Archive for March, 2018

President’s Wrap Up

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

Wrap up picture sunset

Faith Platz, President
Hometown: Grand Haven, MI
Major: Statistics and Economics
Another Spring Break Training Camp in the books! For the final culmination of the trip, we welcomed the University of North Carolina Men’s Rowing Club to scrimmage us on the Tennessee River. Thankfully the rain held off, and we were able to race multiple men’s varsity fours, novice men’s eights, and the varsity women’s eight. All in all, there were about eight boats across the river at once, and we did five short races. It was great to get a first taste of spring racing with so many boats going side by side. We are very grateful that the UNC men were able to join us for our last practice.

This week has allowed so many of us to improve, push ourselves, and break through walls. For a few of the novice men, this was the very first time they had been in a racing shell, but you would not have thought that if you saw them busting it out on the racecourse this morning. After we finished racing, we mingled with the Tar Heels and ate lunch together, then headed back to the hotel to gather our things. With the trailer loaded, we began the long caravan home.

Despite the weather being a bit chillier than we had hoped, at least we weren’t back in Allendale covered in snow (even though we did get a few flakes down here!). We are so thankful for East Tennessee Rowing for allowing us to row out of their boathouse for the week. It was a wonderful, secluded venue where we were able to get lots of great mileage in. As they say, “mileage makes champions,” and the Laker Navy definitely added to the odometer this week. After lots of hard work this week, we know it’s only going to get harder before it gets easier, but that’s okay because it’s officially spring season! As I sit in this 12-passenger van traveling through the wilderness of northern Kentucky, I can’t help but to get excited that two weeks from today I’ll be racing in sunny San Diego, CA. As a senior, every day is one day closer to end of my Grand Valley Rowing journey, and I’m doing all I can to get the most out of every one. Thanks for following along with us this week, and as always, keep pulling for the Laker Navy!

Day 9 – March 10th

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

Team picture Spring Training 2018

Athlete: Audrey Boersen
Class: Sophomore
Major: B.S. Behavioral Neuroscience
GPA: 3.6
Height: 5’ 4”
2k: 7:12.7
Academic Goal: Attend Medical School after GVSU
Rowing Goal: To compete on a national team

Spring break for the Laker Navy brings about many challenges, both in and outside of the boat. But the crews have pushed through all of the trials, and for that we’ve come out stronger, better, and faster.

We began the week by starting at square one, beginning with the basics of the stoke. We picked apart the release, the recovery, the catch and the drive. Each day had a different discussion topic, and in the following two practices we would try to perfect what we had just been taught. The changes that came about were evident. Each person took something away from these experiences this week. Whether the athlete was a four year senior, or a one semester freshman each person is able to walk away from this training with their head held high, knowing that they improved through the work that they put in this week.

The past few days have been a culmination of the basics, and the work has shown. Our current women’s varsity eight is made up of two seniors, three juniors, two sophomores, and two freshman. One freshman, in particular, showed herself to be a valuable asset to the team, after just one semester of rowing. After a few “early retirements” a few of the novices stepped up, and for them this week has been about making leaps and bounds of improvement, enough to show that they deserve to be considered for the crew that heads out to the San Diego Crew Classic in a few short weeks. While the veteran rowers were skeptical of these new faces and their rowing experience, the freshmen proved it to the team, and to themselves that they deserve a spot in the boat, by making us a faster team than previous years.

Through their hard work and perseverance the novices have shown the veterans that they are a necessary member of the team, and all of us agree that they should be in the boat because each one has made the boat go faster. Our races against the men’s varsity fours have proven this. At the beginning of the week we struggled to keep up with the men, but after our training, and our perfecting of the stroke, we are able to keep up with this group of men, and even surpass them in some pieces. Today the women proved themselves racing against our men’s fours, but also taking on University of North Carolina’s men’s fours. In each piece the women put up a fight, not wanting to be the losing boat, and, while we didn’t win every race, we showed that we are a boat that will battle until the end, no matter what the odds are.

The Laker Navy is gearing up for a competitive spring season. Our training this week was to reacquaint ourselves with the mechanics of rowing as they happen in the boat. Moving from the basics to the fast pace of racing, this week has been in preparation for the Triple Crown races. Every person has poured blood, sweat, and tears into the spring season so far, and each crew has come away faster, ready to face the challenges of the racing season ahead of us. This week has taught us a lot, but there are some very important points that came out of this week. We learned that no matter your size, or your experience, if you are willing to conquer the challenges presented to you, you will come out stronger than ever before. But a more important lesson is that no one person makes a team, the team is the combined effort of every person in the boat to endure through the pain, and to work together to make the bow ball come out in front.

Rowing Womens Team

Jessie Hasenau, Women’s Team Captain
Hometown: Livonia MI
Major: Clinical Exercise Science

13 practices later, we made it. The day began to blur into one big fartlek for me until this morning when we woke up bright and early for our last row of spring break at the Smoky Mountain Rowing Club. Thank you Coach Allen Eubanks for hosting us this week!

Coach Bancheri being good friends with the University of North Carolina’s coach, Micah Boyd, organized a scrimmage with the men’s crews in fours and our women’s varsity 8+ in the mix. Did the women hold their own? Of course. Did we take a small lead? Perhaps. Still there were some very fast boats, great energy, and improvements made by novice as well as varsity. We worked on our high carry over the waves and the wakes that 2 speedboats generously delivered to us during races. It’s fine, GV can row through anything. Not to mention we had 3 novices in the women’s varsity eight! With this long week of technical rows, seat races, and scrimmages it was exciting for us to measure our current speed going into the spring season.

After a quick lunch with UNC we jumped in the vans to change at the hotel and check out. With the vans packed tight and full tanks of gas we set off at 12:30pm in a 5 car caravan behind the trailer where I am blogging to you live right now. With plenty of van ride games and rtc playlists the drive should go by fast and get home to our cozy beds late tonight. Although we do lose an hour…Don’t forget to set your clocks an hour forward!

Go Lakers!

Jake Jones Pair

Jake Jones
Criminal Justice
Onondaga, MI

Today was our last day of spring training in Louisville/Alcoa, Tennessee before heading back to Michigan to start our spring racing season. As per usual the last day practice was spent doing pieces and seat racing, this is always exciting because everyone is ready to go fast after a long week of technical work. This year we were joined by the University of North Carolina Rowing Club men’s team, this added another level of excitement and energy to the morning. We had been doing a lot of inner-squad racing over the past week and were excited to have new opponents to test our speed against. We started the morning as usual with leaving the hotel at 8am and heading to the course, shortly after we arrived at the course UNC arrived and joined us in the boathouse.

After brief introductions we launched and headed out to start the practice for the day. All of the varsity men were in fours, novice men in eights, and GV varsity women in their eight. All crews warmed up then came together and lined up to start the racing, we did five races that were each five minutes long. After the racing was done we headed back to the dock and had lunch with the UNC men. After lunch we parted ways with UNC and packed up and hit the road to head home. I thought this was a productive spring break, we got a lot of miles in and some technical work as well. I look forward to the spring racing season and seeing how the team does at the triple crown regattas.

Novice Men's Pair

Chris Markules
Grand Rapids, MI
Exercise Science

The last day of spring break, words no college kid wants to hear, but sadly for our group, today was the day. The morning started with a quick breakfast and a rushed packing. Next, we were off to the course to meet North Carolina for racing. They were great competition, really made us focus on our technique and power. The Novice Men team really came together as a group during this race, we rallied together to motivate ourselves to rip as hard as we could. Being a novice in my first semester in rowing I learned so much such as what must be done by each rower consistently to make the boat go its fastest. After the race, we mingled with all of the UNC kids talking about what their spring training has been like. All in all, it was a great week where the team really bonded and got a lot faster, but now we are headed back to the cold of Michigan in the vans.

Coach John with mega phone

Coach John Bancheri (14th year)
Hometown: Atlantic City, NJ
Major: History Area Studies and Social Science
Minor: Coaching
Masters in Liberal Arts

Last day of spring training 2018 at the East Tennessee Rowing Organizations Smoky Mountain Rowing Club. Coach Allen Eubanks has been a great host and very supportive of our endeavor.

Today coach Micah Boyd and his North Carolina Tar Heels came up to scrimmage our crews in 1500 pieces. The North Carolina men’s four won the Head of the Charles in the fall. Therefore they were a great benchmark to measure our development and current speed.

I was pleased with the direction of the outcomes. With a few changes, I believe we have found correct combinations as we move forward into the racing season.

I was especially pleased with our Varsity Women’s 8 who hung with and beat some of the men’s fours. After getting a good whipping from the Michigan State Varsity women, our Ladies continued improving. Today in relation to our fours they were are markedly faster. Not bad with two novice sitting 3 and 4 seat.

It has been a great week for everyone and we all learned a lot. I’ve been coaching now for almost 40 years and this Camp was as productive as any I remember. The top level athletes we have will make a fast 8. They will represent the Laker Navy this spring to the best of their ability.

Go Lakers!

Day 8 – March 9th

Friday, March 9th, 2018


Cass Bruins, Women’s Team Captain
Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO
Major: Exercise Science

Hello from Alcoa, Tennessee!
We have had quite the week so far training in all sorts of weather and water conditions. Luckily, today we woke up to a sunshiney, calm, flat water day and utilized it for what we call a “Darth Vader” row (30k+) for the morning’s practice. AND we got to sleep in an extra hour- whooo hoooo! This morning’s practice was definitely one for the books. While it was quite a long row, my boat got in so many good strokes and learned a lot about the run of the boat and how to perfect it. These longer rows my be challenging for the mind and body but they help the athletes really get a feel for the boat and how changing little aspects of technique can make a huge difference.

This afternoon we came back to the course a bit early to clean up and start loading the trailer fro our departure tomorrow. After everything was squared away we hit the water in a Women’s 8+, and Men’s 8+, and a Novice Men’s 8+ for a swing row. After some tech work we lined up for a few starts against each other. The women’s boat did amazing against the boys and I am very proud of how far we have come even just on this trip. These starts and 40 second pieces are some of my favorite workouts because we really get competitive and I personally excel in the length and power drills and the start sequences.

When we arrived back at the hotel after practice the team provided pizza, but myself and a few other women walked across the street to Ruby Tuesday for the unlimited salad bar because we just needed some greens in our lives today (and the peach tea there is delicious).

This week of training has been quite the roller coaster of sun, snow, racing, and drills but in the end, we are all getting much faster and improving our technique immensely, and I cannot wait to see how far we go in the spring season!

Until next time, y’all!

Rowing in the evening

Jacob Spiess
Hometown: Whitehouse, OH
Major: Exercise Science

The week is finally coming to a close as we round out what seems like a long camp. Today we rowed 20 miles in total in the morning as a closing to the testing and training throughout the week. In the afternoon, we went for a swing row to prepare us for the racing tomorrow against UNC. This week has been exciting as we get ready for what will be an exciting spring season and eventually a trip to Henley. Before that, however, we have to test what we’ve learned against UNC as they begin they’re spring break.

This week has been a mix of fun, hard work, and competition. With a steady mixture of seat racing, drills, and steady state we’re gearing up for the near future that is the sprint season. You can see the excitement on each rower’s face as they talk about how close we are to the spring races. Although we’re excited to get there, we know that a lot of prep and conditioning goes into those competitions and that starts here. Not only is it the drills and racing that works, it’s the team bonding, the jokes before practice, and the nights spent at dinner or playing games that make winners. That all starts at this camp, the unity formed through this camp is what will carry us through the final 500 at ACRA when we’re exhausted and at our limits and still down a seat.

I can honestly say that spring training has prepped us for UNC and has become a spring board for what will be a good season.

Novice Women

Faustine Sutton
Hometown: Memphis, TN
Major: Allied Health Sciences – Pre PA

Waking up an hour later this morning made for a great start to the day. We didn’t have a chalk talk this morning, so we went straight on the water when we got to the boathouse. We(the novice and some varsity women) were in an eight boat together. Dan laid out what we would be working on before we headed out in order to mentally prepare us for what needed to be fixed. He told us we need to focus on balance out of the catch, feathering away all at once, and not rushing up the slide. He also wanted to take every small thing we’ve worked on this week and put it all together with a long row.

Once on the water, it was a lot harder said than done to set the boat as an eight. We rowed continuously, alternating from 6’s to 8’s on the feather. The boat started off rough and unbalanced, but by the end of the first practice, our balance became better and we ended up getting more comfortable as an eight.

Our final practice of the day was short but helpful. We split into two fours, which helped us get more miles in and focus on what we learned during the week. I definitely noticed improvement in my technique, as well as my teammates’ technique, by the end of the day.

Picture of Dan and Coach Lauren with boats

Coach Dan Martin
Hometown: Arlington, Virginia

It’s an exciting Friday night in Alcoa, TN – I’m sitting in my hotel room, eating cold pizza and watching my Virginia Cavaliers advance to the ACC Tournament final. At the end of a long week of two-a-days, it’s about all I’m capable of doing; on the other hand I’m well aware that all our athletes are feeling even more drained. There’s no question that it’s been effort well-spent: every practice we’ve come off the water better than we were when we launched.

I’ve been working with a mixed group of athletes through the week, with the 2V women joining the novice squad for about half of our practices. We’ve been out in 4’s and 8’s (and on one memorable day, a mixed 6+ featuring our men’s double in the stern) and taking a ton of strokes by partial boats – with a heavy technical focus all week, having the extra stability has been crucial in our development. Along with the points that Coach B has emphasized in his morning chalk talks, our primary theme has been ‘doing our work in the water’. I like to joke that rowers are fundamentally lazy – 60% or more of our time in a race is spent on the recovery, very consciously not working – and as a result, we want to make sure that the effort we do put in goes directly towards making our boat move.

I’ve been very impressed with the progress the athletes in my group have made. They’re working on some fine details – a shift of a centimeter in finish height, for instance – but they’ve been locked-in and focused throughout the week. It’s been gratifying to see these athletes, even at the end of a hard week, bringing such a high level of attention to their craft each day. I’m looking forward to returning to our home on the Grand so we can build on the foundation we’ve established here.

Day 7 – March 8th

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

Varsity Women in an eight

Melissa Frank
Oswego, IL
Major: Biochemistry
Today, the team was back to our normal schedule of eating breakfast between 7 and 8, heading out to the course at 8 for our first row of the day. In two fours, the novice women and the 2v women headed out battling the cold and snow to practice putting everything together that we had focused on for the beginning of the trip: posture, body prep, timing, control, the catch and the release. We did multiple different stationary drills to focus on putting everything together. Between drills we did some steady state rowing in order to warm up. After that practice, we ate lunch at the course and headed back to the hotel to sit in the hot tub and warm up and get feeling back in our hands and toes!

We had a quick turn around after the morning practice and headed back to the course at 2:30 for some steady state. In an eight, we went out to battle the water and snow once again. We started with our usual pre-race technical warm up and rowing on the square, and then did a nineteen-minute pyramid downstream. After that we rowed back to the boat house, by sixes, and by all eight. On our way back from practice, we decided to go to Chick-Fil-a! So, we had 5 minutes to run back into the hotel change, grab our wallets, and head out to get some food!! And then I personally settled in for the night, to watch some Netflix and sleep.

Sal Bancheri

Salvatore Bancheri
Hometown: Allendale, MI
Major: Accounting
I woke up this morning at 7:30 having to leave for practice at 8. Yesterday morning we had to leave by 6:45 to scrimmage against Georgetown, in which we held off their second varsity boat in our last piece. Today was a lighter practice and was focussed more towards stationary drills and some steady state. It was really cold out in the morning and pretty choppy out on the water. During practice, I learned when striking from the balance you need to keep your hands level and parallel with the oar-lock which also keeps the boat balanced and we also focused on striking to the balanced and how to gradually square into the catch in a way that makes your catches feel like the water is catching your blade in the water. After morning practice, we headed back the hotel and grabbed some lunch and enjoyed the hottub, which felt really good on my muscles after pieces from the day before. We went to the course again around 4 and worked on the same drills and technique as before. We rowed all eight in our novice boat with our 3 and 4 seat having no experience on the water and had gotten in a boat for their first time this past Saturday. The set of the boat wasn’t too bad and we got moving pretty fast at one point. After practice, some of the coswains and other guys on the team went out to Applebees for dinner and ended the night with some half off milkshakes from sonic. Overall, it was a very productive day; I learned alot more about the sport of rowing and felt the guys in my boat and myself grew together as a team, which makes me look forward to practice tomorrow morning.

Novice Women and 2nd varsity 8

Annie Stefanich
Hometown: Armada, MI
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Today it felt like we traveled back to Michigan. There was a high of 38 and snowfall. You know it cold, when we are begging to row. We began the day by having a team breakfast before heading to the launch site.

Once we arrived at the course, we had a team stretch and a chalk talk about correct and incorrect shoulder orientation that affects the balance of the boat. We were also reminded to lean into the rigger and to have proper posture at the catch and release. Coach B discussed the drills we would be working
on during practice. He taught strike to the balance which is feathering with hands away at the release and strike from the balance which is squaring and planting the blade in the water at the catch.

On the water, we worked on maintain balance through the drive and the release by keeping blade heights the same and applying pressure to the face by having the hand accelerate into the body. Alternating between steady state and drills. Varsity and novice women took out an eight and two fours and the varsity men took out two fours and the novice men took out an eight.

We finished the morning session by strapping down all the large boats and putting all the small boats on the trailer due to the high winds. The team had lunch and headed back to the hotel for a break.

During the second practice, women 2V went out in an eight and did a long, steady state row. Rowing by sixes, rotating pairs, rowers worked on correcting individual mistakes in blade work and posture for the 90 minute practice.

Overall we had a good day, despite the colder weather, we made many improvements with our blade work which really helped to balance the boat.

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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