Archive for March, 2015

2015 Spring Training Trip Wrap Up

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Athlete: Nick Maodush-Pitzer ’15

President of the Grand Valley Rowing Club

Home Town: Grand Rapids, MI

Major: Elementary Eduation and Mathematics

Another year, another expertly conducted Spring Break training trip by the Laker Navy, and my final training trip, being an outgoing senior. Thanks to the support of our parents, donors, advisors, friends, our hosts at The Barrymore Hotel and The Stewards’ Rowing Foundation in Tampa, and especially our coaches, Grand Valley Rowing heads home after a successful round of scrimmaging with Georgia Tech on the Chattahoochee River today having spent the previous week skilling, drilling, and racing our way through our initiation into the Spring 2015 season. After spending the last three-and-a-half months training exclusively indoors (save for the weeklong Winter Training Trip), the Laker Navy had been itching to smell the salty air of the Tampa Bay and hear the splashes of the water, clicking of the oarlocks, squeaking of the seats’ wheels, and the “loud coaching” from Coach B that only the experience of being in real boats, on real water can provide.

As expected, our first few rows of the week could be categorized as rough, as we eased back into the motions of real rowing that cannot be simulated on an erg, such as reaching around the pin on the oarlock at the catch, leaning out into the rigger throughout the stroke, and feathering the blades in unison. Almost eight years after my first ever strokes in a boat, these are all things that still need time and repetitions to work on and perfect, and what a better place to do that than the Hillsborough River in the sunny city of Tampa? As the week progressed and we did our usual mixture of long steady state rows, technical drills, and speed work, there is a uniform feeling around the team that this was, in fact, the most productive spring training trip we have ever been on. Beyond what we gained and oarsmen and oarswomen, there is the added sense of sportsmanship and team bonding that occurred this week, as an intense week of training does wonders to build cohesiveness, camaraderie, and a feeling of trust between the remaining athletes of this team with a common goal of creating an armada of FAST boats. As a senior and team President, being able to witness that development first-hand provides me with the belief that this team will succeed not only this Spring, but for many Fall and Spring seasons to come.

One ubiquitous part of retrograde analysis of any training regimen is the realization and rationalizing of the successes mixed with the frustrations of the process at hand. No practice is universally “perfect” in every way; there will always be strokes where blades are dragging on the water, strokes may feel a bit rushed, or the run just is not as long as you’d like. Inevitably, these glitches serve to frustrate us in the middle of a practice when we are all trying to row each stroke as perfect as possible. However, as Coach B has said, the beauty of our sport is that, yes, we are all bound to make mistakes in this sport, but we have thousands of strokes in a practice and hundreds of strokes in a race to work on fixing those mistakes. ask ira . At the end of the day, we all want to step onto the docks feeling like we have improved individually and as a boat from the previous practice. To steal a line from The Other Wes Moore, “It’s not always the process you should focus on; it’s the joy you will feel after you go through the process.” So as we look back on this week, I think we can all return home feeling that, while each boat still has its kinks to work out, we have all made major progress in a short span of time, and realize that we still have three months to identify and correct those kinks, thanks to the dedicated nature of our athletes and the expert advice of our coaching staff.

To everyone reading these blogs and following the progress of the Laker Navy, thank you for everything you do for the team. We take a high level of pride in being able to produce for you the updates on our training, with the purpose of building your confidence in us and what we do. Through blogging we hope that you feel as integral to the team as the individuals that we physically surround ourselves with every day, and can trust, just as we do, that we can live up to our reputation as Giant Killers within the rowing community, and produce another successful Spring racing season. And, as always, Pull for the Laker Navy.

Day Nine – Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Athlete: David Blythe ’16

Home Town: Canton, MI

Major: Accounting/MIS

After arriving in Roswell Georgia last night the Lakers got an early start this morning in preparation to scrimmage with Georgia Tech. The practice consisted of four 1000 meter pieces on the Chattahoochee River. Great work was put in by all crews and the teams ended the morning practice with a lunch graciously provided by Georgia Tech. We’re very grateful for all of the hospitality that the Laker Navy received today from a hosted lunch to a shuttle service from the hotel to the race course.

This marks the end of the spring training trip and has been the best one in the history of Grand Valley Rowing according to Coach Bancheri. After 9 days of warm Florida and Georgia weather, most of the team is reluctant to head back to snowy Michigan. As the team returns to Allendale we will look to take the on water mileage gained during the past weeks and continue to get faster in preparation for the spring racing season.

There are only 20 more days until the team makes an appearance in the San Diego crew class as the teams first regatta of the spring season. After a productive week on the Hillsborough River in Tampa, the season is shaping to be one of the fastest in Grand Valley History. Check back to track the teams progression through the spring season and keep pulling for the Laker Navy

Day Eight – Saturday, March 7, 2015

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

Athlete: Brittany Castillo ’18

Home Town: Coopersville, MI

Major: Math/Psychology

After a long week of exhausting practices, relaxing beach days, and quality bonding time as a team, the Laker Navy is on the road to a successful spring season.

The day started bright and early with some scrimmages. We did four sprint races, each four minutes long. It was great to put the skills we have been working on all week, and all season, to the test. Having the chance to get some good racing practice in is always beneficial, and helps us to improve in ways that practicing on our own sometimes just can’t do. We are able to really work on improving both as individuals and as a team in a more competitive environment going head to head with other boats which, for the novices like myself, may be somewhat unfamiliar.

After the races, it was a quick lunch by the course and then time to start de-rigging boats. Then after everyone packed up their hotel rooms and loaded luggage on the bus, it was back to the boats to finish loading up the trailer. Now it’s back on the bus for a long ride, and hopefully some well deserved rest, to prepare for the scrimmages in store for the team tomorrow in Georgia.

Overall it was a very productive week for GV crew, and I think we can all say that we have improved significantly, and that we are excited and determined to face the upcoming races so that we can show how hard we’ve been working and how far we’ve come.

Athlete: Donald Jensen ’18

Home Town: Grosse Ile, MI

Major: Mechanical Engineering

This morning we woke up to the beautiful Tampa weather for practice at 6:30. We went and go some breakfast to prepare for our one practice of the day before we headed off to Georgia. After being successful in my seat races earlier during the week I had the opportunity to row in the 1st varsity for the mornings workout. We did a nice long warmup and then rocked out some hard 4 minute pieces at race pace in eights. After some switches and several pieces later we headed in to load the trailer.

We cleaned all the equipment to insure the salt water didn’t damage it and then loaded the trailer for travel to Georgia. After checking out of the wonderful Barrymore hotel we checked over the the trailer and then left for Georgia. The hard practice this morning was a great chance for our two top eights to see how much we have improved over this great week of training. And was an awesome yet challenging way to end our spring break stay in Tampa bay.

Day Seven – Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Athlete: Carley Jensen ’15

Home Town: Goodrich, MI

Major: Criminal Justice

Today we had practice at 8am and started de-rigging small boats and loading up the trailer, which showed just how close we were to leaving this wonderful place they call Tampa. After an in-depth chalk talk on the erg arm about the starts and body positions of the stroke with Coach B, we headed out in 8’s with Coach Hugh and worked on starts and got in some good meters with a lot of drills. We did some 10, 10, & 10s with different stroke rates and it was a really productive practice for the women. After practice, we all ate lunch and some people went to the aquarium while most others stuck around the hotel and hung out. It was cloudy today so the pool wasn’t as popular of a hang out as it has been all week!

Our second practice this evening was a pre-race fartlek in preparation for our scrimmage against Nova Southeastern tomorrow in the Tampa Bay. It was short, but went really well and you could tell just how focused everyone was for our races tomorrow. Also, we can’t forget the traditional and well organized team picture we get every year! Multiple boats joined together as one, with nothing but laughs and smiles from all the men and women. Now I am heading to the Pirates vs. Yankees spring training game with a group of ladies and gentleman and am excited to watch America’s favorite pastime with some close friends.

This week has been great and the weather even better. I am not looking forward to returning to the cold weather in Allendale, but I am looking forward to an amazing season with my ladies and the scrimmages this weekend here and at Georgia Tech! We have put in a lot of good work during this trip and can’t wait to see what is in store for the Laker Navy this spring season. Last one fast one, seniors.

Athlete: Spencer West ’15

Home Town: Grand Rapids, MI

Major: Wildlife Biology

This morning started off as the rest of the mornings on these training trips usually do, with a bunch of sleepy rowers waking up for a quick breakfast before heading to the training facility for the morning practice. The men were in eights for the morning, with the 1V and 2V going with Coach Bancheri for the workout. We did a lot of skill and drill, as well as several starts, along with some steady state, putting together everything we’ve been working on all week. The gap between practices was filled with homework, napping, while some people went to the Florida Aquarium in downtown Tampa. When we went back for our second practice in the afternoon, the air had cooled and the winds had picked up. Nevertheless, the 60 degree Florida weather was happily accepted knowing that it was below 20 degrees back home in Allendale today.

During our second practice, we did Coach’s “pre-race fartlek,” doing some short pieces at race pace, looking for the top speeds and maximum run that we could get from the boat. At the end of the practice, all of the boats (5 eights and 2 fours) were brought together for the usual training camp team picture. After we all were back in our seats, the boats disbanded and we headed in for the docks. Dinner for the team was very graciously provided for by parent donation money, through the collaboration of our fantastic advisor, Chris Scott. We ordered 28 large trays of pasta and 140 breadsticks from Pizza Hut. Needless to say, everybody had their fill.

Training in Florida this past week has been a one of many “last experiences” for me as a senior on the team. Being on the team has taken me many places and has caused me to develop lifelong friendships and relationships. My experiences have also given me an insight to the program as a whole, by seeing older athletes graduate after their four years, and seeing students younger than me join this team, becoming integral athletes of the program. This year, the group we have is more driven than ever. With everybody pushing each other to be constantly improving, the team is always getting faster. Our speed and ability is determined by what we do at each and every practice, a required focus that is hard to maintain. Training trips like these really give us the opportunity to zero in on our goals, and to work together as a team through Coach’s training to become faster, stronger, and oriented towards the same goals and expectations.

Tomorrow morning, Grand Valley Rowing kicks off the spring season with races against Holy Cross for the men and Nova Southeastern for the women. The work we have put in all season thus far, especially this week, will start to show as we face off against other crews. Our crews are shaped and built by that work, and how fast we go on race day is simply a demonstration of how hard we’ve worked in the many months before.






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