the dock we all gathered for a team picture out in front of the Tampa Bay Convention Center. The team was treated tonight with a generous team dinner from Domino’s. These days in Tampa have been both productive and fun. There have been great improvements across the board by rowers both experienced and novice. Based on what I have seen so far I am very excited for the competitive spring season to come.






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