Archive for March, 2018

Day 2 – March 3

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

First chalk talk

Madison Evans
General Business
Fenton, MI

FINALLY We have arrived at East Tennessee Rowing Club’s boat house to kick off the first day on the water. After a lengthy unloading of the tailor and re-rigging all the boats coach gave a chalk talk. He started it off speaking in Italian and then related it to rowing by linking it to how we have to understand the language of rowing to be a part of that culture. Then he went on to re-explain the key fundamentals of rowing and how the smallest things in the boat make the biggest impact on ones’ performance. I was lucky enough to have practiced with the varsity men in fours as we set out on our first 30k of the week on the beautiful Tennessee river. The rowers mainly focused on posture and timing along with length and power for the two hours we spent on the water. After getting off the water, we had lunch and returned to the hotel for some down time. The second session of the day was a unique learning experience for me as I had the chance to witness practice in the launch with coach B, and that session we focused on one hour of skill and drill and headed in for the night. All in all, the first day of break was long but a great start.

Varsity women

Mya Diffenderfer
Laotto, IN
Radiation Therapy

Let’s just say, after not arriving to the hotel until 3 am, and then waking up 4 hours later for practice, being tired was an understatement. We left for the river at around 8:30 am for the morning practice. You could say I was a little nervous when as a novice coxswain, Coach B told me I was going to be coxing a men’s varsity 4 boat. However, I learned more today than I ever thought I could in one day and it was so fun!

I spent the first half of the Darth Vader piece in the launch with coach B enjoying all the many beautiful houses on the river and even stopping to take some pictures of him in front of his favorite house. I coxed the last half of the piece and even though I may not have done very good, I learned a lot! In the evening practice, I coxed a varsity women’s four and learned how to read where the wind is blowing and how it affects the boat. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week has in store!

Coaches Cox meeting first day

Matthew Collins
Grand Blanc, MI
Sports Management

The Laker Navy woke up groggy after a long day of traveling yesterday but ready to start Spring Break training on a great note. After enjoying breakfast at the hotel while discussing the highlights of our respective van rides, we headed to the East Tennessee Rowing boathouse to begin our morning session. After arriving and rigging all the boats, Coach Allen from ETRO welcomed us to their boathouse and laid out the ground rules. But mainly, he just wanted us to enjoy ourselves. Coach Bancheri had one of his trademark Chalk Talks that refreshed our memories of the reason for each part of the boat, which was especially good a few novices who would be hitting the water for the first time, but is just as beneficial to varsity members. For the morning practice, we embarked on what has affectionately been called the “Darth Vader Row.” This lengthy row is mainly for us to get our sea legs back as the Laker Navy has not been on the water for 3 and a half months. While trying to fight the wind, we ventured up some new water that I have not been on at my time at Grand Valley.

This was the time where we starting establishing landmarks on the shore to help us gauge the distance we cover throughout the week. After rowing approximately 14 kilometers upstream, we spun around and made the trek back. While doing this, the men rowed in 4’s by pairs and the women rowed in an 8 by sixes. We battled the entire row to make it back to the dock first. After we docked, put the boat away, and scarfed down some lunch at the course, we headed back to the hotel. I took a much needed nap, but was awakened as the men’s team gathered before our second practice to watch a commencement speech giving by a Navy SEAL. We learned some valuable lessons from this video such as always finding hope even when things get rough and no matter what you have (i.e. equipment, height), you can succeed if you put your mind to it. At the second session of the day, the varsity men took out 4 pairs and worked on the recovery sequence.

Specifically, I focused on body preparation which will reduce the tendency to speed up the last quarter of the slide. The sun started to set behind the Smoky Mountains as we headed in for the night. Back at the hotel, hungry rowers gathered in the lobby anticipating the arrival of piping hot pizza, provided by the team. A meeting followed this pizza delivery as we received the “Spring Break Guide” which details the do’s and don’ts of spring break training. The Laker Navy, filled with pizza and a desire to get better throughout the week, called it a night to rest up for tomorrow. Looking forward to a great week! Pull for the Laker Navy!

Day 1 – March 2

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

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Allyson Hicks
Hometown: Holland, MI
Major: English
The Laker Navy has made it to Spring Break! Having endured both erg season and midterms alike, we’re all ready to get back on the water.

Personally, I was a member of the advance team, who had the privilege of leaving at daybreak this morning. Being the good college students that we are, Audrey Boersen, Cass Bruins, and I were well rested, jovial, and ready to attack the day. Or something like that.

With the trailer loaded and triple checked with care, we hit the road: the sun rising in the morning sky and Coach B’s self-proclaimed “hippy music” gracing our ears. The mood was light as we debated controversial topics, answered song trivia, and kept our friends updated on our journey.

Fortunately, we all at least claim to like each other, which made cramming ourselves in the truck tolerable. At each stop, we trailer-monkeyed our way up to check the boats’ straps, a great way to stretch out my lanky-limbed self.

We arrived at Smoky Mountain Rowing Club around 5pm, unhitched the trailer, and unloaded the truck. As the sun started to set, we took in the sight of the river on which we’ll be spending most of our week.

Having amassed quite an appetite during the long day, we rushed to the hotel to prep for dinner at Brazeiros, a Brazilian steakhouse. We proceeded to have a seemingly never-ending meal that left all of us blissfully satisfied, unable to comprehend eating more.

It was an excellent culmination to a great travel day. Although the advanced team might be temporarily out of commission from dinner, we’re sure to be ready in the morning for the Darth Vader row and a great week ahead!

Coach Costas V Ciungan ’15

Hometown: Detroit, MI

Major: Masters in Public Administration


After months of training indoors on the ergometer this winter, the Laker Navy is excited for another annual spring training trip. Now the team will get the chance to get back on the water and merge the fitness gained on the erg with technique learned in the fall. The team overall, has been working hard putting in millions of meters on the ergometer through the Million Meter challenge and getting better every week. A goal from the coaching side is to improve athletic capacity and promote continued progress and improvement from each athlete. This goal only continues during spring training as miles makes champions.

I departed for Louisville, TN for spring training camp this morning at or around 6:00 AM. Today was a beautiful day for traveling with clear skies, lots of sun, and warmer weather as we traveled south. The truck and trailer were well loaded by the team in the week prior to departure because the team had to evacuate our boathouse because of flooding. The team pulled together and got the trailer loaded in an emergency during mid-term week under the direction of Coach Bancheri. The coaches organized and planned and the athletes used their teamwork with coaches to get trailer loaded and boathouse prepared for flooding. The team was also featured in : FOX17 News: Laker Navy Pulls Together to Save Equipment

I was traveling with the trailer and drove the trailer for a leg and overall the drive went smooth with very little traffic. The advanced team comprised of me, Coach Bancheri, Cass Bruins, Audrey Boersen, and Allyson Hicks. We arrived at the venue: Smoky Mountain Rowing at or around 5:30 p. This is the first time the team has trained out of this venue, and what a beautiful venue it was by first sight. Great wide river, miles of row-able water, and beautiful docks and boathouse to boot. Venue Link here. I got excited just arriving and seeing the water, boathouse, and warmer weather knowing that a productive week of training is ahead for my team.

As a coach and alumni, spring training is major component of a winning culture that focuses on continued improvement and growth. Every athlete not only pushing themselves, but the guys and girls around them, while trusting that their teammates are doing the same. It is the opportunity for the athlete to start building confidence in their rowing and trust in their teammates; every stroke and mile rowed. Overall, this spring training trip will be very productive for the entire team as rowers perfect their technique and teamwork one stroke at a time. The process continues for the Laker Navy because the spring training trip has just begun and a lot of learning, rowing, and speed is to come. As for me, I am excited to get back on the water and help my team improve every day and every way in using their body weight, both on the drive and recovery, to move the boat as indicated by the blade.






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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