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.
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!
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.