Archive for March, 2016

Spring Training Wrap Up

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

Scott Thorbjornsen, ‘16
Hometown: Bangor, MI
Major: Speech Pathology

The Laker Navy once again opened the spring season with week long trip over spring break. This year’s venue was Oak Ridge TN, where miles of river were waiting to be rowed. The trip started with a long Darth Vader row that got our blood flowing and muscles ready for the long week ahead of us. After a few days of listening to coaches chalk talks and working on the technical aspects of the sport we began seat racing to test our meddle.

Waking up every morning would have been much harder if not for the great weather we had all week. The average temperature was around 67 degrees. Hopefully we all come back looking like bronze statues.

The week also included a Star Trek row where the Laker Navy went where no other crew had gone before. The distance we went made us all dig deep to finish the row and not give up. Our efforts were rewarded with an afternoon in Gatlinburg where we enjoyed the views the Appalachians can give.

To finish the week we held our own regatta on the race course at Oak Ridge. Each crew did five 1500 meter races to Guage where they are before heading into racing season. Each crew has room to improve and will work towards the expectations they have for themselves over these next few weeks before w ego to our first race in Washington DC.

This trip was a very tough one but we came out for the better. Thank you for all of your support. Pull for the Laker Navy!

Saturday, March 12th

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

Christina Pavano, ‘16
Hometown: Rockford, MI
Major: Psychology

And that’s a wrap! Today was the last day of our spring training trip and now we are all stuffed in 15 passenger vans filled with pillows, blankets and lots and lots of luggage on our way home.

This morning started off with everyone being able to sleep in and have a nice breakfast at the hotel before we headed to the course at 10am. Once we got to the course, there was a lot happening around. There was a Womens NCAA regatta being held at the venue we’ve been practicing at all week. So before we got on the water, we prepped the trailer as much as we could and even talked to a few familiar faces. For or final practice of spring break, we were all excited to put all our hard work over the week to the test and race against each other. We did 5×1500 meter pieces. The pieces went great and it was a fun way to end break with a bang.

As I sit in this van somewhere in Kentucky, I keep thinking back to what a great week it’s been. As a team, we all have put in lots of mileage, pushed ourselves to the limits and have all improved a great amount. This training trip is just a starting point for The Laker Navy. There’s still lots of speed to gain with time. And I cannot be more excited to see what this spring season will bring!

Julia Glenn, ‘19
Hometown: Grosse Pointe, MI
Major: Education

Today, our last day in Tennessee, we woke around 8 began to pack our things then met down in the breakfast room around 9:15 to receive our betting shirts. We all piled into the vans all wearing our betting shirts getting pumped for our last practice on the beautiful course. We arrived to the course around 10:30, on the water at 12:00. Our practice was a 5 x 1500, at a 32 stroke rate. The first two were the strongest and most controlled, the remaining were not at our high standards which could be a result of our aching bodies and the long week, nevertheless we should have been able to continue our streak of control and intensity. During the practice some switches were made and one of the switches included putting Coach Michelle into 5 seat for the last 1500 of the practice. It was fun for a coach to be put into our position and feel the boat from our perspective.

Once we got off the water we brought the boats in, and began to derig the boats and load them onto the trailer. We went into the tent and ate lunch, and changed into some clean clothes. Once the trailer was loaded and we were ready to hit the road we gathered in front of the trailer for a group picture. Afterwards, Coach B did a quick recap of this past week we spent in Tennessee, and what will come in the next week. To properly commence this training camp we broke it down as a whole team for a final time in Tennessee, shouting GV.

Chad Wasco, ‘19
Hometown: Midland, MI
Major: Engineering

This morning I woke up with some much needed extra sleep; we got to sleep in until 8 today! Being it is the last day of spring training our schedule is a little different for the day. We all went down and ate breakfast and then we were distributed our “betting shirts.” These are the shirts that we have to give to the other teams if they beat us in a race. But I have hopes that with this crew that won’t happen often, so I plan on getting a lot of other team’s shirts. After practice we packed our bags and headed in the vans to the race course. The drive there is about 20 minutes so plenty of time to get some rocking tunes going. Once at the course we began to derig and put the smaller boats back on the trailer. These were the boats that we no longer needed for the remainder of our time in Tennessee. So we just used the extra time we had to get ready for the trip back home. Today is weird because there is the Cardinal Invite regatta going on and so we can’t use the course at certain times due to the races happening.

Finally, it is our time to go do some work. After a short talk with the coaches we get our boats and head to the water. I was in 5 seat of 8 in the Alexandra. Our lineup is built for speed; it is at this point what our top novice boat will be. This boat sits low and is smooth, it is a Vespoli racing shell that is slick looking with its navy blue color and its graceful glide through the water. Luke and I are in charge of oars, because we are so tall when carrying the boat all of the weight is on our shoulders so we try to balance it out with the other men.

We get out onto the water and immediately start our warmup drill. This consists of different types of strokes not normally done, just to warm up different muscle groups. Things like rowing without bending arms or only going up the slide with our seats halfway. Once that’s done it was time for our pieces to start. We rowed five 1500 meter races and the boat I was in raced against our own varsity top boat. I will say this, while my boat thinks it’s fast it is not varsity material yet. Those men are animals and the shear force that they put into that blade is incredible. They beat us every race but we sure put up a fight for them. It was cool but very tiring to do this. It may be only four or so minutes of a race each time but it’s the longest 4 minutes of your life it feels like. When rowing I wear a heart rate monitor strap around my chest and during these pieces my heart rate is around 180-190 bpm so it’s a very hard workout for sure. Along with the heart rate my phone is strapped to a rigger and is recording our speed and distance and time traveled. For 14 workouts during spring break we logged 235.94 km (146.6 miles) and over 30 hours in the boat.

Coach Costas always tells us “Miles makes champions” and I am a believer in that, the difference at the end of the week is incomparable to the beginning. I am very proud of everything that everyone accomplished this week and I am looking forward to a great season with my Laker family.

Friday, March 12th

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

Logan Conner, ‘18
Hometown: Rockford, MI
Major: Pre-med

Yesterday was a very good day for the grand Valley Rowing team. The day started out with a great chalk talk from Coach B. After that we went out for some skill and drill. I was in the launch with Coach B. as my men were in pairs and the women were in fours. We went downstream working on the catch and striking from the balance. The morning practice was a long steady state with drills mixed in and a couple 2-3 min pieces worked in.

After practice I sat down and worked on some long put off homework. In the evening the men went out in our 8 for some one on one with coach. It was a very productive practice as we worked over our pre-race fartlick and everything went smoothly.

After coming back and having a nice team pizza dinner, I know some people had a nice euchre tournament but I just wanted to relax and so I didn’t play. I do know the day also ended in a funny way as two of our teammates ended up stuck in an elevator for about a half hour. No worries they made it out ok! All in all it was a great day.

Ben Hamp, ‘19
Hometown: Caledonia, MI
Major: Education/Group Social Studies

Today we started out with breakfast that has been graciously offered by the hotel throughout this week. We were able to sleep in a little later than usual, and headed to Oak Ridge for practice. Once we got to Oak Ridge the rowers began their stretches and the coxswains met with their coaches to find out the plan for practice. We had a short chalk talk about early squaring and how each individual is needed to help balance the boat. After that we set off into our boats for practice, and we were out on the water for about an hour and a half. Things went well on the water and the guys are showing a lot of improvement this week, and it is so exciting to see! After practice we came in, got our boats strapped down and ate lunch at the course. After eating lunch we de-rigged the pairs and a couple of the fours and put them on the trailer so they would be ready to head back to Allendale.

We then left Oak Ridge to head back to the hotel to rest, review video, and just hang out with the team. We had an extended afternoon break today and didn’t have to leave for Oak Ridge until 4.

For the afternoon practice we had another short chalk talk and a change in the lineups. The novice men rowed in their racing lineups for the short hour practice, getting ready for our 4×1500 pieces that would come the following day. This practice went very well, we did multiple 45 second sprint pieces as well as quarter slide rev-ups, working on quickness of the blade. After we came in for practice we compacted the boats so that they were only on one side of our trailer and called it a day and headed back for the hotel for a pizza dinner. After the pizza dinner we had a small euchre tournament which was very nice and laid back. To end the night a number of us hung out around the fire outside the hotel and just socialized and talked about our days. Tomorrow we have our pieces and then we head back home to Grand Valley!

Grace Vander Weide, ‘17
Hometown: Battle Creek, MI
Major: Exercise Science

As a team we started this week going back to the basics of rowing. Saturday we had our traditional Vader row and we worked on posture. The rest of the week we followed posture with timing, control, balance and touch. We were able to take advantage of the venue and have on the water chalk talks with coach as well as using the erg arm.

As a team we saw a lot of growth and as we hit the racecourse this morning we are excited to see everything we have learned over the past week come together. We also got to know each other better off the water; we have come together as a team over board and card games, sitting out by the fire, working on homework and just chilling in our hotel rooms watch the tube.

Sometimes when I take a step back and look at the team I think about how close so many of us are and how without rowing I probably wouldn’t have ever met and of them. This week has been a great learning experience and I am excited to get back and continue to grow as a team!

Thursday, March 10th

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Coach Bancheri demonstrating “striking to and from the balance” during an early morning chalk-talk


Brandon Roberts, ‘18
Hometown: Dearborn Heights, MI
Major: Computer Science

This morning was a wake up like any other spring break morning. *Alarm* *Snooze* *Alarm* *roll out of bed* With a quick breakfast before practice, the van ride consisted of some jams to prep us for the row we were about to embark upon. After a short, yet informative chalk talk, we hit the water for some last minute technique fixes before the race. One “short” steady state row later and we were back on the dock for any athlete’s favorite time of day: Chow Time. Another van ride and we were back to the hotel for nap time.

3 hours later and we all put on our race duds to do yet another round of 5x1250m seat racing. This time around, we had some guests also join us on the race course in the form of the University of Rochester. The men went out in fours to race their fours, the women went out in eights to race their women’s eights, and the novice men went out in their eights to race their novice men. The dock was never a more welcome sight as we came around the turn and from the “thousand yard stares” on everyone’s faces, I could tell the team worked their butts off. Upon returning to the hotel, we all split off into our own groups and ate dinner. It is now night time and the hotel is quiet as the team winds down and prepares for what tomorrow has in store.

Amber Crotty, ‘17
Hometown: Fruitport, MI
Major: Pre-Physicians Assistant

After a well deserved and needed night in Gaitlinberg, the team woke up this morning well-rested and refreshed. The team devoured the complimentary breakfast provided at the hotel. Loading the vans quickly and efficiently the team headed to Oak Ridge for a bright and early row on the beautiful venue.

Before getting on the water, Coach B gave a very intriguing “chalk talk” about backing the blade into the water and timing sequence with the seat. The varsity men went out in fours while the varsity women went out in an eight, while the novices were divided into their racing boats for the afternoon. Going upstream the team worked on timing and ratio. Several pause drills were included, which consisted of feather/square drills.

After a productive row, the team loaded up into vans and drove back to the hotel for a few hours. Team bonding over homework and naps were shared. Some team members even went hammocking in the trees next to the hotel.

After our short break, the team loaded back into the vans and headed back to the course where we scrimmaged Rochester. I coxed the same men’s four as earlier in the day. The venue luckily provided us with a well-organized course for racing. A few switches were made amongst the boats on our team. All of the men are working towards earning their seat in the men’s varsity eight for the spring/summer season. After having a very eyeopening and positive scrimmage against Rochester, we said our goodbyes and went for a short technical row twelve minutes downstream.

The team worked hard today. It is exciting to see the speed and rhythm develop in the boats, and I expect a very successful season ahead.

Zack Peters, ‘17
Hometown: Royal Oak, MI
Major: Finance

My name is Zack Peters and I currently sit three seat in the men’s varsity eight. Yesterday the men’s varsity eight set a new Grand Valley distance record for a single practice. We rowed just over thirty miles and had a great time doing it. Today we continued our week with a easy technique practice in the morning and a more intense practice in the afternoon.

The University of Rochester joined us on the course for 1250m sprint races. I was in one of the three GV men’s fours. Some hard strokes were put in and every one will help us in the future. A big thanks to the men and women’s rowing team from Rochester, we both got faster today.

As the week comes to an end, I will have fond memories of the whole trip. A big thank you to the coaches and everyone who made this trip possible. The only way to get better at rowing is to row, and this experience is invaluable to us. All in all it has been a great week to be a Laker.

Drew Vielbig, ‘18
Hometown: Fowlerville, MI
Major: Marketing

Today, the weather was perfect. My room woke up around 7:45 and left the hotel at 8:15. We got to the course at around 8:30 and sat down to listen to one of coach B’s famous chalk talks, focusing on catch timing and posture. The most interesting part of the chalk talk was the fact that there was a boat placed in the water and rowers at each end holding it in place. Donnie was in the water and he demonstrated the strike to and from the balance.

Once the talk was over, we split off with the other novice men, to talk with Coach Costas. We got out on the water in new lineups and focused on drill work and timing for the morning practice. We did some newer drills and worked by 6’s and 8’s. We rowed for about an hour and a half and then came back in to grab a delicious and in all ways satisfying peanut butter and jelly lunch. Once we finished lunch, we went back to the hotel, to hangout for a few hours. Some people showered, and napped, while I opted to hammock.

In the afternoon, we arrived at the course around 2:45. Today’s practice was unique because we raced two boats from Rochester University. This went very well. Our F1 lineup had great timing and lots of power. I gotta say, it felt top notch. After completing five 1250m races, we were done with our evening practice. The novice men went out to Chuy’s for dinner for a little team bonding. All in all, was a successful day on the water.






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.

Copyright 2016-2017 Grand Valley State University Rowing Club. All Rights Reserved.