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Sunday, June 19th


Athlete: Jessie Hasenau
Year & Major: Freshman, Exercise Science
Hometown: Livonia, MI
High School: Ladywood High School

This Sunday morning we hopped on the early train and had the chance to tour the prestigious Leander Boat Club, the oldest boat club in the world! It was very eye opening to see how the athletes live and train there and the mentality instilled in everyone to strive for Olympic gold. Their eating quarters had an exact food plans on huge posters, which timed out for each meal catered to heavyweight men and another fully detailed plan for women and lightweight men. As we entered the training room we saw more very large posters detailing workout plans for the athletes.

I found it very interesting to see that the academy program team trains for about 17 hours a week and the international program trains about 24 hours per week. The intensity of each training session along with the mileage and time shows how much strength it takes mentally and physically to be at the level that Leander rowers aspire to have. This was very inspiring for the Laker Navy as we made it this far to Henley and now we can look forward to building an even faster team next year.

Later we grabbed a seat next to the race course and watched Princeton’s race and a few others before heading off to the train station for Windsor. The Windsor Castle was much larger than I imagined and the Queen was even home! We had a great time touring the grounds and finding the secret tunnels (yes those actually exist!). Another fun fact; the guards really do not move or smile for your picture.

One last day here in England and I’m not ready to end this amazing experience. As a novice I could not be more grateful for such an opportunity to row in the Henley with such a strong group of women. Looking forward three years, I cannot wait to see the 8+ we can have for the next Henley.

Cheers!


Saturday, June 18th


Athlete: Ellie Peebles
Year & Major: Junior, Exercise Science
Hometown: Eastbourne, UK, MI

Today was a good day waking up peacefully with no alarm. We all deserved to sleep in. I went downstairs and enjoyed a nice brunch in the kitchen, slowly everyone grouped to discuss the plan for the day. We agreed we would relax around the house for the rest of the morning, have lunch and head into Henley around 1.

When we arrived at Henley we went to the local antique fair at which I ended up buying a unique piece of jewelry. The girls also bought other bits for presents for friends and family. We slowly wandered over the bridge towards the race course to watch the races of the teams who had advanced in our bracket. It would have been great to have another race however it was also a good time experiencing the regatta from a spectators perspective.

We walked around the food and clothing tents enjoying ice cream and a lovely glass of my favorite beverage. We sat down on the river bank and watched Princeton and Thames Rowing Club race – Princeton won.

Afterwards we headed back into Henley- it was Pimms o’ clock so we headed to a pub with a garden that over looked the river. It was a beautiful view.

Later that afternoon we explored some vintage book stores and a few boutiques. After dinner we headed back to the house in Shiplake to freshen up for an evening in Henley.

All the girls headed to a lovely pub where we squeezed around a small outside table- the garden was lit by Christmas lights. It looked amazing, the atmosphere was a lot of fun. We reminisced about the amazing times we’ve had together as a crew, all of the adventures we have been on and how fortunate we are to be here together. It was a night with great company filled with laughter, happiness and some great dance moves.

Tomorrow the Chairman of Leander, Ivor Lloyd, will be showing us around Leander Club.


Friday, June 17th


Athlete: Sarah Loughman
Year & Major: Freshman, Undecided
Hometown: Saline, MI
High School: Saline High School

Race day… Everyone woke up this morning with butterflies in their stomachs. None of us have ever been a part of something so big. I woke up at 8 am, went downstairs and ate breakfast. We waited around until 10:30 am, hopped in the vans and went into Henley to the race course.

After a brief jog and a team stretch we launched to the starting line. This race is different from any I’ve ever been in before; the officials line up 2 boats at a time and send you down a very narrow course. When we’re sitting at the start you can feel the energy in the boat, everyone was itching to go; this is what we’ve all been working towards for the entire season.

The red flag goes and we’re off, we started out with a really strong start and kept with the team next to us, Thames Rowing Club.

Out of the corner of my eye I see them start to pull away from us but that did not effect the energy of the boat, we stayed long and strong. Even though we fell short, I’m so proud of my team and of myself. I never though that 4 years ago when I started rowing that it could take me all the way to England to row with such an amazing group of girls.

After we left the course, we all came back to the house. Some of the other girls and I took a quick swim in the pool and had a nice rest. Later that night Coach B. taught all of us how to make Italian meatballs with his recipe, we all made dinner together and had a very nice team meal to celebrate our race.

We spent the rest of our night hanging out and celebrating our big personal victory and we’re looking forward to going back into Henley and experiencing the rest of the regatta tomorrow.

Cheers everyone!


Athlete:Cassidy Bruins
Year & Major: Sophmore, Athletic Training
Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO
High School: Lakeland High School

Welcome back to the adventures of the Laker Navy. This is Cass, here with a report of the Laker Navy’s race day at Henley!

Today was the day we have all been waiting for. The day us novices never thought would happen. The day that seemed so surreal months ago, even a few days ago. Race day.

The morning started fairly early for the 8+ but even earlier for the double, who raced at 10am. We watched the live stream of them and were very proud of their performance. We got to the course and did our on-land warm up per usual. While the course was insanely hectic and jam-packed with boats going every which way, the focus and energy on the course was nothing less than exhilarating. You could feel the passion coming off of the rowers as they walked past, and it was so inspiring.

My nerves were through the roof as we got on the water. We did a few practice sprints in the short warm up area on the water before the race. I won’t lie, I wanted to cry at the start line – I don’t know why; maybe happiness, nerves, fear, passion. Maybe all of the above.

And just like that we started.

I don’t remember much of the race. The level of focus was high and I was in the zone. I sure did hear Coach B yelling on the docks when we passed though.

And just like that it was over. At the finish line we all laughed a bit and kept on our huge smiles because that was the fastest the women’s boat has ever gone in our lives. And while the other boat has about a length on us, we didn’t care. We rowed the best, fastest race any of us have ever have been a part of. I can say that I am so proud of these ladies and all of our hard work did not go to waste. Being a part of the Laker Navy for just about 9 months and rowing internationally has been so amazing and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.

After the race we all went back to the house and made meatballs and pasta with Coach. It was quite entertaining and I enjoyed smooshing my hands around in the batter and rolling them up. Dinner was great and the laughs and memories that came with it were even better.

We are ending the night together as a team, more than ready for some sleep with no alarms to set for the morning. And I can say that my teammate’s, coaches, and I are very proud to be on the Grand Valley
crew today.

Go Lakers


Thursday, June 16th


Athlete: Brittany Gronda
Year & Major: Junior, Advertisement & Public Relations
Hometown: Tawas, MI
High School: Tawas Area High School

Guess what Laker Navy, TOMORROW IS RACE DAY!!

Hard to believe though, it has crept up so fast! In preparation, we had a two hour practice to work on starts and power strokes. During one of our pieces we had a “brush” (a mini race) against a crew from Edinburgh, Scottland! It was a neat experience!

On our drive home Coach B. made a quick stop by a downtown market and allowed us to explore for a half hour. Most of us found a little something to buy. Once we arrived back at the house lunch was made and then we began getting ready for the Women’s Henley Reception. Everyone looked gorgeous in their dresses! It seems like a rare occasion when we are all able to get together and not be wearing spandex.

We arrived at the venue early to conduct an interview with someone from the Women’s Henley media crew. We told them about our team and the experiences we’ve had thus far. We then proceeded upstairs to the Rowing Museum for the Women’s Henley Welcome Reception.

We heard a speech from the women’s 8 coxswain for Oxford who raced in the 2016 Oxford vs. Cambridge race. A very intriguing speech hearing about her rowing experiences. We are now ending the night at The Catherine Wheel for a nice pre-race meal! The team and I are very excited for the once in a lifetime experience we are all about to have tomorrow racing in such a prestigious regatta.

Cheerio!


Athlete: Christina Pavano
Year & Major: Senior, Psychology
Hometown: Rockford, MI
High School: Rockford High School

What an exciting day it’s been today!

We had a nice start to our morning and got to sleep in a little bit! We left for the course around 10am to get our last practice in before racing starts tomorrow. Half of us took the train and the other half hopped in the van with Coach B to get to the course. As soon as everyone arrived, we got on the water! During practice, we got to brush (1 minute piece) again Edinburgh. It was a really awesome experience to have had a very mini race against a team from Scotland. I think it also got some of the nerves out for tomorrow!

After we finished practice and on the way home, we passed by a market that was happening right in the heart of Henley. Coach gave us a half hour to look around and shop! After, we went home and had some lunch. We had an event to go to tonight at the Henley rowing museum so after lunch, everyone quickly showered and started getting ready.

The Women’s Henley Reception started at 6. We arrived a little early because someone from the media crew wanted to interview us. Brittany and Emily were the key speakers of the interview and then Ellie had her own separate interview. We all thought it was crazy that they wanted to interview us (in a good way!).

After the interviews we made our way upstairs to check out the museum and do some mingling with the other crews! It was interesting talking to everyone and learn about where they are from! The event also had a speaker. Her name was Morgan, a coxswain from Oxford. She told us her story about her coxing career and how she got started.

We are now currently finishing up dinner at a local restaurant called The Catherine Wheel. Let me just say, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. We’ll be making our way back home soon to rest up for our races tomorrow!

Don’t forget to tune into the live stream this weekend!


Wednesday, June 15th


Athlete: Amy Anderson
Year & Major: Sophmore, Therapeutic Recreation, Pre-OT
Hometown: Okemos, MI
High School: Okemos High School

Today I got to spend my Birthday on the Henley Regatta course! Some of the girls took the train and walked on the path, while I went with the coaches and a couple teammates to pick up the oars from the Upper Thames Rowing Club’s boathouse on the river.

In the Hudson boat that we are borrowing, we took two laps of the racecourse with a little speed work, and a lot of distracted rowers who were overly excited to finally be on the course that we have been training for. It was great to get to see the other crews from all over England.

After our morning practice we ate our packed picnic lunches and walked into town for some exploring. Some of us came across an antique store which had lots of fancy teacups and just about everything else you would imagine you might find in England. I even found an old slate sign labeled “Grand Stand” from a previous Henley Royal Regatta. If it was not so extremely heavy I could have brought it home with me!

We headed back to the regatta site for another couple laps of the racecourse with our freshly taped oars. Coach Allison and Coach Michelle put our Grand Valley design onto the oars while we were at lunch, which made the boat feel much more like it was our own.

Back at the house, a few of the girls recooked pasta from last night and added some parmesan cheese and more pasta sauce. We also had homemade garlic bread… my favorite! During dinner the girls supersized Faith and myself with bright pink, sparkly birthday cakes decorated with flowers and lots of candles. Although pink isn’t my choice of color, it was exploding with flavors of lemon, strawberry, chocolate and vanilla.

I am happy to be here with such a wonderful group of people.


Athlete: Jessie Hasenau
Year & Major: Freshman, Exercise Science
Hometown: Livonia, MI
High School: Ladywood High School

Checking in on day six here in Henley!

This morning we set our alarms for 7:30am, and many hit the snooze, until we had our unexpected brisk jog to the train station with bagel in hand. Today was our first practice on the race course. Our new boat and oars were waiting for us when we arrived, bright white with not a scratch, and our slides were magical-feeling with the cleanest recovery I’ve ever experienced in my short rowing career this year.

Afterwards we took a lunch break and walked around the town of Henley. Our team took some time to have a very nice piece of cake at Patisserie Valerie, purchase a much needed screwdriver (which by law you need to show I.D. because you could “just go unscrewing everything” I guess), shopping, explore every street in the small town and finding a lost dog that ended up being not so lost.

After our morning practice we made some adjustments and had an even more successful afternoon practice. Coach Michelle even decked out our oars in Grand Valley stripes, which just reminds me how close race day is. Afterwards the team got back in the van or on the train and headed home for more pasta, because we could not get enough last night, and cake to celebrate Faith and Amy’s birthdays!

One more day of training until race day! Cheers!


Tuesday, June 14th


Athlete: Faith Platz
Year & Major: Sophmore, Statistics/Economics
Hometown: Grand Haven, MI
High School: Grand Haven High School

Happy Tuesday Laker Navy!

It was a strange morning for the Women’s team this morning, as we did not have to set any alarms or wake up early. Especially after a long, awesome day in London yesterday, the extra sleep was much needed and very appreciated (FYI: I highly recommend spending your birthday in London, it is something I will never forget!).

Our host family has been extremely gracious, and the experience of living here is so much more enriching than expected. We spent the morning keeping each other company, braiding hair and enjoying a few stress-free hours of relaxation, not to mention catching up on our lives back home whenever we could get a good wifi signal (Yes Mom, I am fine and I will call you when I can).

In the afternoon, Coach B arrived to the house after a safe flight from the States, and then the real fun began. While the coaches went to the grocery store to stock up on the necessities, we got our workout in, but not exactly a CAT VI swing row. We went for a run around Shiplake where we are staying, past beautiful houses and fields of polo horses. We then came back and did some calisthenics and lots of stretching.

By the time we were all done, Doug and Molly, two of the kids, were back home from school, and they taught us how to play cricket. I’m sure we looked a little ridiculous trying to understand the rules of cricket using baseball analogies, but once we got playing, it was a blast! If rowing doesn’t work out for me, I think I could make a mean cricket bowler :)

Once the food arrived back at the house (oh, and the coaches too), our attention shifted to the kitchen. Coach B had us help him make delicious baked pasta, French baguettes with spices, and a classic spinach dish. With all hands on deck, we made so much food that we will have leftovers to enjoy later. We finished dinner off with some yummy lemon meringue cheesecake.

We were also able to present our host family with some GV swag as a gift for their hospitality. Overall, today was a much needed day of relaxation, along with lots of fun with the team and our hosts. Tomorrow we get the chance to finally row on the Thames, and we are all so excited! But for today, it’s time to hit the hay and rest up for another great day tomorrow.

Cheers!


Athlete: Christina Pavano
Year & Major: Senior, Psychology
Hometown: Rockford, MI
High School: Rockford High School

Day five here in England has been quiet relaxing. Because our boats were being delivered later today, we finally got a chance to sleep in and relax! Since we’ve arrived, we’ve done quite a lot and haven’t got much down time. Though it’s been great to keep moving, row, and see as much as we have, it was nice to have a relaxing morning. Everyone woke up on their own and ate breakfast as they pleased.

The afternoon was spent reading, watching Netflix, resting our legs from our day in London yesterday, and waiting for Coach B to arrive. He arrived around 3 and we gave him a quick tour of the house we’re staying at and then let him get settled. After he got settled, we all sat in the conservatory, ate lunch and filled him in on our adventures this far in the trip.

After lunch, Coach B, Coach Allison, and I went to pick up Coach Michelle, Amy, and Amber at the course. They were there to pick up our boats and get them all set for us to use tomorrow. After the course, we went to a grocery store called Tesco. We needed to pick up groceries for the week. It was quiet interesting shopping and noticing the differences between here and back home. One big thing I noticed was the quantity of the food. At home, there are much larger portions compared to here. With having smaller portions, it was difficult to know how much to buy for such a large group. Overall, our shopping trip went pretty good and we stayed in our budget!

Once we got home from the grocery store, the rest of the team stopped their game of cricket to help us unload the van. After we got everything inside, we started to prep for our dinner. Coach B wanted to show us how to make one of his famous baked pasta dishes. We all rolled up our sleeves and got to work. After everything was all cooked, we sat and had a traditional Italian meal. The end product gets two thumbs up.

We are currently working on cleaning up the kitchen and then heading off to bed so we can get some good sleep for an early morning practice. We are all very excited to get on the water and row on the Thames River and get a feel of what the course will be like.

Hope your Tuesday has been just as relaxing as ours!!


Monday, June 13th


Athlete:Cassidy Bruins
Year & Major: Sophmore, Athletic Training
Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO
High School: Lakeland High School

Welcome aboard the wild ride that was the Lady Lakers’ adventure around London! This is Cass Bruins here to give you a taste of our day. It was at an amazing day for the Laker Navy, for a majority of the team (myself included) it was the first time in this city, and it was also Faith’s birthday!

The weather wasn’t the best for us today, but I guess you could say we got the entire England experience with the usual rain shower every few hours.

We started out the morning bright and early, departing our bed and breakfast house at 7:30am to head for the train station. After about an hour long ride, we arrived at Paddington Station.

Not going to lie, the transportation system here had a few of us doing the “I have no idea where I’m going/zig zag walk while looking all around trying to figure it out” thing, but with Ellie’s guidance we figured it out before the end of the day.

Once we arrived at Paddington Station, we immediately made way to a train to take us to King’s crossing; where we got photos with the famous Harry Potter’s Platform 9&3/4! Most of us were pretty stoked about it, being HP fanatics.

After that, we headed to the Buckingham Palace to take photos, and also start our journey wandering London, not before Christina got shut in a train door, though. It was pretty comical, us girls have brought it up and laughed hysterically at least five times since it happened this morning.

At the palace, you better believe we all yelled “yass Queen” at the front gates, a team inside joke from spring season. There were many photos and laughs shared as we passed monuments, old buildings, and shops that lined the streets. Fortunately, the construction on Big Ben was finished so we got to see it in full, and happened to get there at noon to hear the chime!

We passed the London Eye, and thankfully didn’t end up going on it, seeing as I am terrified of Ferris wheels (but probably would’ve gone on it anyways to stay with the team). We all did our sightseeing, shopping, and of course testing almost every coffee shop we saw. The team inevitably spent too much time and probably money in the Kingdom of Sweets and the souvenir shop, but when in London, right?

We ventured to the London bridge, which was amazing. We strolled in and out of shops back to the train station, to head back to Henley for dinner. When we got to Henley, we went to an Italian restaurant for pizza that was only £5! A great relief for all of us who are “ballin’ on a budget”.

Overall today was an amazing experience that I know we all are going to remember for a lifetime, but now it’s time for us to get some rest, train hard for the rest of the week and as always PULL HARD!


Athlete:Amy Anderson
Year & Major: Junior, Therapeutic Recreation, Pre-OT
Hometown:Okemos, MI
High School: Okemos High School

Greetings, Laker Navy!

Today we started our day off early with a train ride from Henley-on-Thames to Paddington Station in downtown London. We arrived as a group of twelve enthusiastic women, ready to explore as much of the city as we could reach-well, anything that is college-budget friendly.

First stop, coffee of course. We did not even make it out of the train station before getting our much needed dose of caffeine for the day ahead of us. With excitement running high, we quickly found our way to the Harry Potter Platform 9 3/4. Here we posed as if we were going to join Hogwarts ourselves, with a wand and a scarf to tell which “house” we were in.

Next, we were off to the Buckingham Palace. The flag was up which means the Queen was in her palace, unfortunately we did not get to see her. We did get to see the change of guards for the palace which included a flight of uniformed officers on horses who walked in a line around town and on guard. We stopped by the National Museum of Art and found some great pieces of artwork, even a couple that included rowing boats!

We got to know our way around using the bus and underground train system, but we would not have made it far without Ellie, who has been to London many times. The bus took us to a riverside view of the London Tower Bridge, where a few of us stopped for an afternoon ice cream treat. Here we watched lots of boats go by on the river.

We headed back to Henley and finished off the day for dinner at an Italian restaurant, the same restaurant we ate at last night…because on Mondays they have pizza for just £‎5! It was a deal we could not pass up.

It was a great day, full of adventure and memories to last a lifetime.


Sunday, June 12th


Athlete:Maddy Moldenhauer
Year & Major: Sophmore, Geography/Environmental Studies
Hometown: Marysville, MI
High School: Marysville High School

This morning was our last morning at Ellie’s grandparents house. We ate our breakfast in the conservatory (sun room) and left at 7:45am for our first experience with Sea Rowing in Eastbourne. We arrived at the little boathouse in Eastbourne and put the sea boats out into slings. These boats are much different than our normal rowing shells because they are very wide and sturdy to handle the rough waters of the English Channel. These boats were extremely heavy and it took at large group of people to carry them down to the shoreline.

The wind was strong and the sea was rough so we made sure that we listened closely to the instructions that we were given for launching off of the shoreline so that it went as smoothly as possible. As nervous as we were, we were all able to launch from the shore without many problems. We went bow first into the raging waves that crashed into the shoreline and quickly rowed our way out into the sea. The two fours we took out raced back and forth parallel with the shoreline trying to battle the waves and make a sharp 180 degree turn to race back the way we came. The double did great despite the enormous waves.

We all enjoyed this special experience we had sea rowing, but we all got cold fast when the wind and rain picked up. We quickly made our way back to shore. We rode some good waves and actually caught some air off of some of the waves as the water became more choppy as time passed. We got off the water just in time before it started down pouring.

We changed quickly into our warm, dry clothes and thanked all of those at the boathouse that made our morning of sea rowing so enjoyable. Then, we left to go to eat at Beach Deck with Ellie’s family. This restaurant overlooked the sea, so as we ate our delicious brunch, we watched dozens of sailing boats out in the wind and rain on the sea.

We headed back to Ellie’s grandparents house after we were finished with our meal to shower and pack up to leave for the Henley House that we would be staying at for the rest of the time in England. We were very thankful for the opportunity to stay in the small village where Ellie’s grandparents live because it made our stay in England even more special. Once we were all ready and packed, we loaded the vans to head to Henley to stay in the Woodedge Cottage Home. We had a little difficulty finding the house, but the views were wonderful as we drove through the town and countryside.

Once we arrived, we had a very warm welcome from the family and were given delicious cookies and juice. We met the parents (Debbie & Tom) and the children (Douglas, Molly, and Sophie). They also have a dog named Coco. Then we unloaded the vans and got a nice tour of the home. It is a spectacular house with wonderful gardens, a pool, and plenty of rooms to house all of the team. We are all very excited to be staying there with such a nice and generous family. They told us everything we needed to know about the house and riding the train into Henley.

We took the train into Henley and are currently eating at an Italian restaurant named Strada. Ellie’s parents and the coaches ended up joining us not long after we got the table. The food is delicious and we plan on coming back again during the week. We are planning on walking around Henley for the night and catching the last train back to the cottage. Tomorrow we are excited about spending the day in London before resuming our practices in preparation for the Henley rowing competition on Friday.

Athlete:Libby Bradt
Year & Major: Sophmore, General Buisness
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI
High School: Forest Hills Central

Today was an adventure and many things were learned. It started out with waking up earlier than many of us wanted to. As people start to move we head to the kitchen for our last breakfast at Ellie’s Grandparents house. Knowing that we had to be ready to leave at 7:45 am, we all hurry to head out the door. Girls were eating the last of the breakfast items in the kitchen, including bagels, toasts, and yogurt.

Not knowing what we actually needed to wear for our first attempt at coastal rowing, everyone was shouting out to Ellie, “what should we wear again?!” She replied with: “spandex that you wear for practice normally and a tank!” Apparently, the less clothing you wear the better. It was comforting to know that we could change after rowing in the sea.

Loading up the van and checking the time we somehow managed to leave on time. We stopped at the hotel that the coaches were staying at to pick them and their luggage for the last time there. Then we traveled to the Eastbourne Rowing Club for our lesson in coastal rowing. This is the club that Ellie used to row for. It was nice to have that experience and understand where she started out her rowing career.

We got our boats and after a quick lesson (with the help of some of the rowers that are from the club), we launched out into the sea. I launched out in the coastal double with Faith not knowing what to expect. We thought that for sure that we would flip for the first time ever. Nervously we took our first strokes together and realize how much fun it was and how much we loved it. Not trying to keep up with the fours we just focused on not running into the shore and flipping. After a while we head back in (with help again) to carry the boat out of the sea.

After saying thank you to the club members we headed back to Ellie’s Grandparents house for the last time to shower and pack our things for the Henley House. Leaving the house around 2:30 PM, we head for the house on Henley in a van for 2 hours. We arrive in the lower Shiplake area and we try to find the bed and breakfast. We head down the wrong road, finding some beautiful areas, and turned around and headed back to the main road. Finally we find the the right road and find the house.

We drive up the drive way to this amazing place. We meet the wonderful family that runs the house and set ourselves up in our rooms. We meet up with each other in one of the rooms to figure out where to eat dinner. After deciding on Italian as what we wanted, we made reservations. We head off in the train to town to enjoy our dinner.

What a busy day! I am signing off for now as we get back to the house for bed.


Saturday, June 11


Athlete:Emily Koons
Year & Major: Sophmore, Business
Hometown: East Lansing, MI
High School: Okemos High

Hello Laker Navy!

This is E. Koons reporting to you from Hailsham, England where I have so far spent my very first hours abroad. The hospitality we have experienced from the Peebles’ family and friends has been incredible: we arrived to made beds and blown up mattresses, kitchen counters and fridge full of food, and a delicious cook-out on the beach at Ellie’s coastal rowing club’s boathouse. We can’t thank them enough for how wonderful and welcoming they have all been!

Today after our practice on a small irrigation creek with a field of sheep on one side and a field of cows on the other, we exchanged our dollars for English pounds at Hailsham’s post office. It’s not very fun to hand over two hundred dollars in bills and only get a hundred and twenty three in return, let me tell you, but our moods lightened when we walked past an aisle of chocolate and saw that the prices were listed around sixty pents.

I am currently writing to you from the van as we make our way to the Beachy Head
Pub. A baby lamb has just approached us on the narrow road somewhere along England’s many hills, and we followed it up the street until it hopped the fence into the field it must have originally escaped from.

Back from dinner, we ate in the group room that overlooks the rolling hills and the English Channel at Beachy Head. It was a beautiful pub, but not very pub-like at all, rather vintage and rustic. We watched the sunset accompanied with excellent food like Goat’s Cheese Butternut Squash Tarts and Roasted Chicken with Shepherds Pie.

Tomorrow we are going to try coastal rowing which, I have been told, is bound to end in someone capsizing into delightfully (or not so delightfully) brisk sea water. I’m very much looking forward to the experience, as well as the rest of the trip!

Over and out! Love a very tired and jet lagged E. Koons.

Athlete:Amber Crotty
Year & Major: Junior, Physican’s Assistant
Hometown: Fruitport, MI
High School: Fruitport High

Second day in England!

Woke up at 8 AM and headed out to practice. This morning we did five seven-hundred meter pieces on the water. The space was pretty tight, so it was hard to have two boats side by side racing.

After our practice and our expensive exchange of currency experience, we headed back to Ellie’s for our brief wifi fix. We watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs with Ellie’s sisters. It rained briefly but cleared up right before practice.

We enjoyed an hour long swing row. During the practice we came across sheep and cows starring intensely at us on the river. We stopped to “moo” briefly at them, and watched while one ran into a fence. Ultimately getting its head stuck.

After practice we hurried home to quickly change and shower. We had dinner reservations at a restaurant that Ellie’s parents knew of. A baby lamb was lost in the middle of the road, some of the girls tried to steer it away, but it ran down the road directly in front of us.

The restaurant was located on a hillside over a town and ocean. After having another photo-op we sat down and ate delicious food. Still suffering from some brief jet-leg but enjoying every minute that the team is here.


Friday, June 10th

Athlete: Ellie Peebles
Year & Major: Junior, Exercise Science
Hometown: Eastbourne, UK, MI

This morning was bit of a blur, landing at London Heathrow at the local time of 7:30 AM but MI time of 2:30 AM. On the flight most of us crashed for a couple hours after dinner was served. My mum and step-dad, Katie and Duncan Sansom met us at arrivals. It was emotional seeing my parents after months of being apart, I was looking forward to seeing them. Once we had our hire vans we drove to my grandparents house in Hailsham (the South East of England) which was about a 2 hour drive.

Opening the door into my grandparents house with my fellow team mates felt amazing. I think at that point the reality of having the team and being back at a place full of so many memories hit me with pure joy. I knew at that point these 12 days were going to be an incredible experience.

Fortunately my brother Liam Peebles was a huge help and had set up all 12 sleeping arrangements. So we had time to relax for about an hour before we headed to the ‘Wallers’ (the river) for our swing on row in 4’s and a double.

The Wallers is where I learnt to row, compared to MI the Wallers is a tiny stretch of a total of around 3k, which include tight bends. However, people who often use this stretch are very effective with using what they have. The warm up, rowing by pairs at swing pick up the river, gave me time to look around and remind myself of all the fond memories of my previous year’s of training there. Honestly it had been about 4 years since I had rowed on that stretch and it felt great being back, especially with my GV girls.

After the row, we headed back and freshened up for the BBQ on the beach which was held by Eastbourne Rowing Club at their Boathouse on the seafront. Pulling up to the club, it was decorated with banners, tents were up and the BBQ was cooking. For myself being able to show the GV girls the boat house and the pebbly beach was awesome because they could finally visualize what I had been talking about the past 9 months! Getting to see previous teams mates, coaches and people of the South Coast rowing community was again a lovely moment. With the sun setting over the sea we spent the evening eating delicious food with great company.

To finish the evening Lesley Baker presented us with little gifts from Eastbourne Rowing Club- a hat with their colours, a badge and British candy (stick rock). I know myself and the GV ladies felt so thankful to have such a warm greeting from ERC and would like to thank them for their hospitality.

I know jet lag is kicking in for a lot of the girls so we are heading to bed to prepare for our double practice tomorrow.

What a great first day it’s been here back home in England.

Athlete: Faith Platz
Year & Major: Sophmore, Statistics/Economics
Hometown: Grand Haven, MI
High School: Grand Haven High

For the majority of the second day of our international journey, everyone was really getting a good understanding of the effects of jet lag. We finally touched down in London at around 7:30am, which felt to us Michiganders like it was 2:30am. Even so, we were all super excited to have made it to England, especially Ellie, who finally made it back to her home country after a school year abroad in the U.S.

After an eventful and lengthy process of getting through customs (which included a geyser of a bloody nose by Emily Koons while in line), we were off to our first British destination – Ellie Peebles’ grandparents’ house, our home for the next few days. Her family has been so gracious and accommodating with us here and we are so grateful for the chance to spend time with them (especially Ellie’s little sisters, who have the most adorable British accents).

In the afternoon, we went for a short swing row at Ellie’s old river boat club, and then headed to Eastbourne Boat Club, another place she used to row, where members of the club held a barbecue for us by the sea.

It was a great time to enjoy each other’s company and meet some people that Ellie rowed with back in the day. Despite everyone’s exhaustion all day, it turned out to be a beautiful day and we look forward to sleeping lots tonight to rest up for tomorrow!


Thursday, June 9th

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Athlete: Amber Crotty
Year & Major: Junior, Physcian’s Assistant
Hometown: Fruitport, MI
High School: Fruitport Community High

Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for, the women are on their way to ENGLAND! Started the day off waking up at 4am to load the van at 5am, departing to Chicago. The van ride consisted of excited chatter of England, laughter (we all looked like blueberries), and tasty donuts. We arrived a little over an hour early for our flight to New York. This was my first time ever in an airport and flying on an airplane. Fortunately, I had experienced teammates.

To my suprise, I out that I was one of the lucky two that had “TSA fast passes” through security. Although, I had to go through the extra screening process anyways because of my suspicious demeanor. Faith and I waited for our teammates patiently by the boarding gate. Once everyone was present, we (mainly me) was forced into a photo shoot. The women took several pictures in front of the planes through the windows, by our luggage and by our boarding information/airport signs.

Our flight was finally called up to board. The girls lined up next to the boarding gate, while Coach Michelle took pictures of us (while crying hysterically). Somehow the flight attendants found out that it was my first time on the plane. After announcing the basic flight information and welcoming the team aboard the plane, everyone clapped and cheered for my first time. Before taking off, one of the flight attendants made sure that I was buckled in correctly, given that I was a “newbie”. The engines roared and we ascended into the clouds.

Before landing, I was given my little silver wings (because I survived) and was invited to sit in the cockpit. After landing, the team dispersed like hungry beasts throughout the airport for food. We are currently waiting for our flight to London, which departs at 7:30pm.

I’m excited to check another life event off the list and leave the country for the first time. England here we come!


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