Archive for March, 2017

Trip Wrap-Up/Day 8 – March 11th

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Zack Peters, Team President
Hometown: Royal Oak, MI
Major: Marketing and Finance
This has been a fantastic and productive week in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. It is especially significant to me because it will be my last Spring Break training trip with the team. As president and a four year senior I think that this training trip was one of the best I have ever been on. Our hotel was perfect for the team and had many amenities available. There were hearty early morning breakfasts and late night euchre games.
The course was just a short drive from the hotel and the weather was good all week. During practice we stood true to Fairbairn’s old adage that mileage makes champions. We rowed three separate darth vader rows and did some of the most productive technical work I have ever been a part of. The whole team has made great strides as oarsmen and oarswomen on this trip. In addition to the technical improvements we also did a bunch of seat racing. Everyone fought hard and earned their seats as the bell notes rang.
We took advantage of all that Oak Ridge had to offer. We visited The American Museum of Science and Energy where they gave our organization a presentation about the areas nuclear history. Afterward we went to a Chinese buffet where we stuffed ourselves in order to prepare for seat racing the following day. On Wednesday we went to Gatlinburg for an afternoon of good food and tourism. The team enjoyed going to many different shops and attractions along the main drag.
Overall this week was an amazing experience for our organization. A lot of learning, fun, and fitness was had by all. Thank you so much to all of the parents, donors, and supporters that made this week possible. We can’t do what we do without your help.

New Trailer
Faith Platz, Women’s Team Captain
Hometown: Grand Haven, MI
Major: Statistics
Happy last day of Spring Training! I think the weather was trying to ease us back into Michigan temperatures, because we woke up to some snowfall today. After we gathered up all our belongings and had a quick breakfast at the hotel, we piled into the vans and headed to the course for the last time. It was pretty busy at the venue due to an NCAA women’s regatta, but we were able to get a long steady state row in. The women were in two fours, and we did some battle paddle and worked on our technique even more, implementing the slap-square drill by all four. To finish the week on the water, all crews did a 2k piece on the course during the regatta’s lunch break. It was good to see all our hard work culminate into this last race, and it definitely warmed us up in this chilly weather!
Once we docked, the de-rigging and loading began. It’s definitely much much easier to load everything with our new trailer, so things went pretty smoothly. After everything was all loaded and ready to go, we took our annual team photo, then Coach B commended our efforts for this week. Everyone put in so much work and we made a lot of progress both on and off the water. Spring Break is always a little bit daunting, with all the pressure of seat races, the exhaustion of Darth Vader rows, and the painful amount of blisters that make it almost impossible to flatten your hand, but we all survived! And better yet, we are headed back to Allendale knowing that we improved as a team, and I personally cannot wait until we get to finally put our efforts to the test in San Diego in a few short weeks. For everyone who always keeps up with these blogs, thank you so much for your support! We wouldn’t be near as successful or able to compete at the level we do without you. And, as always, keep pulling for the Laker Navy!


Zoe Niswonger
Hometown: Ada, MI
Major: Exercise Science
Today was a great last day of spring break. We checked out of the hotel bright and early for a morning row. We had a quick chalk talk upon arriving to the course and immediately got on to the water for skill and drill and a steady state row. We took out a mix of eight and fours and spent a lot of time focused on the control of the blade and the catch, greatly improving our boat dynamics. We ended our final practice of spring break with a 2000 meter piece at a 28 stroke rate, focusing on propulsion per stroke. After that we quickly loaded the trailer, had a few photo op’s and got on the road. We’re headed home, and not prepared for the cold ahead. Overall, we had a great spring break at Oak Ridge Rowing Association filled with huge gains and massive improvements. I know I can speak for the rest of the team in saying that we can’t wait to keep breaking records and getting faster. See you next year, Oak Ridge!

Day 7 – March 10th

Friday, March 10th, 2017


Maddy Moldenhauer
Hometown: Marysville, MI
Major: Biology
This morning started off with a practice time of 9am, which is a little later than usual. It felt nice to catch up on some much needed sleep and meander down to the hotel breakfast before leaving for the course in Oakridge. For the seniors, this was our last full day of spring break training in Tenessee. There was a chilly wind at the course today, which created a lot of choppy waves and made it quite cold when the sun went behind the clouds. We had a “Chalk Talk” before we got on the water that emphasized how the path travelled by the blade during the rowing stroke translates to the power of the boat. Coach B used a great analogy by having all of us take a rubber band and stretch it so that it formed the path similar to what the blade should take. It consisted of a path similar to a conveyer belt with two parallel paths that mimicked the path that the blade should take. Coach B also mentioned the potential energy of the rubber band when we stretched it to the form of the path of the blade and let us shoot him with all of our rubber bands for fun. This morning’s row was a mix of steady state and a technical row with the focus of rowing on the feather and getting the rotation around the pin. This practice put what we have learned about lengthening the stroke after adding the feather to the technique we have worked on thus far. Good improvements were made with the mixed women’s 8’s with both the varsity and novice. The varsity women have really stepped up to help the novice with their rowing strokes during the trip to help them row at our level. After our morning row, we headed into the docks and then had lunch at the course. The sandwiches, snacks, and fruit for lunch after practice hits the spot for all of the hungry rowers. We all rush there to get to the lunch table to get to the front of the line (mostly to get in front of the men because they make a lot more sandwiches than the women).

After lunch we went back to the hotel to relax before our afternoon practice. Between the morning and afternoon practices most days a lot of the rowers nap and relax to take a load off and regain some energy. These naps have been lifesavers throughout the week for training. We had a good 3 hours to prep our bodies for the next practice this afternoon. We left for the course and had a short talk with our coaches before heading out on the water. For this practice, the varsity women were put together in the varsity eight based off of the results from seat racing from Wednesday. This was one of the best practices that I, as well as some of the other varsity women, have had this year. Between the mixture of steady state and technical work, the eight seemed to match up with both timing and technique to create the balance that we’ve been looking for. We had fun at this practice while also remaining focused to row well together. We cruised around the course and left the course in a very positive mood. After practice, we had pizza in the lobby for dinner and received our betting shirts for the spring season. A group of us went to Gabes (a discount store similar to a TJ Maxx or Marshalls) and then went and got milkshakes at Cook Out, a restaurant located right next to our hotel. There were also some rowers that stayed back at the hotel and played games in the lobby. It’s hard to believe that this is the last full day of spring break training before we make the long hull back up to Michigan tomorrow afternoon. It has been a great trip and has prepared us even more for the sprint season ahead.


Donald Jensen
Hometown: Grosse Ile, MI
Major: Boat Speed
This morning we got up after 2 extra hours of sleep dues to coach moving practice later as a reward for our hard work during seat races and scrimmaging Georgetown. We arrived at the racecourse around 8:15 and got ready for practice and gathered around for our pre-practice chalk talk. The emphasis for todays practice was to focus on edge control and feathering down to the water. Luckily there was a monstrous head wind leading to rough water. This made us really have to focus to be able to row properly and do the drills that made us work on our catches. I personally really enjoyed the increased level of difficulty and coach even had us call each other out for doing things right which turned into a lot of funny compliments. We also took out 5 4’s for this practice, which always makes for a fun practice with good competition. We finished off our first with a 2k race with all 5 fours but this race had a twist, we had s=to see how few strokes we could take while going down the course. And coach said he had a special prize for the winner. In the end my four won the race taking only 114 strokes to get down the course. The surprise for my crew and me was that coach took us out to lunch at a Brazilian steakhouse known as Brazeiros. Long time friend of the team Vincenzo puma who is also a coach at Georgetown University donated the money for this lunch. This lunch was hands down the best lunch I have ever had in my entire life. For the first time ever I had filet mingon and it was amazing. After this lunch I returned back to the hotel and took a long nap to prepare for the afternoon session. In the second practice we went back out in the fours and returned to the emphasis of squaring down (never square up) and propulsion per stroke. It was cool seeing all the varsity women’s programs out on the river with us who are going to compete tomorrow. At the end of this practice we did another race of the course with the goal a=of as few strokes as possible. This time me and the guys from this morning were able to traverse the course in only 101 strokes. However we were all pretty mad we couldn’t do it in fewer than 100. All in all we had a super productive day on the water despite the rough conditions and the men’s team greatly improved as a whole. And was one of my favorite days the training trip so far.


Sammi Keller
Hometown: Trenton, MI
Major: Undecided
Today got off to a bit of a later start. After a few days of early practice we got some much needed rest and left the hotel around 8:30 this morning. Upon arrival at the course we sat down for a chalk talk based around the placement and drive of the stroke and how to keep the blade in the water as long as possible. Coach B gave us each a rubber band and had us stretch them to simulate the length of the blade. After the talk we split into boats and got on the water. I am not a coxswain but I have some experience with it from high school and because we needed another for the men’s practice today I coxed one of the fours. The water was quite rough because of the wind so we stayed close to the course in case things took a turn for the worst. We worked on a few drills and headed up river by pairs working within the boats on length and the catch. Once we turned to head home it went much faster because we were rowing with the current and the wind. We got back to the course and raced to see which boat would win using the smallest number of strokes. My boat won crossing both the finish line first and only having taken 114 strokes. We headed back to the docks and went in for lunch. After we ate, we piled into the vans and went back to the hotel to rest before our next practice.

Afternoon practice rolled around and we took out the same boats as the morning, focusing on length and drive with bob drills and pause drills. We raced the fours for the last bit of practice again trying to see who could take the least amount of strokes. My boat kept the rate close to a 16 the entire time and took a total of 101 which was better than this morning.

Today was a challenging day but I believe the experience as a coxswain will make me a better rower in the long run. I learned a lot and can definitely transfer some things over into my own boat. It’s been a long but enjoyable trip and I am sad it is coming to an end so quickly but I am excited to see where this spring season will take us.


Claire Krajkowski
Hometown: Saginaw MI
Major: Special Education
After a long and busy row yesterday, Coach B let us sleep in a little (to 8 am). We started off with a chalk-talk in the lobby using the tables. We used a flat surface to emulate the water and our slid our hands across to represent the blade moving through the recovery. Coach had us use our outside hand to go forward and then back in a straight line, then we lifted it up two inches and did the same thing. This was to demonstrate how we should maintain a constant handle height on the recovery. Then, with our inside hand we did the same thing but since we
feather with our inside hand, we were told to have our wrists rise as we feather. The wrong way is to lower the knuckles which, if you were on the water, would sky the blade and cause you to miss water.

After we did this, we went to the boathouse for another chalk-talk with an erg-arm to emphasize the importance of correct posture. He had us use rubber bands to visualize how when rowers try to lengthen their stroke on the drive, they deepen their oar in the water which makes them look like their blade is rowing in a circle. Rowing in a circle is similar to when a rubber band is floppy and weak. Alternatively, when the rowers row in a race track shape, its like pulling a rubber band back which gives more power behind it. Finally, we set out for the water. The waves in the water were very choppy which forced the rowers to have a high carry while rowing so they could have a smooth recovery. The men’s team was out in five fours which for a coxswain, was very stressful because we had to make sure that our steering was efficient. To start off, Coach had us use our inside hand only and outside hand forward towards the stern to stress the importance of a high carry through the recovery. This was followed by drills focusing on the proper catches and lengthening the strokes. To conclude our first practice, Coach had all of the fours line up at the start of the course and asked them to take the least amount of strokes for a ~2000-meter race. The winners got to go out to a nice lunch with Coach. For the second practice, we did the same as the first. We focused on a high carry through the water and long stokes with a low rate. Overall, today was very educational for me because a lot of the stuff that we went over I did not know prior to today. I definitely have learned a lot about coxing while working with the varsity and Coach B and the rest of the coaching staff. I can’t wait for what’s to come in the rest of the season!

Day 6 – March 9th

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

GVSU joining Georgetown University for 1,000 meter pieces.

Posted by John Bancheri on Thursday, March 9, 2017

Elliot Rieth
Major: Communications
Hometown: East Grand Rapids, MI
Today was quite the full day for the Laker Navy. A challenge to be sure, but one that we met with great enthusiasm. We started the morning with a shock the system. A set of five 1250 to 2000 meter length pieces were first on the plan. These pieces were a part of seat racing in order to determine the line-up for the varsity 8. The intensity and comradery of these pieces reminded me of why I love rowing. The opportunity to push myself to my boundaries alongside my friends is always an incredible experience. After a short break, we went back out onto the water to do some technical work in pairs. It was fun to be back in a pair with my pair partner, Drew. They are a great way to coach yourself because of how technically proficient one must be to successfully row them.

After a full morning, we headed back to the hotel. I enjoyed a relaxing mid-afternoon hangout with the men’s captains, Chris and Rob. We discussed the morning and awaited our afternoon practice. Once practice rolled around again, we discovered we were going to scrimmage Georgetown. This was another amazing opportunity. Being able to compete against such a well-renowned group of athletes was a pleasure. It was great to be able to see the extent of our training and to see where even more work could take us in the future. I believe that today has helped the men to get a taste of race season, and I believe that we all are excited for what is to come in this upcoming season.

After practice, I enjoyed a relaxing evening with friends, going to Cracker Barrel for dinner and ending the night by watching some Forrest Gump back at the hotel. A large group competed in a euchre tournament called “Euchrepalooza” as well, a tradition of the Grand Valley Rowing Club on trips. Overall, I enjoyed today. It showed me that pushing myself showed the results I had hoped for, and that I had a lot to be excited for in the future.


Rachel Andrud
Hometown: Milford, MI
Today was a busy day.
I woke up in a good mood, ready to take on the day. We had a quick breakfast and the headed out to the course. In the morning, the women’s team went through a hard seat racing matrix. This consisted of six 1250 meter races with people switching between boats in between the races. This took about 3 hours, making it a long morning practice. Everyone rowed really hard and gave it their all. I’m proud of my teammates for putting in as much effort as they did after such a hard week of training. After a good lunch at the course we headed back to the hotel for a little rest and recovery before the next practice.

During our break, I called my mom and updated her about our trip and then went to the local Starbucks and caught up on a little bit of studying. We soon headed back out to the course for a little bit of technical rowing to finish off the day. The women’s team headed out with the top 8 women in two separate fours and then the bottom 8 women in the 8 (the top and bottom women were determined from the seat race this morning). My four had a some trouble working together, which made the row a little frustrating, but after a quick seat change we started to row together better and finished it on a good note. After the second practice, we all headed back to the hotel to change and grab dinner. I went to crackle barrel for dinner and then some of the team had a fun euchre tournament in the hotel lobby. Overall, it was tough and long day but it made us better and that’s all that matters.


Annie Thoits
Hometown: Grosse Pointe, MI
Major: Biomedical Science and Film
Today started out with team breakfast at the hotel and then we hopped into the vans and left promptly at 7:30am. Arriving at the course we quickly warmed up and separated into our lineups so we could get started with the 6 pieces we had designated for practice today. We started with our daily warmup which consisted of swing pick, quarter slide, 3/4 slide, and then finishing with full slide. We rowed hard on each piece and in-between pieces we worked on balance and blade work as we rowed back up to the starting point. After pieces we ate lunch on the course and relaxed in the sun before leaving back to the hotel for a break before the next practice. Some of the team chose to take a break in the hot tub while others, like myself, chose to nap instead after all the hard work that morning.

The 2nd practice consisted of some steady state rowing with all fours or all eights and a lot of drill work to continue working on balance so our rowing is crisp when we race in the coming months. Practice ended on a positive note with encouraging talks from team members about hard work. All in all we made some great progress today and found new things to work on tomorrow!


Jacob Spiess
Hometown: Whitehouse, OH
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Today marks the sixth day in what has been a long but fun spring training. As this being my first I can’t compare it to past training trips but to say “I’m having fun” is not enough to explain it. Even though this is not my first time in Tennessee this is my first time on a spring training trip for rowing.

This morning we raced on the water in short pieces and I was in an eight. We did really well and went fast. During our off time I decided to rest and enjoy the afternoon. Earlier in the week however I did take advantage of the hot tub and the pool conveniently located in the hotel we are staying at. This afternoon I remained in my eight and on the water we repeated the pieces at a lower rate to help our form at lower rates.

It has been a great week so far and it will be something I will look back on fondly. Everything from visiting a museum, walking through Gatlingburg, going across the parking lot for a easy to reach milkshake and even the long pieces will be looked back on for a long time.

Day 5 – March 8th

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Amber Crotty Coxswain

Amber Crotty
Hometown: Muskegon, MI
Major: Biomedical Science
After a productive and fulfilling night of fun, the Grand Valley Rowing team woke up bright and early for an 8am practice. The Grand Valley women’s team joined the men’s team chalk-talk, which consisted of feathering (edge control of the blade) to the bow. Essentially, how the bottom edge of the blade moves on its “hinge” down from the top edge (also striking “to” and “from” the balance). We separated into our boats and launched for a long-steady-technical row. The women’s team mixed the novices with the varsity squad for some even and fun technical “battle-paddle”. After a productive and liberating experimental row, the team headed back to the hotel to change/shower for a day of exploring Gatlinburg.

We gathered in the vans, and had our own mini dance parties on our way to the tourist extravaganza. After arriving we headed to the restaurant called Blaine’s. The food was delicious and the waitress was very helpful in pointing out the must-see attractions of Gatlinburg. My group walked around and purchased a 1 Ib (yes one pound) box of Mountain Taffy. The owner of the store was very excited to explain why their Taffy was very special. Their Taffy was made using milk instead of saltwater, which gives it a creamier taste, definitely worth the 7$. After walking around for a bit we made our way to the creek, to enjoy the social ducks that were feeding only a few feet away from where we sat on the bench. Unfortunately, our time ran out in Gatlinburg and we made our way back to the hotel. After a day full of adventure the team retired to their rooms for a peaceful night of sleep.

Varsity men in fours and an eight

Ben Williams
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Major: Political Science
Today we woke up a little earlier again to head to the course for our second “Darth Vader” row. Most of us were excited for a long practice working on our technique. We set of for our row and made a lot of progress throughout the morning, working in fours and eights pushing each other. The weather was phenomenal with no sign of yesterdays rain, lots of sunshine and warmth for a three hour row.

After getting back from the practice we headed back to the hotel quickly and prepared for our trip to Gatlinburg. We packed up the vans and set off for the little tourist town. We got there to find that almost the entire town was unharmed by the large fires that happened there this last year. The businesses were up and running, and the forest surrounding the town was still beautiful. We all shopped, meandered, and set up hammocks, enjoying the afternoon away from any noticeable weather. After a few hours we made our way back to the hotel, and I for one feel rested and ready to get back on the water tomorrow morning.

Chalk talk

Madison Evans
Hometown: Grand Blanc, MI
Major: Marketing
Today we got up bright and early to face the day! After our breakfast and lots of caffeine we packed up and loaded the vans we left the hotel at about 7:30 to head to the river. Today’s morning workout consisted of a Darth Vader row which is a 3×40 minute row. They call it a Vader row because if you do the workout right you are sure to be breathing like Darth Vader when you are done. After my morning workout we got a chance to eat lunch my personal favorite PB&J was on the menu today. After lunch and a quick shower the team and I headed to the awesome city of Gatlinburg where some teammates and I roamed through the Smoky Mountains. Overall this was a great way to end the day after our long workout this morning!

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