Archive for June, 2016

Thursday, June 30th

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Athlete: Christopher Doherty
Year & Major: Junior, Exercise Science
Hometown: Traverse City, MI
High School: Traverse City West Senior High
I chose Grand Valley because: The exercise science program is excellent, the campus is beautiful, and I am not that far away from home.

Today was full of excitement for the Laker Navy! This morning was the most relaxing so far: we woke up to send the four off to the course, then I went back to bed and slept in to awake to a sunny day a while later. Taking it at my own pace, I ate breakfast, got dressed up for the regatta with my crew and we went on our way.

The train to Henley was packed. We literally squeezed into the train; when I began to board the woman next to me said “thankfully you’re not fat,” and off we went. When we arrived and made it out of the maze of people at the station, we followed the stream of people to the already busy course. We sent the four off the dock with cheers and applause, wishing the best of luck in their impending race. Thankfully they did not need it.

We made our way down to the viewing area with 2016 ACRA Assistant Coach of the Year Michelle Goodwin to watch the four race. It seemed like an eternity, but finally we herd the announcement that they had began racing. Facing Durham, the tension built as they approached. The announcer slowly updated their progress… “Grand Valley even… one foot ahead… quarter of a length… half a length…” When they finally reached us, about two thirds down the course, they were almost through the rival boat.

Trying to give them an extra boost we started the traditional GV-SU chant on the shore, easily drowning out the Durham fans in front of us (we got some dirty looks). Excitedly we waited for the results. We held our breath and her that the four had won!

We hurried back to the boat tent to congratulate our teammates on their successful race. After some congratulatory handshakes and smiles, we went back to enjoy the rest of the regatta.

Scott and I went to the enclosure and sat down to enjoy some racing. Highlights of the day included Olympic 1x champion and world record holder Mahe Drysdale, Harvard and Cal’s eights, and some Leander crews. After a long day at the course, we headed back to the Henley House.

We are now settling down for the night after a bunch of pizzas that Coach had bought for us. The night has been full of videos and photos, kindly provided by friends of the team Richard and Dot Owen, who also are housing the famous Don and Nancy Lubbers. The Lubbers will be visiting us tonight, it will be nice to be able to put faces to the names I have seen on our boats and meet them in person.

This journey has been a busy and fulfilling one, today was no different. Tomorrow our four is racing at 9:35 AM our time, or for those who will are early birds, 4:35 AM EDT. I am excited for them, so I can only imagine what they are feeling. The feeling around here is a relaxed readiness, I just hope the rest of Henley is ready for us tomorrow.

Athlete: Rob Hiner
Year & Major: Junior, Engineering
Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI
High School: Pioneer High School
Favorite Quote: “Just Go”

Today was another successful day for the Laker Navy in Henley. My boat and I woke up and ate a large breakfast in preparation for our race. We then headed to the course and sat in anticipation for our launch time.

Our match up was against Durham, a reputable English crew. The race was a close one that came down to the end. We were able to pull out the win by one boat length. There was a stiff head wind all the way down the course and it was my crews ability to stay long that won us the race. Durham put up a good fight and tried to move on us at several key points during the race but we were able to successfully counter all of their moves and get our bite across the line first.

Our win today matches us up against another fast crew, Edinburgh, tomorrow. The rest of the day was spent laying low, resting, and restoring energy for tomorrow’s race. We soaked in the pool for a while this afternoon to help restore our legs for tomorrow and we ate an enormous pizza dinner. Everything is in order to continue our success. I’m excited for tomorrow’s race, it should be another close one.

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Athlete: Austin Gentry
Year & Major: Senior, Philosophy
Hometown: Corona, CA
High School: Santiago High School
After I graduate I plan to: take a road trip through the northern states.

Today I went into Henley and had breakfast with my dad before heading to the Regatta. For a Mexican restaurant in England, I can say that it was sufficiently authentic and provided great sustenance for the first meal of the day. It was a cold, windy, and rainy day, which made being at the regatta without an umbrella and poncho less desirable. Given the less than ideal weather, I left early to head back to our house for a short nap and to ensure that I had warm clothes for our subsequent row after the last race of the day.

I got to the house to find Coach Bancheri preparing dinner for our return, which was great, and he gave me a quick taste before I headed upstairs to relax. After a quick nap, Coach Michelle and I boarded the train to Henley and met up with rest of the 4+ who were patiently waiting for 7:30 pm to roll around so we could launch.

We got hands on our boat, headed to the dock, and launched immediately. We shoved off in some pretty intense wind, which was directly passing downstream. We decided at that point that it was necessary for us to clam up (to reduce the gearing of our oars) because of how stiff the wind would be on our spin upstream. We threw down some solid steady-state strokes and are completely dialed in for our race tomorrow. The men and Karissa are incredibly excited to race tomorrow and to prove that we are a stiff contender for the Prince Albert Cup.

Tuesday, June 28th

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Athlete: Rob Hiner
Year & Major: Junior, Engineering
Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI
High School: Pioneer High School
I chose Grand Valley because: of its impressive engineering program and it’s beautiful campus. The fact that GVSU has a rowing team also factored into my decision.

Hello Laker Navy fans, followers, and alums! I’m very pleased to report to you from England. Today the team started the day out right with a pancake breakfast prepared by our very own Karissa Cloud and Donnie Jensen. After fueling up on flapjacks we caught the train to Henley for one of our last practices. Once we arrived at the boat tent it was exciting to see that all of our four oars and boat had been branded by official royal Henley regatta stickers.

Once on the water we rowed next to our eight for a few practice starts and sprints. It was nice today because there were stake boat holders out to help with practice. This allowed us to back into the starting blocks and really get a feel for how the start will go on race day. I was very pleased with the practice starts and sprints. The boat is moving faster than it ever has before, it’s ready to race.

After practice I walked into town with some teammates and enjoyed a delicious steak lunch. We then returned on the train to the house where we are staying. I spent the majority of the rest of my day off of my feet, relaxing, reading, and listening to music. The day was topped off with another scrumptious John Bancheri meal. We had Italian sausage sandwiches that we cooked to perfection and will provide the perfect fuel to win some races. For dessert coach Costas whipped up some home made pies for us to all enjoy.

I’m very greatful to be here in England representing my school at such a prestigious event. I’m proud of my team and how far we’ve come. I know that every man (and woman) in my boat is eager to put it all on the line to see how we stack up on the international stage. We are very fortunate to be here and I know that this trip would not of been possible had it not been for the generous help of family, friends, and alumni. I know that every stoke I take on the Thames is thanks to them.

Now I anticipate the excitement of my race on Thursday. I cannot wait to line up next to Durham and race down the course. Thanks to all who made this possible!

Athlete: Simon Klida
Year & Major: Sophmore, Athletic Training
Hometown: Auburn, MI
High School: Bay City Western High School
Favorite Quote: “The higher the carry the truer the strike.” Steve Fairbairn

Hello Laker Navy followers, I am so happy to be blogging to you from here in England. Today started off like most of my days here, waking up to Donnie telling me I am sleeping too long and need to get up. I had a nice breakfast at the Henley house and then it was off to the course for our last practice in the eight. Unfortunately our wonderful 2016 Women’s Assistant coach of the year Michelle Goodwin had the wrong train time and a couple of the guys, and myself, missed the train. It was not a huge problem we just waited a half hour till the next one and the day continued on.

We shadowed the four on the course for three laps. It was a busy day at the course today, but we were able to make the most of it by having some fun while waiting to get to the starting line. We did our pieces and went fast, we got off the water and derigged our boat.

A couple of guys and myself went to lunch at a local bar and I was somehow lucky enough to get a free lunch. From there we headed back to the Henley house on the train. Once home I enjoyed some competitive games of Ping-Pong with Dom and Jack. Also I helped coach John Bancheri prepare a wonderful dinner. Coach Costas surprised us with a yogurt pie for dessert, which was also wonderful.

As I sit here reflecting and the day is winding down I still have a hard time believing that I am here in Henley. I cannot say how blessed and thankful I am to have this opportunity and thank you to all who have donated.

Monday, June 27th

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Athlete: Elliot Reith
Year & Major: Freshmen, Communications
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI
High School: East Grand Rapids
After I graduate I plan to: get involved in the music industry

What a day it was for the Laker Navy. Waking up early to a beautiful day here in Shiplake was what started the grand adventure. Fueling the day with a great breakfast provided to us by Tom and Debs, our gracious hosts, and we prepared for another hard day of rowing. For the four, it was another standard practice, but for the eight, today meant something more. Today was the day that we were going to do another time trial to prove to ourselves that we were faster than the record showed we were. We felt cheated by the weather, and so we wanted to prove a point to those who doubted us. Todays race was not only to prove a point, but it was a way for us to regain our honor.

We traveled by train to Henley and arrived early to the racecourse. After a stretch session and a motivating speech from Coach B, we were off. The eight took a quick technical lap of the course, ready to go like stallions in the starting gates. The four cheered us on with whoops and hollers from across the water as we approached the starting blocks, practically vibrating with anticipation. “Grand Valley… We have alignment… Attention… GO!”. We were off. We started like a bullet, but soon, fatigue found us. The past few days had taken a toll on us, but we powered through. We all pulled for different things. I pulled for my own honor, to prove others wrong, and for Scott Thorbjornson, the senior who sits in two seat behind me. I knew he deserved an excellent final race, and so I tried my hardest to give it to him. After ripping through the water, feeling the pain in our teeth and muscles and very soul, we finished our piece faster than our time trial time. We had done it. We landed, showered, and headed home for lunch and a well deserved nap.

After a restful mid-afternoon, we dressed up to go out to the Henley reception; a few of us stopping by the local pub to catch the Wimbledon results beforehand. Once at the reception, held at the Henley River and Rowing Museum (a great spot for those who appreciate rowing), we took a few photos, ate a few snacks, and enjoyed the sights of the museum. I loved delving deep into the history of our sport and was amazed to learn about the origins of it. I also enjoyed some social time with my team. I talked with many of the rowers extensively, as well as the 2016 ACRA Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year, Michelle Goodwin. It has been a pleasure to get closer to all of them over training and this trip. One of the officials from the Henley Royal Regatta gave an amazing speech about the experience of it all, and I was more ready than ever to experience the whole pageant.

Once all of our duties at the reception were taken care of, we headed to The Catherine Wheel for some food and shenanigans. Many a laugh was had there, and on the train ride and walk back to the house, making me realize how grateful I truly am to be on a team like this. These men and women are what truly make this sport worth all the work and pain we experience every day. We headed home after dinner and wound down for the night.

I know we are all truly grateful for the opportunity to be here, and so we would like to thank all of you for your support and the donations that made all of this possible. We all hope to continue to make you proud and bring exciting tales from across the pond back to you through these blogs. Cheers.

Athlete: Jacob McLain
Year & Major: Freshman, Communications and Spanish.
Hometown: Harbor Springs, MI
High School: Harbor Springs High School
Best thing about Grand Rapids is: the river. A close second is the people. Everyone in Grand Rapids is surprisingly friendly for a larger city and conscious of those around them.

Good evening, Lakers and Laker Alum. Friends and family of all our rowers. Today in the lovely town of Henley our Grand Valley Rowers shared the River Thames once again with many favorable boat clubs and schools. To start our day off right we indulged in a most generous breakfast from our hosts, Tom and Debbie. After boarding the rail-line from Shiplake we headed into Henley to prepare our boat for one last race down the course before returning it. It was a very noteworthy trial indeed: a gorgeous start, even rate and spectacular length from the oarsmen. But would we expect any less from the fine young men of Grand Valley.

Once off the river we were greeted by our well respected coach Costas Ciungan to assist us in the portage of our eight towards a referred placement of our boat so that we may use it once more in the morning. Hudson, the shell company, was generous as to allow us to use their trailer overnight for storage.

Once leaving the course we were free to do with the day as we pleased. The majority of our crew headed back to Shiplake for a much needed nap and sandwich, myself included. While at rest we played a few rounds of table tennis and unwound in the reading-room.

Not too soon after my nap I was awoken by the news to be dressed in our colors for the international team welcoming ceremony. It took place at the Henley rowing museum just a short walk from town square. After touring a few of the exhibits we were entertained by a speech from one of the local stewards of Henley. At the banquet there were many crews from outside the country. In all there are a total of 27 different countries participating in the Henley Royal Regatta this year, five more than last year. 2016 has been a very busy year for England and a record breaking year for the Royal Henley. Our crews were even graced by the presence of Sir. Steven Redgrave, winner of five Olympic gold medals. After finished with the ceremony the Grand Valley men enjoyed a fulfilling dinner at the Catherine Wheel in the gorgeous town of Henley.

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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