Archive for January, 2016

Tuesday, January 5th

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Athlete: Austin Gentry ’16

Hometown: Corona, CA

Major: Philosophy

I arrived in Tampa about half way through the trip (due to a wedding) but that didn’t stop my team from training very methodically and deliberately for the better part of a week. With that said, I had to jump right in the boat with them and train at the high level that they have been doing so well for a week before I got here. I have a lot of time to make up for them, and for myself, and my body has definitely reflected jumping right into the intensity of several practices a day—walking and crawling out of bed alone is labored to say the least. I am proud of them for putting the work in at the highest level in my absence and seeing their scores improve so heavily and by so much has definitely given me inspiration and they’ve set the bar very high. Living up to the status of such a hard working team and individuals is a challenge for me personally every day, but I really strive to be a good teammate and reflect positivity as much as I can.

It’s so obvious to me that we are already rowing at a much higher level than this time last year and my team’s work ethic is directly correlated with that. I am excited for the season to come and for us to constantly strive for perfection, because with that mindset we will become excellent. A lot of these guys have never won a collegiate race and that’s something that I intend on influencing this year. I’m pulling for the guys in front of me and behind me every day. This is my last chance to have a positive influence on Grand Valley Rowing and I plan on going out with a bang, breaking new barriers, records, and winning/celebrating races with my team.

Athlete: Amy Anderson ’18

Hometown: Okemos, MI

Major: Therapeutic Recreation

Today we were lucky enough to have Vinny Puma, a former coxswain for the United States National Rowing team, accompany us on the beautiful waters of the Tampa Bay. The Grand Valley coxswains got to soak up his knowledge as he told stories and gave advice from many years in the sport of rowing. In the afternoon practice I, a coxswain, got the honor of rowing for the first time in mixed four. I rowed with two varsity men (Vince Amatangelo and Chris Nelson) and a novice woman (Faith Fleming) while Coach Allison coxed. It was interesting to see the boat from a different perspective and not from the coxswain seat.

After another day on the water we all came together for a team dinner, provided by Coach Goodwin’s family. We have eaten so well this trip, the happy demeanor of the team reflects this. We are all very lucky to be able to row in such a beautiful place and be put in such a situation. I can’t wait to get on the water again tomorrow.

Athlete: Cass Bruins, 19′

Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO

Major: Athletic Training

Today started off colder than expected, how ever the clouds and winds didn’t stray our focus from what we are here to do; become better athletes and teammates in the boat. The main focus with our stationary drills this morning was to keep the hands on a level plane through the recovery and the drive. In the novice women’s 8 we struggled in the beginning to keep the hands level and the boat set but as we continued everything fell into place.

In between practice a few of us took a nice leisurely walk to McDonalds on the other side of Tampa. Quite the walk but it was worth it for the French fries.

During the second practice of the day, we had two 30 minute pieces. The novice women did very well in applying all we have learned this week to the pieces and kept with the varsity boat for a majority of each piece. Luckily the sun came out for the second practice and we didn’t come off the water shivering as we did this morning, a great relief for us unprepared novices. To end the day, Coach Michelle’s wonderful family made up an awesome BBQ dinner for the team, which was much appreciated !
All in all, this trip has been such a great opportunity to make everyone better individually as well as a program together.

Monday, January 4th

Monday, January 4th, 2016

Athlete: Chris Nelson ’17

Hometown: Fort Wayne, IN

Major: Mechanical Engineering

The first day of the week was chilly; waking up for the morning row my phone kindly informed me it was a balmy 50 degrees. Luckily I was in colder climes earlier in break, and had a long sleeve shirt to wear for our morning row. We got to the course and listened to Coached B’s trademark chalk talk, instructing us on the finer points of bladework and striking from the balance. We went out in pairs, rowing to our accustomed spot in front of the Tampa Convention Center, doing drive progression drills in large circles that turned into squiggles as we avoided playing bumper boats. We went in for our break, and were pleasantly surprised with donuts!

After half a donut, some water and a slight wardrobe change to adjust to the slowly climbing temps, we were on the water again. Vince and I took out a pair, rowing inland for some solid steady state. Navigating the many bridges was a little stressful with the wind up, but the light boat traffic made things easier.

Once we got in we had a hurried lunch at the hotel, everyone was excited to spend some quality time at Clearwater Beach, the favored place for rowers to play in the ocean. The wind was up and it was chilly, but the water was warm. The water conditions were ‘yellow’ meaning swimmers should be cautious, there was noticeable current and the waves were 4-6 feet. In my worldview, perfect conditions to play in the waves. Shelby and I were the first ones out, and we had a great time in the surf. Once tired we went in and I ventured to Walgreens to get a snack with a small group. Once we had food the massive horde of seagulls came to investigate, we decided to mess with them. I lay out under a towel and Drew set a potato chip on it. They dove in to get it, and I tossed the towel onto one! It sat still under the towel, surprisingly clam. I pulled the towel off and it flew away. After a good snack, we found a volleyball and played a few games. The wind made serving a challenge, but we made it work. In my downtime on the beach I dug a long deep trench to lay in to avoid the wind.

Weights, which were scheduled to be done once we got back were put off until tomorrow morning. Everyone was pleased to hear that. We cleaned up and readied ourselves for dinner provided by the gracious Mr. and Mrs. Homeister . It was turkey, rice, salad, bread and cookies for a sweet finish. It was perfect way to end the day.

Athlete: Hollie Bellinger ’18

Hometown: Hadley, MI

Major: English

7 a.m. Wake up, quickly eat, dress for practice, walk to practice, get launch boats on dock, load launch boats, stretch, chalk talk, unstrap boats, grab boats, bear the burden when two girls drop off to grab oars, and finally we get the boat in the water, and can begin practice. Unlike most days here in Tampa, Florida we have been promised a beach day after the double practice in the morning. At the first part of practice we worked on the the last six inches of the slide and applying power once the blade was in the water. We did this with Russian drills.

After a very heavy boat was out of the water and doughnuts happily swam in many rowers tummy’s, we had time to stretch and learned that we would be doing two thirty minute pieces that went in pyramid formation. The first piece went by quickly since we rowed by six’s opposed to all eight. The girls and I were fairly tired after the first piece and we discovered the next piece would be by all eight. Rowing by all eight wasn’t too bad but it definitely was frustrating at times. All I know is that the technical training on the water that I’ve been learning and practicing on this trip will only help me in the spring season. This trip has privileged the rowers that were able to make the cut to become better rowers, and to work on the water opposed to solemnly working on the erg. Each stroke, heavy breath, finished water bottle, and drip of sweat today is preparing us as a team, to win metals for the Spring. From the hard work we have been putting in this week I am preparing to win metals.

Later the team and I went to Clearwater Beach which was incredibly sandy and windy. The water was much warmer than I expected and I’m glad that I got to go swimming. After a failed attempt to soak up some sun I decided to get ice cream and go shopping which was nice since the shops by the beach blocked the wind and, ice cream is always good. It was a pleasant day at the beach and now as I write this blog the team is packed in a few vehicles. We sing songs and enjoy each others company as we go back to the hotel to clean up for the generous dinner provided by The Homeister’s. The day has not ended but it was a very successful and productive day for the rowing team.

Athlete: Luke Saye ’19

Hometown: Battle Creek, MI

Major: Marketing

My day began early and chilly, but I was prepared. Yesterday was even colder (with rain), so I knew a long sleeve shirt and jacket would be needed for today. After a quick chalk-talk from Coach B, with Coach Costas demonstrating on the erg, we got on the water. I was in the “Anderson” with Drew (stroke), Jake (3), Ben (bow), and Sam (coxswain). For the first time, we got to row out on the bay. We found a location with little wake, just past Derek Jeter’s monstrous house, which, in person, does not look as good as the images on Google. After numerous sets of bob drills at the catch and finish, and the Russian drill, we rowed back into the city and headed for the docks. Once we got the boat and oars put away, I was delighted to see that Coach B brought the entire team Dunkin’ Donuts. They were amazing. Once we were rested, we headed back out in the “Animal”. We did two 30-minute pieces on the channel, with varying stroke rates ranging from 16 to 28, which was tough. We got back to the docks after our second piece, got everything washed and strapped down, and then headed for lunch at the pool.

After lunch, we packed up and headed to Clearwater Beach. The sun was out, and that’s about it. It was super windy and the water was brisk, but that didn’t stop me from getting a tan, and a bit of a sunburn. Somehow, I managed to fall asleep on the beach, so only the left side of my face is burnt. We packed up our things and headed back to the course to do weights, but en route we received the message that we didn’t have to do them! I got back to the hotel, relaxed for a bit and then got ready for dinner. The Homeister parents prepared an amazing dinner for the entire team and coaches. My first Florida Training trip is going great so far!

Sunday, January 3rd

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

Athlete: Dominic Fisher ’17

Hometown: Ada, MI

Major: Chemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology

This morning started out like any other this week. My teammates and I awoke to the sound of phone alarms at six and then enjoyed watching George Lopez while eating our breakfast. After we proceeded over toward the course for our morning chalk talk with Coach B and our guest coach Joe Haney. After being given our lineups for the first practice we rowed out onto the water in our assigned pairs for some recovery sequence drills.

The first practice this morning consisted mainly of technical work with some steady state thrown in to round out the practice. Coach gifted us this morning with a nice thirty minute rest in between practices. Before heading back out for practice number two, Coach also surprised us with a wonderful treat known as tomato pie from a local Sicilian deli. The second practice consisted of thirty minutes of drills focused on correcting the posture of our stroke and we rounded off our day of rowing with a fun bout of leapfrog and some small sprint pieces back to the dock.

As if this day could not get any better coach reminded us that we have the afternoon off to relax and recovery from the hard days of practice prior. I personally am looking forward to seeing a movie in theaters and going out to Urban Cantina with some of the varsity men to have a nice dinner. Day six in Florida is turning out to be a great day.

Athlete: Faith Platz ’18

Hometown: Grand Haven, MI

Major: Statistics and Economics

Today’s weather was a big change from the hot, humid, sunny skies we have started to get used to down in Tampa. While still much better than Michigan’s snow, it was chilly and rainy for our morning row. However, during Coach B’s daily “chalk talk,” he introduced us to guest coach Joe Haney, who has had lots of success as a fire chief and rowing coach. After he shared some words of wisdom with the team, we launched and went out for our technical morning row. We then took a brief break on land to refuel with Sicilian pizza generously provided by Coach Haney, and headed back out on the water to get some more mileage in before the rain picked up any more.

We then had the afternoon off due to the weather, which allowed us to explore the area a little. Some of the women decided on the perfect rainy day activity, and headed out to a local mall for some shopping and saw a movie before heading to dinner.

As the days go by in Tampa, the team and I are very grateful to be able to row on this beautiful water everyday, and are even more grateful that today will probably be the coldest it will get on this trip and we could still manage to be outside without a jacket. Returning home to icy Allendale will definitely be a shock to our system after this week.

Athlete: Jake McLane ’19

Hometown: Harbor Springs, MI

Major: Secondary Education

Today the rowers of room 1118 and 1116 awoke to the sounds of Sir Donnie Jensen and his gorgeous voice telling the Super Room that it was time wake up. During our morning chalk talk Coach Bancheri introduced Joe Haney, a retired fire chief and former rower who coaches his own rowing club. It is not uncommon for us to have a double morning practice and today was one of those days. However, it being Sunday, we were given the afternoon off! After finishing up our second outing on the water working on drills, technique, and timing we came back into shore and washed off our boats. We finished the morning by stretching out and breaking down as a team with our usual “GV” cheer and we headed back to the Barrymore hotel just across the river.

Having the afternoon off is one of the coolest things ever because it gives the team a chance to explore the beautiful city of Tampa. Aside from walking around town we can also swim at the pool or nap in our rooms and catch up on some much needed, glorious, and rejuvenating sleep.

Depending on the weather I may decide to take a single out and get some pointers from our Men’s Novice Coach, Costas Ciungan. That will all depend on the weather seeing as how it is cooling down for today in the high 60’s with a small chance of rain.

Saturday, January 2nd

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

Athlete: Brandon Roberts ’18

Hometown: Dearborn Heights, MI

Major: Information Systems

I awoke this morning at the crack of 7:15 in the morning to see a misty Tampa, FL. Despite the slight wind and the fact that we were in pairs, I was not discouraged. I was to row the Nancy Lubbers with Zack Peters and it was one heck of a row, if I do say so myself. While the novice men/women learned about how much 3x3k at 28 strokes per minute hurts one’s body, I learned a lot today about rowing in circles and getting that extra inch at the catch. After a couple hours, we brought in the pairs and took out some fours to go for a steady state row upstream for a while until we proceeded to turn around and take those in too. We all had some sandwiches for lunch at the pool; thanks to Coach Michelle for putting those out. After lunch, some of us went to take a nap, while others went to go explore the city before afternoon practice.

The novice men/women met at 3:00 to go for a technical/swing row, while the varsity met at the Steward’s Foundation boathouse to do our 3x3k. As much as it hurt at the time, I’d like to thank the guys on the men’s team for pushing each other during the pieces, so much so to the point where everybody had beaten their previous personal records. Coach B was elated, to say the least. The top 8 weighted guys got to take out a (basically) brand new Vespoli VHP 55, while the rest of the guys took out a four for a short cool-down row. After practice, mostly everyone was hungry so we all formed little groups and set out upon the town to go eat whatever we could find. Being athletes as we are, it seems as though when Tampa’s night life begins, we all retire to our hotel rooms to get some much needed sleep before practice tomorrow.

Athlete: Sam Doletzky ’19

Hometown: Rockford, MI

Major: Secondary Education

Today we started practice a little later than usual, 9am, because of the New Year. When we got to practice we gathered around the erg for a ‘Chalk Talk’. Coach B talked about ’41’ and compression. It was interesting to hear what he was saying regarding the concepts, we’ve been focusing a lot on the catch the last few days. Coach put one of the varsity men onto the erg with the erg arm, and he then showed us all the concepts and explained them in detail. The ’41’ was talking about the last 5 inches of the slide, with the first 4 of those inches being raising your hands into to the catch, and the last 1 inch, the placement of the blade into the water. Then relating the ’41’ back to the compression, and the rotation around the pin. Being able to take what Coach is showing us on the erg arm and relating it back to the rowers while they’re in a boat is pretty neat. Once we got onto the water, we did a steady state, intermittent with quite a few drills. With more work around timing, the catch, and catch placement.

Today was interesting because ABC came to videotape the practice and Coach B for a news story, I’m pretty excited to see what they air this up coming week. Once was interesting because ABC came to videotape the practice and Coach B for a news story, I’m pretty excited to see what they air this up coming week. Once practice was over, we went to the beach for some time to hang out and chill. Overall, it was a pretty great day, and I’m looking forward to the days to come.

Athlete: Ellie Peebles

Hometown: Eastbourne, UK

Major: Exercise Science 

Day 4: Training started at 8am this morning. The weather was a comfortable temperature to row in which was a pleasant change. The varsity men and women’s first session of the day involved fours and pairs. A technical row which pretty much involved us rowing in circles for 90mins, however it allowed each of us to manage our own blade.

Starting to get hungry, we headed back in for a quick snack before heading back out for a 40 minute row in larger boats.

After lunch and a needed nap the afternoon practice was a 3x3000m on the erg, Which turned out to be a great practice for the whole team- majority beating there current PR’s. I personally had a PR which I am so pleased with and wouldn’t have been possible without the support from the guys on our last 3000m.

After the erg we had the opportunity to row in a brand new Vespoli 8x boat. It was a stunning boat to row and an enjoyable way to end the days training.

As the whole team performed so well today, coach rewarded us with the afternoon off tomorrow- bring on the rest.






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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