Archive for June, 2018

Day 12 – June 30th, 2018

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

Team Photo Reading Town

Cassidy Bruins
Athlete: Cassidy Bruins, Stroke Seat, Women’s V8+
Year: Senior
Hometown: Colorado Springs
Quote: “Power moves only”
If I could tell my incoming teammates one thing, it would be: Never stop fighting. The greatest successes come from the greatest hardships.

Hello Laker Navy fans,

Today was a hot, sweaty, fun, sad, bittersweet, but amazing experience. My last official race as a collegiate rower for GVSU. As you are reading me attempt to put my feelings into words, you should know that I can not quite capture it properly, but as with everything else- I will do my best. Part of me wants to laugh, another part wants to cry, but mostly I am just glad that I spent the day laughing with my buds and walking away from a regatta with a pot (trophy) in an event we had never done before, with a bucket rigged boat that we have never been in before. I am sad to say goodbye to racing and to my boat, but happy I have had the experiences today and this season that I have.

This morning we woke up early, and headed out to the neighboring town, Reading, around 7 am. When we arrived it was chilly and cloudy and things were not looking great. As the morning went on, the clouds cleared and everyone seemed to cheer up. My boat launched mid-morning and getting into an unknown, brand new boat was amazingly cool, but soooo difficult to set. We prevailed through the first round and then into the finals, where we faced Oxford and our teammates in the other GVSU boat. We found our set and our power and the boat flew across the river, blades slicing the water perfectly. The victory was sweet, although it was half against our teammates. We got our pots and were very satisfied.

The 8+ launched mid-afternoon and we thought we had it all and we were wrong. It was not the cleanest race, and it just didn’t click. It clearly just was not our race to win. I am sad to end on that note in the 8+. However after our incredible time trial yesterday, I will just pretend it did not happen and remember the good over the bad. That is what I am best at.

The men’s boat also faced each other in the final, and watching them battle for first was a treat for the the team on land, it was a great race. I am proud of each of my teammates and the time they have put into this season, all (except one boat) coming down to our efforts today, and we all are stoked to watch the men’s 4 compete in the Henley on Wednesday.

We are all getting ready to go out to eat and for a night on the town, and are very excited to roam about London as a team tomorrow!

Men's 4+ B Entry

Aidan McCoy
Athlete: Aidan McCoy, Bow Seat, Men’s B 4+
Year: Sophomore
Hometown: Chicago
I chose Grand Valley because: Fantastic school with great academics, and my high school coach rowed here as well.
If I could tell my incoming teammates one thing, it would be: You’re stronger than you know.

It was rough waking up today. Rushed and delirious I stumbled out of my bunk bed. Made a hot cup of the best instant coffee a man can buy in England, and buttered a croissant. I wolfed down my half-prepared breakfast, and put on my uni to get ready for the bus to the Reading Town Regatta. As we arrived to the regatta, my bones became antsy with anticipation. I saw so many other big crews with shiny boats and oars, all I wanted to do was get out and row. My four launched first at 10:40 AM. We raced our 800 meter piece with Durham University and Brunswick University, we pulled a great piece but ended up second just behind Durham. Since we made it to the next round, we had to wait for another four hours until we raced again. I ate a hot bacon roll that they provided me at the concession stand at the regatta for three pounds, and plugged a lot of water into my body. As I fought the urge to dose off at the tent, my teammate informed me that my boat was about to launch. I splashed some water on my face, rolled my uni up, and ran to the boat. We launched once again, and rowed an even better piece against Cambridge ’99 Boat Club. We finished first with a solid three boat lengths of open water between us. This meant that we were going to enter the final with our A boat. With us being the B four, we were not expecting to do well in this race with Orange Coast Rowing Club in-between our two boats. However, this is when the story picks up a bit. Now that we made the final, a feeling of self-confidence began to slowly bubble up within the depths of our bodies. For some reason all of us felt unusually excited about the race, and we were ready to go out with a bang. We launched, and approached the start as usual. Our boat lined up with Orange Coast to the left, and our A boat to the left of Orange Coast. The official raised the flag, and the four of us gripped our oars with our lives. “Attention…..GO!” The flag whipped down and the boats were flying across the water.

I pulled with all the adrenaline and fury I built up towards this moment, and did not look out of the boat once. Orange Coast clashed with our boat once, we kept pulling, they clashed again, and we did not stop. After about three more clashes, the race was already almost half way over. I watched Orange Coast begin to come back into my peripheral vision, and from then on I was pulling with every ounce of energy I had left. I heard the chanting of my teammates from the sidelines, and I could not let them down. Before I knew it, Coast was a boat length behind us, and we had just crossed the finish line in first place. I celebrated with gasps and struggles with my boat, splashes and short yells hit my ears and I was in awe to what was happening. Everything that could have gone right went great within that race. The regatta presented us with our prized mugs, or “pots” for our victory, and happiness filled my body and my boat. Today was the best day I have had on this trip so far, and I will remember this day for years to come. I am so excited to see what else England has to offer, and I have a feeling it is going to be very hard to leave once the time comes.

Day 11 – June 29th, 2018

Friday, June 29th, 2018

 Women's V 8 Time trail

Jessica Hasenau
Athlete: Jessica Hasenau, Five Seat, Women’s V8+
Year: Junior
Hometown: Livonia, Michigan
My best race was: San Diego Crew Classic 2018
If I could tell my incoming teammates one thing, it would be: This is not a normal club. If you put in the work you will find yourself with some amazing opportunities.

Today I had the best race of my life in the Royal Henley Remenham Challenge Cup time trial qualifier.

Sitting at 5 seat in the Varsity Women’s 8+, it felt like our strongest race we have had all spring. Every woman ripped on their oar every stroke and we cleared our puddles by at least 3 feet. We smelled like underdogs and were the only club team there so you bet we had something to prove.

Special thanks to the men’s team who staggered along the course to cheer us on until they reached the next person (and Brandon for running 100m next to us), which was really cool. It’s really great to be on a team that supports each other so much. We got to cheer on one of the men’s 4+ as they did their time trial after us also going against some really tough competition and raced very well.

I felt like there was “a 1/8 of a mile left” for a mile, but it must have just been the lactic acid kicking in all our quads since the Henley Mile is longer than a mile and feels much longer than the normal 2k we’ve been so accustomed to. However, finally we crossed the finish line and knew we had each pushed ourselves as hard as we could and gave it our absolute all.

The final results were not in our favor. We rowed a great race and can all say it was something to be proud of, but sadly our boat did not qualify and so we will not be moving on next week. Thank you so much for the support back home on social media and the parents that flew all the way here to cheer us on! We’ll make sure to keep you updated tomorrow during our Reading Town regatta.

Ben Norrix

Jessica Hasenau
Athlete: Benjamin Norrix, 2 Seat, Men’s B 4+
Year: Junior
Hometown: Rockwood, MI
My best race was: My best race was my Freshman year in the Novice 8 at ACRA. We took home the silver medal in a tight race with Michigan and Orange Coast.
If I could tell my incoming teammates one thing, it would be: Stick around. Your teammates become your family. Also the Spring is the best time for rowing.

Race day. After 6 long years of dreaming of racing at the Royal Henley Regatta, my dream came true. Today began with us getting as much sleep as possible. Our race was in the afternoon and we all decided to allow ourselves to wake up naturally. I personally woke up around eight this morning. I went downstairs and made breakfast. I made the breakfast of champions. (Triple decker PB&J). My four and I gathered around the tv and watched Planet Earth Two. This kept us relaxed before our race. Sitting around waiting for us to leave was probably the hardest part of the day. I was super anxious to get on the water. Finally 1 o’clock rolled around and we set off for the race course.

Once at the course we began to stretch and prepare for our race. We put the boat in slings and had our pre race talk with coach. It came time for us to launch and when we placed the boat in the water we were launching next to Cambridge. We headed to the start line and prepared for the biggest race of our lives. They called us to the start and the official said go. We did a soft start to get the boat moving. And we hit the start line at a solid 37. We knew immediately that we were going to have a good piece. The boat felt smooth right off the bat. As we were going down the course, the rest of our team who didn't have races today lined the race course so that we would have someone cheering us on the whole course.

As we progressed down the course, our coxswain began telling us that we were moving on the crew in front of us. This kept us going. We hit Upper Thames Rowing Club, and we began to empty the tanks. We came into the grand stand area and began to hear the chants of GV..SU. We hit the finish line and immediately it hit us how tired we were. But just because we crossed the finish, we were not done yet. Our coxswain told us to hold water and we slammed on the breaks because we almost hit the crew in front of us. It was at this moment that we saw what crew we had walked on the whole race. We turned around to see Cambridge.

We got off the dock and put our boat in slings to de-rig it. We waited anxiously for the results. When they finally came out we were heartbroken to find out that we had barely missed qualifying for the bracket. We had finished 7th. Only the top 5 moved on. Even though we were heartbroken from not qualifying, we still were proud of the race and how it went. We beat crews that we did not except to. Im proud of the boys and girl in my boat for laying everything on the line. To end the day, I walked around Henley with my parents and my girlfriend before heading back to the mens Henley house to watch comedy specials on Netflix.

Day 10 – June 28th, 2018

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

Men's A4+ with Collins

Matt Collins
Athlete: Matthew Collins, Three Seat, Men’s A 4+
Year: Junior
Hometown: Grand Blanc, Michigan
I chose Grand Valley because: of the welcoming environment that the campus provided as well as the size and opportunities that GV gives its students.
If I could tell my incoming teammates one thing, it would be: appreciate the small things, like the van rides or the team dinners. Those are the things that you will remember forever.

As I awoke from our first night in the most prestigious rowing town in the rowing world,I can’t wait to see what we experience across the pond. Due to the fact that we lost two hours from our recent training trip in Greece and the British sun pierced through the skylight in our room, I woke up a few hours before we had to leave for practice. I was the first member of the team but, slowly but surely, the rest of the men came down to enjoy some crossaints and Frosties (the Frosted Flakes of England). After 2 hours of enjoying breakfast and reminiscing in our trip to Greece, we made the 10 minute journey to practice. Having seen the River Thames yesterday evening, I expected to not be taken back by it this morning, but that wasn’t the case. The crisp air made the water ripple and it was absolutely breathtaking. The men’s A four got on the water, preparing for today’s assignment: four 2 minute pieces at race pace. As we have a new boat that is more responsive, every stroke we take matters, especially those at race cadence. After some successful pieces combined with some things to work on moving forward, we put the boat away next to racks and racks of others.

After coming back to the house we are staying at, we all prepared our own combination of sandwiches, scones, and fruit. The combination of two-a-day practices across two countries and a 12 hour travel day yesterday meant that my body was in desperate need of a nap. After trying to tune out the music marathon the rest of the men’s team was playing in the speakers across the house, I was able to catch a few Z’s. After waking up, the men’s A four and men’s pair headed to the water for our second practice of the day as we don’t have a qualifying race to get into the regatta because we received a bid. Being able to be automatically entered in the regatta is incredible and I wouldn’t have imagined being in this position when I picked up an oar for the first time 3 years ago. We reduced the practiced to only one lap of the race course which focused on skill at low rates in order to get the feel of the boat.

After practice, the men’s team pooled some pounds together so we could head to the market and make a house dinner. As we enjoyed the feast of pasta and chicken with an amazing sauce made by chef Noah Lasky, we cheered on the Three Lions of the England Football Team in the World Cup. I grew up loving soccer so I will always turn on the beautiful game. Hopefully the England progresses far so we are able to go to a local restaurant in the next round so we can experience the soccer culture here. The night was topped off by the singing of Happy Birthday to Jessie Hasenau and Sal Bancheri whose birthdays have occurred since we left for Europe. As I chowed down on the brownie cake and enjoyed every calorie I could, I am looking forward to experiencing every ounce of rowing culture in Henley and culture in general in England. Pull for the Laker Navy!

Women V8+

Melissa Frank
Athlete: Melissa Frank, Three Seat, Women’s V8+
Year: Sophomore
Hometown: Oswego, IL
I chose Grand Valley because: I liked the color blue.
If I could tell my incoming teammates one thing, it would be: you get out of rowing what you put in.

Today was our first full day in Henley! And today I got my luggage from the airport which they lost on our way from Greece to Henley, which was almost as exciting as the team being able to sleep after a long day of travel yesterday in order to rest of for our time trials tomorrow. The woman’s eight got to the boat house today at 9:30 am rested and ready for a row. We set off to do our pre-race fartlek. Being in our new boat felt, good yet a bit wobbly at time partly because we’ve been training in a larger boat with larger oar handles for the passed week. The high rates 250 meter pieces felt powerful with good ratio, even Coach said our last pieces at a 36 looked as if we were at a 32 or 33. After the row many of us stopped at a local market with baked goods, fresh fruit and vegetables to bring back to our houses. For the rest of the day we stay at our house and watch movies, because we were specifically told to stay on our butts, until dinner for which we went downtown to a pasta/pizza restaurant for some pre race day carbs and also for us to have some good team fun and laughs. We then stopped at a small super market to grab a treat and head back to our houses for a team meeting and to sleep!

Day 9 – June 26th, 2018

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

Henley on Thames

Jacob Spiess
Athlete: Jacob Spiess, Three Seat, Men’s B 4+
Year: Sophomore
Hometown: Whitehouse, OH
I chose Grand Valley because: I met the team at a regatta and visited GV. I loved The school and decided to go here.
If I could tell my incoming teammates one thing, it would be: If you do the same thing everybody else does, you’ll never get faster than anybody. The extra effort is what makes winners succeed.

Today would probably go down as my most well-traveled day so far. I started off the day waking up in the 5-star Limneon Resort in Kastoria, Greece. At 4a.m. we all woke up and prepared for the journey ahead. The first trip was a bus ride to the same airport we arrived into Greece. After flying to Istanbul again we took another flight to the London-Heathrow airport we also went through on our way to Greece. However, the reason for this being my most traveled day in history is the not only did I travel through the country sides and mountains of Greece but we also drove through the farmland and such of England as we finally head to Henley, the reason we started this trip.

Finally, after a long bus ride, two plane rides and another bus ride later we finally arrived in Henley at the course. The sight took my breathe away as the sun stretched over the Thames River and the water was perfect for practicing. After we settled into the housing we went to the race course and saw the boats we rented for the racing. I knew we were getting brand new boats but it was also exciting seeing it for the first time. The slides were unused, seats unstrained by rowers past. We were so excited to get out on the water that we hurried through the rigging and the oars and finally got out on the water.

Today was something I’m going to remember for a long time. Having to leave Greece was sad but being in Henley was something else. Being a rower for as long as I have you tend to appreciate an area where rowing is part of the culture (probably why regattas seem so fun). Here the whole place just screams rowing tradition, culture and experience that many are not so fortunate to experience. I am looking forward to the following days with immense optimism and excitement not only for the racing but the entire Henley experience.

Traveling day in Greek aiport

Allyson Hicks
Athlete: Allyson Hicks, Bow Seat, Women’s Spare 2-
Year: Junior
Hometown: Holland, MI
I chose Grand Valley because: it has a wide variety of major/course options, which was helpful for someone who came in Undecided. GV was the biggest school that I looked at, but it was able to have the offerings of a big school with the small school feel.
If I could tell my incoming teammates one thing, it would be: rowing is going to teach you a lot more about life than you’d expect, and it’s a great way to find your niche on campus.

Today was one of those days that seems to never end: a travel day! We woke up this morning in Greece at 4:00am, and had the bus loaded and headed for the airport by 5:00. The resort graciously provided us with a meal for during our travel which was certainly appreciated by all of us. Most of us slept during the bus ride to the airport, and were therefore well rested for yet another thrilling round of checking bags and going through security.

Our flights to Istanbul and London both went well, with an added bonus of birthday girl Jessie Hasenau getting a gift of personalized headphones from the airline! We arrived at Heathrow with a fun blend of exhaustion and excitement, not really noticing the two hour time shift. From the airport, we all loaded into a bus that took us to our respective housing assignments (after some shuffling to figure out who went where). We got ourselves settled, and headed for the course.

Once at the course, it was a cluster of figuring out who was rowing which boat, and the oars all had to be adjusted. It took some time (and some more shuffling) and then we were able to launch. Emily Gilbert and I used the same pair that the men did. This meant that we had to spend some time on land, walking the course while we waited for our boat that was on the water. Using the men’s boat also meant that we did our Henley course as our first time in a starboard stroke lineup. It went very well, and being able to row down a course that I had only seen previously on livestreams was a great experience.

We rounded out the day with a large group that all went out to dinner together to refuel, something that was necessary on a day’s diet of airplane food. A step beyond just satisfied, we all returned to our homes for the next couple of weeks, ready to get some rest for the day ahead. We’re all excited to see what the next couple of weeks will hold!






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