Archive for January, 2016

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

2015 – 2016 Winter Training Wrap Up

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

Scott Thorbjornsen, President GVSU Rowing Club

Hometown: Bangor, MI

Major: Speech Pathology

By planes, trains, and automobiles the Laker Navy returns home after 10 days of technical rowing in sunny Tampa, FL. Reflecting back on the trip there are many highlights. A few are the warm weather, the couple beach days we had, and the quality time spent with teammates. That includes walking along the Tampa Riverwalk enjoying the sights of the city, cramming ice cream into our mouths, and celebrating New Year’s with fireworks. The trip wasn’t all sunshine and beaches though. Most days involved waking up with the sun to perfect our technique by listening to our coach give Olympic level chalk talks and then put those words into action on the water. With our coaches explaining the stroke from the launch we watches our blades to make sure it was following the perfect path. Everyone took advantage of the time this week to focus on their stroke and be more effective in the water. At the end of each day we were mentally and physically exhausted. It was made better by the awesome food provided by parents and alumni. We are the best fed crew around and because of that we were able to perform well everyday.

A few days we had the opportunity to increase our engines and workout on the ergs. Although we initially were down about erging the whole team picked each other up and pushed forward to produce fast results that will give us an edge when spring racing comes around. With everyday we grew faster and closer as a team. This trip helps create a team culture that brings lots of success. We learned what Lombardi time was from guest coach Joe Haney and how we had been using it without knowing what it was and realizing that our attitudes coming into practice can affect the productivity of the team. These lessons will go a long way not only in rowing but in our future careers.

This whole trip was a complete success. The food, weather, coaching staff, including our guest coaches Joe Haney and Vinnie Puma, and the support of our parents and alumni this trip could only have been successful. Thank you to all who help the Laker Navy. We appreciate everything you do. Now I take my leave, although I will miss the warm weather, Michigan is calling my name.

Coaching Staff and Supporter Bob Monhan
(left to right) Coach Alison Sobiech, Coach Michelle Goodwin, Coach Costas Ciungan, Head Coach John Bancheri, Alumni and Supporter Bob Monahan, and Guest Coach Joe Haney

Costas Ciungan ’14, Assistant Men’s Coach

Hometown: Grosse Ile, MI

This Winter Training Trip concludes with a team stronger and technically better. Tim Duncan once stated “Good, Better, Best . Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.” That is the exact culture we are trying to build in Grand Valley Rowing. Every athlete always striving to be the best they are capable of becoming both academically and athletically. As a coach, I look to help build that culture and to improve athletic capacity. Between the equipment, the coaching, the coxswains, the student-athletes, and the many blogs, it is evident that this is not a one person production, but a team effort both in terms of learning and improving technique. From coaches instruction to athletes learning from each other, this Winter Training Trip has been a great success and we owe it to all of our dedicated student athletes as well as our donors and supporters, our success is truly yours.

Special Thanks to Bob Monahan and surrounding alumni for providing lunch, as well as the Homeister and Goodwin families who provided dinner. In addition, Special Thanks to guest coach Joe Haney, guest coach Vinnie Puma, and guest coach John Reichner.
Through out the week I have seen athletes improve in Posture, Timing, Control, Balance, Bladework, and the development of touch as many had an opportunity to analyze their rowing and get individual coaching attention.

This trip I mostly worked with the varsity men’s program and a small group of novice men. The women’s and men’s team both had a mix of older varsity members and a developmental group of newer rowers in regards to experience. The result was a lot of learning, as older rowers helped the newer rowers, and a stronger team was the result along with a successful Winter Training Trip.

The Coaching was another aspect that made this Winter Training Trip a success with four coaches and three guest coaches who came to teach, correct, and help develop great technique and better rowers. Coach Bancheri was instrumental for having everyone start back at square one, focusing on posture and timing and how those aspects allow for the mastery of control and balance. We broke down the rowing stroke and further developed the understanding of how every aspect of rowing flows together. Many athletes, especially the younger group in terms of experience, learned how each aspect builds upon the other. I was thrilled with the amount dedication and focus to the details and to see each athlete helping each other out.


As for myself, I was happy to see a great group of athletes including four novice men learn from one another, and develop better technique. I feel that many developed a sense of rhythm and touch as many novice rowers saw improvements in their rowing and learned a lot over this winter training trip. This attitude and culture of our team to never give less than your best and to always stay in the pursuit of perfection was evident in the athletes’ attentiveness during chalk talks and video review along with thoughtful questions and a desire for feedback.

I am so thankful I was able to be on this trip to coach, learn, and teach. In addition, I am happy to share with all of our supporters of the many great endeavors, adventures, and lessons our athletes here at Grand Valley Rowing are learning in both rowing and about life. Thank you to everyone who made it possible from our supporters, donors, coaches, and to our student-athletes. The Coaching Staff and Laker Navy are thankful and are looking forward to the great new year and rowing season ahead. Keep pulling for the Laker Navy.

Thursday, January 7th

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

Athlete: Christopher Doherty ’17

Hometown: Traverse City, MI

Major: Clinical Exercise Science

It has been a bittersweet ending to our annual winter training trip. A lot of hard work was put in by all, and every stroke was another critical step for success in the Spring.

We all had an early wake up today with practice at 7 AM this morning. For our final row of the week, the team participated in the first annual Island Regatta. This inter-squad race had each boat complete two laps of Harbour Island; this competition had us emphasize propulsion per stroke at only 22 strokes per minute. One of the most challenging aspects of this final row was the course itself. Featuring two turns of over ninety degrees, a coxswains course could make or break a single run. A tough but fitting end to our time on the water, the improvements made by all could be easily seen.

After a quick and efficient trailer loading session, those left all piled in vans and headed to sunny Clearwater beach. A fun and relaxing end to our time in Flordia, the athletes of the club were scattered around playing volleyball, beach soccer, swimming, and exploring the surrounding downtown area. Everyone was soaking up the last bit of sun they could before returning to the frigid North. We are very fortunate to be able to train in such an ideal location and have the time to have fun next to the beautiful ocean.

I will be flying out tomorrow morning along with a few of my teammates, saying goodbye to Tampa for another year. For me, this week has been a way to not only improve my fitness and rowing ability, but also to bond with my team; it was especially nice to get to know the novice who earned their way onto this trip. A big thank you to all who made this possible: guest coach Joe Haney, guest coach Vinnie Puma, guest coach John Reichner, the alums who provided lunch, the Homeisters, the Goodwins… the list goes on and on. Its really amazing how much support we get and how far we can and will go with it.

Until next time Tampa!

Athlete: Libby Bradt ’18

Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Today was the last practice on the water until spring break. Instead of working on technique, the plan was to take a field trip around the smaller of the two islands. This field trip was a way to use every thing that we have learn on the trip so far. With a rate at 22 spm each of the boats set off on the trek. The starts of each of the boats were staggered to give a fair chance to all. The Women’s 2V started off first followed by the 1V, the men’s boats followed after. When the first lap was completed, switches were made. Then we set off for another lap. The team was prepared for three laps but after the second one, Coach B called for all the boats to link together for the annual end of trip photo. Then we headed back to the docks on this channel for the last time. Boats came off the water and were washed off and de rigged. The process of loading the trailer had begun. Trailer loading had some challenges but once those were solved it was finished. The team walked back to the hotel from the site for the last time.

For all those that were not flying home today, had one last beach day in Clear Water. Vans were loaded and left for the beach by 1 pm. The trip to the beach was filled with excitement since the sun decided to peak out from behind the clouds. The vans were unloaded faster than they were loaded. Everyone was just happy to be by the gulf for another time. Belongings were placed down and a group walked off to the nearby volleyball courts. Other groups laid out on their towels to soak in the last of rays they could. Even though we are mainly rowers, we like to attempt to play other sports including frisbee, volleyball, and football. By the time the team left the beach everyone was tuckered out and ready to be back at the hotel. The task of packing up everything had begun. As the last of the team leaves the wonderful city of Tampa tomorrow. We reflect on all the things that were learned on this great but hard training trip.

Wednesday, January 6th

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

Athlete: Dominic Biolochini ’18

Hometown: Oxford, CA

Major: Elementary Education

Today started as the last few have, a bit chilly. The JV men and women went right at it with their 3 X 4K pieces. At the same time the Varsity Men and Women went out on the water for a long steady state row. Today’s morning row focused on the length at the catch. After the row the Varsity Men and Women swapped places with the JV squad and began their 3 X 4K pieces. Great improvements were had by all as most everyone improved from last Wednesday’s pieces here in FL as well.

With a break in between practices we were served another awesome lunch provided by the alumni. BBQ for the second day in a row was splendid. Our last practice of the day was another technical row that helped to work out some of that lactic acid built up from a hard set of pieces. As the technical trip comes to a close with only one more row tomorrow morning we all have made improvements in the stroke and especially with our cardio.

Athlete: Sara Loughman ’19

Hometown: Saline, MI

Major: Undecided

Today was our last full day of practice. We started out our morning with a quick skill and drill row and then moved on to our final ergo of the trip, a 3X3K. This erg piece really shows what progress our team has made since the beginning of the year. Although it was a struggle, some athletes really proved themselves in today’s workout.

After our morning practice, some GVSU rowing alumni provided the team with a great barbecue lunch. It was some good food and a good time with the team. Among these alumni was the first ever student admitted to the university.

After a quick afternoon nap, I went back out for practice. There was a little rain, but it quickly cleared up. We were all still pretty tired from the morning work out, but after a few lineup changes, we went out and had a good practice. After practice everyone all sat together on the hall and ate some pizza and shortly after that we had a vote for captains for the rest of the season. The trip is almost over and I am definitely ready to go home, but I will definitely miss spending time with my team. I feel like we have all improved so much in such a short amount of time.

Athlete: Julia Glenn, 19′

Hometown: Grosse Pointe, MI

Major: Education

Today we met by the boats around 7:30 AM in order to be on the water at 8:00 AM. As a team we circled up and began to stretch. After our muscles were warmed up we got in the Vespoli 8 boat and started out with swing pick working our way to full slide. On the water we focused on the reach into the rigger and Coach B with the help of the guest coaches assisted me in squaring the blade earlier before being in the catch position.

After our work on the water we stretched around the trailer and grabbed a quick snack then headed over to the ergs. Today we had to do a 3 x 4K, which was expected to be 2 seconds slower than our erg scores from Saturday’s past 3 x 3K score. The erg was a tough one for the team since our bodies have been working so hard each day down in Tampa. Although it was a difficult practice we pushed through and many teammates were able to accomplish and achieve the set goal. After we were directed to the poolside of the hotel and what we had waiting for us was an amazing lunch from the Alumni at Grand Valley State University. They were so thoughtful to bring us wonderful bbq!

Since it was a bit cloudy in Tampa most of the teammates headed into their hotel for a nap or just some rest time before the afternoon practice. The afternoon practice consisted of skill and drill work focusing on backing in the blade and getting as much length as possible. The day ended with the crew eating pizza in the hallway in the hotel and voting for our Spring team captains.

It has not only been such a learning experience down in Tampa but also a great rewarding time for the team to bond as a whole.






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.

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