Archive for December, 2016

Day 4 – December 31st

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

New Year's Eve Rockin and Rowin Regatta

Amber Crotty
Hometown: Muskegon, MI
Major: Biomedical Science
Woke up bright and early at 6:30am to prepare breakfast for the women’s team. I made cheesy scrambled eggs, toast, bagels and one of the girls made orange juice. After a fulfilling breakfast, the coxswains made their way to the course about ten minutes before the rowers started their brisk jog. The morning had a slight chill to it, a measly 50 degrees, but the sun was shining and made the walk alongside Lake Minneola delightful. We came across some locals who were running, every Saturday at 7:00am they setup a free 5K run, which starts in the Clermont Historical Village and ends near the boathouse that we are using. After arriving at the boathouse we began to lead a team stretch. One of the locals introduced himself and gave us some free homemade bagels. We thanked him and introduced ourselves as the magnificent Grand Valley Rowing Team. He commented on my cornrows, which were done the night before by the beautiful/talented Jessie Hasaneu (she was trying to help me represent Muskegon on the last day of the year, SHOUT OUT!). After the coaches arrived we sat some ergs up for the women, while the men embarked on a journey to unknown/new territory in their pairs. While the women did technique related stuff on the erg, the coxswains had a small chat with Vinny, a national USA coxswain. Our little novice coxswain (the adorable Claire) asked Vinny about how to change up what/how we say things in the boat. He gave us a few examples, specifically focusing on the catch and timing into the catch. After the talk with Vinny he took off with Coach B to monitor the men in the pairs. The women were split up into fours, along with a mixed four. After a short warmup row starting with swing-pick and working our way up to full slide, the women worked on timing into the catch and applying pressure on the front of the blade. Using the circle drill method, which is simply having one side at a time row in a complete circle (hints at the clever name). The circle drill is a unique way to establish a rhythm and consistent flow on one side of the boat, rather then by pairs. After the technical portion of practice, the boats got together to row steady-state across Lake Minneola at a 4:1 to 3:1 ratio. The women really started to feel the difference into the catch and the implementation of technique on the power. Which is/was very exciting to hear and see. This group of girls have been working hard everyday, and of course have been frustrating. The clarity of physical confusion gives hope to a successful Spring Season for the Grand Valley Women’s Rowing Team, and I am very excited to be the coxswain that will be apart of it.

Rowing the Pair

Christopher Doherty, Captain and Vice-President
Hometown: Traverse City
Major: Clinical Exercise Science

Today was a day. It started off like any other, Zack, Rob and myself woke up early in the morning at the hotel a short distance from the boathouse. Another surprisingly cold morning, we quickly ate breakfast and headed for the lake.

We were greeted For the men, the early morning practice was held in pairs. It was nice to work on technique and form under the rising sun. As the the sunlight beat off the morning cold, a small cove harbored our small fleet. With Coach B. leading the drills, we worked our way through a progression starting at the top of the drive. The improvement from the beginning of the day to the end was noticeable: when we came in everyone had gained important knowledge about gaining inches at the catch. My pair partner, Brandon Roberts, and I won the “ten stroke race” and went the furthest out of our pairs. A small but notable victory.

After lunch and a feature presentation of Pokemon 2000, some naps were had and trips to the lake made.

In the afternoon we held out “New Years Regatta.” Our four coaches, Allison, Michelle, Spencer and Coastas all drafted athletes and boats to form our crews. The mixed eights went out and did a few low rate, high power pieces all out. While my crew did not win, we did have some great pieces and fought hard until the end. The last strokes of 2016 were tough, but I wouldn’t have finished the year any other way.

For the new year, we are taking a trip to the Orange Drop in nearby Orlando. We will send off a successful 2016, the final fall season of my rowing career, and welcome in 2017 as a team. The spring season will be both exciting and bittersweet as my last.

Its been a great winter training so far, the best of my four years here. Thanks for your support!

Rowing into the sunset

Maddy Moldenhauer
Hometown: Marysville, MI
This morning, the varsity women took advantage of the later am practice to cook up a nice breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs, toast, bagels and fruit. Then, we got prepped and ready to head to the boathouse for practice. When we left it was a chilly 40 degrees but it heated up fast during our run to the boathouse. In Clermont on Saturday mornings the event known as the Park Run is held as a free 5k open to the community. The race starts at the boathouse and course follows the boardwalk along Lake Minneola. There was a pretty huge turnout for the run. It was great to see so many active people in the community!

Once we all arrived at the boathouse, we had a group stretch and team meeting. The men launched in small boats while the women did some drills on the ergs to focus on posture and technique at the catch. The main focus was to approach the catch and start the drive with the legs while hanging on the handle engaging the lats. This would allow for the preparation for a powerful drive sequence during the stroke. After that we got on the water in fours for the morning practice. We towed along the shoreline doing the drills that we focused on while we were in the erg. We started with bobs at the catch and completing 6 inches of the drive, then progressed with drills until we were rowing full strokes. The weather was beautiful and the sun felt great while we rowed around the lake this morning. It was a longer, but very purposeful practice!

Once we all got off the water and put the boats away, we had another team stretch and broke it down before heading back to the house for lunch. We are very fortunate to be in the nice town of Clermont! As we made our way back I was approached by multiple people that were curious and asked about us rowing on Lake Minneola and where we were from. A lot of them were astonished by us wearing a tank top and shorts during the “chilly” mornings while they were layered with even hats and gloves. Even with the perceived coldness that came through it feels very mild and comfortable for our practices here in Florida.

We are also very fortunate this year with the food that has been provided to the rowing team during this trip. We arrived back at the house and were able to make sandwiches with what we have been provided and rag some of the leftovers from previous dinners. Some of us have also bought some groceries to make smoothies for a good post-workout drink. The townhouse has also allowed for the women to bond as a group while we’re eating or relaxing in the living room when compared to the separate hotel rooms that we are used to. After lunch some of the crew went out hammocking at a public park on the lake. The views are fantastic and we are able to relax in the shade under patches of trees near the shoreline. We relaxed for an hour or so and made our way back to the house before our afternoon practice. During our afternoon practice we had races in eights. The eights were drafted by each of the coaches, so there was a mix of men and women in the boats to make them even. It was a lot of fun racing! Each boat represented a different country (Antarctica, Greenland, Greece, and Poland) and we did 6 races rowing by 6s where we would switch a pair of rowers in and out every 2 minutes. For each piece, we were able to row hard strokes for 6 minutes and sit out, catch our breath, and cheer on our boat for the 2 minutes we sat out. It was different to feel the speed of the men with 6 men in our boat. These races were quite the adrenaline rush and definitely a great practice to end the year.

Some of us jog back to the houses to get the first shot at a shower, but after this practice we were all dead from the pieces so we walked back as a team. Then we got ready to drive to downtown Orlando for a New Years celebration for the night.

Day Three – December 30th

Friday, December 30th, 2016


Brandon Roberts
Hometown: Dearborn Heights, MI
Major: Information Systems and Philosophy
This morning started like every other morning, with the men cooking ourselves breakfast and running to the boathouse. We all left the house together to run as a squad and it was extremely cold and windy. The winds were so bad, that coach decided to keep the boats on land and bust out the ergs. He began our daily chalk talk with one of our captains, Chris Doherty, displaying to us the “ABC” drill on the erg. This drill was designed to show us how to get the most amount of meters out of each time the blade entered and exited the water. We finished up morning practice with some big team drills, a 1x3k for score, a boat christening (with special guest Matt LeBlanc), and a short run back to the house.

The house was pretty calm in between practices because a handful of team went to a coffee shop in town, while the rest of us hung out and watched TV/napped. Evening practice began with another run to the boathouse, and the men went out in straight/coxed fours while the women went out in an eight. I can not speak for everybody, but I really feel that this evening’s practice helped me out with improving upon my catch and really working on my send. We could not get back quick enough because dinner tonight was Chicken Nuggets, Fish Sticks, and Macaroni and Cheese, cooked for us by the captains. A handful of people went to the store, but now a group of us are hanging out and watching Star Wars: A New Hope.

The trip has hardly started and we have already packed so much work into it. I can not wait to see how it turns out!

Rowing into the sunset

Zoe Niswonger
Hometown: Ada, MI
Major: Education
Today the team began their day with the usual morning jog to the Clermont Boathouse. Anticipating high winds, we ended up doing some skill and drill on the ergs and a 3k test to put us in seats for tomorrows scrimmage. Skill and drill’s primary focus was on the catch of the stroke. Coach B makes a point of raising our hands into the catch and the immediate connection on the lats and keeping appropriate body preparation while doing so. After our break we did a 3k which determines tomorrows lineups for our scrimmage. We had the honor of christening the “Matt LeBlanc” Boat as well today, which was donated to us by the University of Michigan. The team then headed home and made lunch and meandered around the town of Clermont then made our way back to the boathouse. For practice number two we braved the wind and waves and found ourselves and sheltered spot on the lake to do some more catch work. Coach B emphasized the “Jackson 5” drill, referring to the “A, B,C” sequence at the top of the stroke. After practice the team headed back to the townhouse to rest up for the evening practice. The women had a great day out on the water and we’re all looking forward to getting some sleep tonight.

I’m really looking forward to getting some good strokes on the water this trip!

Using the legs

Chris Nelson
Hometown: Fort Wayne, IN
Major: Information Systems
The start of our third day in Florida did not begin terribly well. As soon as we left the house the wind assaulted us, and checks of the weather revealed that a Small Craft Advisory had been issued until 4pm.

The wind raced across the lake and whipped up 3 foot whitecaps, making going out in any rowing shell a losing proposition. Doing what the Laker Navy does best we adapted, running through a much needed team calisthenics and deep stretch. Working extra length into out hamstrings not only felt good, it makes sure we can get more length in each stroke.

Once we had stretched we ran through drills on the erg, today focusing on feeling the suspension at the catch. A strap was wrapped around the erg handle and led through the cage, with a partner hanging onto the end to make it easy to feel the suspension as you lifted yourself off the seat.

Continuing on the theme we did 1 minute drills at differing stroke rates and drags, starting at 22 strokes per minute (spm) and the drag set at ten, then stepping down to reach 30 spm at a drag of 4. The goal was to developed propulsion per stroke, which means covering the most distance with each pull of the handle. This was exhausting, even though they were only a minute long.

Once these were done and we had a short break, the team took shifts to do a 3k piece, for score. This 3k hurt pretty bad, but once this was done the morning section of practice was done, and we stored the ergs, stretched and meandered home.

The Small Craft Advisory pushed practice back to 4pm, giving us an extra hour in our midday break. During our morning practice the economic development liaison came and spoke to us, welcoming the team to Clermont and telling us about a local smoothie shop, and I took the break to wander there. The smoothie was good, and with my nose in my book the break passed quickly.

At four the wind was blowing its last, and by the time my four warmed up and did drills to the other side of the lake it had died completely. The water smoothed to near glass, and doing drills until the sky going pink was glorious. Rowing back to the dock was wonderful, the boat slicing through the smooth water easily.

It was a good day.

Day Two – December 29th

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Sunset on the Laker Navy

Rob Hiner, Men’s Team Captain
Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Today started out with a beautiful sunrise over the lake before our first morning practice that put the whole team in a good mood. I had the chance to row the single for the first practice of the day. It was fun to row alongside my friend Donnie Jensen. It felt great to shake off the rust and get in some good mileage as we rowed a couple laps of the lake. The second morning practice was spent doing drills in pairs. I was once again paired with Donnie and we had an extremely productive session working on the recovery sequence. I am excited to see the whole team improving after only several practices. I can feel myself getting faster and I’m eager to see what the team can accomplish by the end of the trip.

After morning practice the team returned to the townhouse and made some lunch. We flipped on the tv and watched a Star Trek marathon while we rested. I fully enjoyed the down time with my teammates where we could catch up with each other and share how we spent our holidays. I’m happy to see all of my teammates again and I’m glad that everyone enjoyed their time off but I’m most of all happy to be back training alongside them again. I am truly lucky to have such great teammates.

Once we got our fix of Spock and Captain Kirk, we returned to the Clermont boathouse and prepared for our final practice of the day. The wind had picked up and it drizzled on and off but we were all still eager to get in the water. We launched in two eights and worked on the drive sequence. After completing the prescribed drills we ended the practice with some fun 2 v 2 races. These races are fun because there are 7 people to cheer on the two people in the boat racing. They often get quite intense. After a long day I am ready to get to bed early an do it again tomorrow. I am excited to see what the rest of our training trip holds in store for us.


Karissa Cloud
Hometown: Ada, MI
Major: Speech Language Pathology
After getting some much needed sleep, I woke up at 6:30 energized and ready to go. With a quick breakfast and packing up for practice I could not wait for the second day to start. I walked this morning with the other coxswains and carried some snacks for the rowers to eat between practices. We got to the boathouse and in the east on the tree line was a beautiful sunrise. Pictures truly do not serve it any justice and I’m so thankful to be in Florida and get some much needed sun.

Once the coaches arrived we set up for a quick chalk talk. Coach B resurfaced a few topics we practiced yesterday and used the “whole-part-whole” method of teaching. Yesterday was an overview of the stroke and today we began to break it down and isolate important details. With focus on the stretch and hang of the lats and back muscles, we rowed many strokes on the swing pick (just back and arms). Quickly building on top of the swing pick and lengthening to full slide, emphasis was kept on the swing and shoulder movement. Being in a men’s eight made our lap around the lake quick. The boys are like my brothers, and we haven’t gone a day without laughing and having a good time.

While the team was stretching and grabbing a few snacks, the coxswains got the new boat assignments. Varsity men went out in small boats and because they did not need me to cox, I was with the women. The wind was beginning to pick up which added some chop to the lake, but I knew the ladies could handle it. In fours, the women worked on similar drills I had done earlier with the men. With an hour in, it was time to return to the boathouse. Our walk back to the team townhouse is about a mile and we made some lunch in the kitchen. A few groups went to go hammock and some girls and I stayed back in the A/C to watch a movie.

As we were walking to our second practice the wind was picking up and throwing a few strong gusts. With another quick chalk talk over it was time for our afternoon row. I was back with the men and we did a few battle paddles. Everyone was cheering each other on and the inner squad competition was exciting. Although we had only a few minutes of hard strokes, it makes me very excited to get back on the course and race. Our long day was wrapped up with lasagna the coaches bought and put in the ovens for us. With day two down I am excited to see the improvements we will make through the rest of this trip. Spring racing can not come soon enough.

Varsity Women

Jessie Hasenau
Hometown: Livonia MI
Major: Clinical Exercise Science
My day began bright and early with a 6:30am wake up call and the women’s team scrambling for a bagel before our morning run to practice. It was another gorgeous sunrise and already 64 degrees. Once we got there, coach announced we would be rowing pairs for the first half of practice, which made some of us nervous because of our lack of practice in small boats. So practice was all the more beneficial, removing us from our comfort zones and making us either better technical rowers or flip. None of us flipped so you can say we all got a little better this morning.

A quick docking, snack, and stretch then back out in the fours. Right away you could see our catches become more crisp. Focusing on one of the hardest drills next, the equilibrium drills, our patience was tested. It challenged abilities until we worked together to set the boat.

After lunch some of us went hammocking until afternoon practice that began with a chalk talk from Coach B. The emphasis was on not breaking the arms; more commonly called suspension or hanging on the oar. He had us pair up with a partner, sit toe-to-toe, hang on to the each other’s wrists, and pull them up. This simulated hanging on the oar and demonstrated if you break your arms your parter would never get off the ground. Then we launched in the eights for a technical practice.

Lesson of the day: never give rowers a frozen lasagna to cook for dinner after practice. Some will try to eat while still half frozen.

Day One – December 28th

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016


Zack Peters
Hometown: Royal Oak, MI
Major: Finance and Marketing

This morning I arrived in Clermont Florida at 6 am. I was a part of the group that rode the vans down from Grand Valley. After a quick nap, we prepared breakfast from ingredients provided by the team. The townhouse that the team is living in is equipped with a full kitchen, so making breakfast was quick and easy.

After breakfast the men’s team set out on a mile run to the Clermont boathouse. It is a beautiful venue and the weather is much better than the ice and snow of Michigan. Our morning practice started with a long chalk talk focusing on the relaxation and timing of the recovery. We then rowed around the entire lake in eights and got acclimated to the humidity. This row really helped brush the dust off of our rowing technique.

We then enjoyed lunch at the townhouse before returning to the boathouse for an evening technical practice in pairs. We spent a lot of time doing circle drills and stationary drills. After practice we cleaned all of our boats, so the salt from the trip does not corrode the hardware. We finished the day with a pizza dinner provided for us at the boathouse from Napoli’s Restorante and Pizzeria in Old Clermont. Overall it was a fantastic day. Thank you to all of donors and parents that make this trip possible.

Women's Varsity 4+

Faith Platz, Women’s Team Captain
Hometown: Grand Haven, MI
Major: Statistics and Economics

Today was our first day down in Clermont, and it has definitely been a change of pace being in the 85° sun! This morning we got to the very nice Clermont Boathouse and rigged our boats. Apparently we are the first college team to use this facility, so we are very grateful for this opportunity! We then had a chalk talk to brush up on our rowing technique before hitting the water. Then we headed out onto Lake Minneola for our morning row, where started to work out the kinks in our rowing after being off the water for so long.

After practice, we headed back to the townhouse and had a few hours of much needed rest and relaxation. For many of us, we arrived very late last night (or even this morning), so most of us napped the afternoon away. Our townhouse is very comfortable and it is so great to have the whole team altogether instead of being in a hotel. We are very fortunate to be in a place like this! For our second practice, we worked even more on our technique in fours. After a short row, we washed all our boats and ate some delicious pizza from Napoli’s Italian Ristorante and Pizzeria in Downtown Clermont. Some of us then headed to the store to stock up on some sustenance for the week.

It was a great start to what I am sure will be an even better week, and I look forward to the warm weather, sunshine and (hopefully) tanner skin. Keep pulling for the Laker Navy!

Learning from each other

Jacob Spiess
Hometown: Whitehouse, OH
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Yesterday I flew to Orlando from Detroit. This is the first time I have ever been to Florida and am very excited to be here.

Today was the first day on the water since winter started and it was nice to finally take some strokes in a boat as opposed to an erg. The weather was 80 degrees as we were running from our house to the Lake County Rowing Center; the boathouse that we launched from. The facilities here are absolutely gorgeous and we are all very happy to be here.

After the practice we washed the boats and put them away for the day. In our free time after practice, I joined a group of people who went out for a walk in downtown Clermont. Down there we found a great bookstore called the Rabbit Hole, which had a lot of cool books and comic memorabilia and a neat little frozen yogurt place. I think this is the start of what looks like an amazing experience and winter training trip.

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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