Spring Break Training 2017

Trip Wrap-Up/Day 8 – March 11th

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

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


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

Day 7 – March 10th


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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

Day 6 – March 9th

GVSU joining Georgetown University for 1,000 meter pieces.

Posted by John Bancheri on Thursday, March 9, 2017

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Day 5 – March 8th

Amber Crotty Coxswain

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

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

Varsity men in fours and an eight

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

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

Chalk talk

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

Day 4 – March 7th

American Museum of Science

Shelby Nesbitt
Major: Behavioral Neuroscience
Hometown: Commerce, MI
Today started off with an early wake up call of 6:15am. Coach wanted to have an earlier practice than usual in order to beat the impending thunderstorms that were to come later today. After some breakfast and much needed coffee, we were off to the course. The women were split into two eights of equal speed in order to redo some seat racing during the first part of practice. Following this, the lineups were reconfigured based on the results and we launched for a much needed long steady-state row.

After some lunch it was back to the hotel to get cleaned up for our afternoon adventure; the American Museum of Science & Energy! It’s a museum located right here in Oak Ridge that educates people on the science behind our energy resources and the history of Oak Ridge’s role in building the atomic bomb for World War II. We got to see a demonstration of a Van de Graaff generator, which creates static electricity and when you put your hand on it your hair stands straight up! It was a very cool experience and I enjoyed learning more about the town of Oak Ridge. For dinner the team was treated to a buffet of food at Golden Oak and after several plates of food each, we headed back to the hotel to wind down for the night. It’s been a great first couple days back on the water and I’m excited to see how the team improves as the trip continues!

Varsity Men finding the balance

Simon Klida
Major: Athletic Training
Hometown: Auburn, MI
This morning started out a little earlier than normal. We left for practice at 7
am to avoid the potential thunderstorm that was supposed to hit today. I woke up at 6 and ate a big breakfast at the hotel. The practice started with two fours and an eight. We ended up having some surprise racing. Luckily the rain and storming did not hit us and even though it was very difficult it was a good practice. We took it in and coach decided to have us go back out after a thirty-minute break instead of waiting until the afternoon. This may not seem like a good thing at first, but the storm was now supposed to hit in the afternoon and coach said he would take us to the American Museum of Science and Energy if we had practice now. So after a short break we went back out for some steady state rowing with some technical work. I continued to develop my stroke and have really been feeling myself improve during the technical practices. The wind really started to pick up but the storm still did not hit us.

After the practices I took a dip in the pool at the hotel and soaked for a while
in the hot tub, which felt amazing. After that I had just enough time for a nap before it was time for the museum. The museum was very cool and we got to learn a ton about the city of Oak Ridge and its importance in the Manhattan project. We also just had a lot of fun playing with the different science exhibits. We even had a demonstration put on for us where we got to play around with some electricity and watch peoples hair stand up. After the museum we all went and got an all you can eat Chinese buffet. It was really great and fun to watch 52 rowers demolish a buffet. Now it is time to get ready for bed so that I can be energized for tomorrows row.

Novice women going through bridge

Melissa Frank
Major: Biology/Chemistry
Hometown: Oswego, IL
Grand Valley Rowing woke up bright and early this morning ready for our fourth day in Tennessee! The team sat down to eat breakfast today bright and early at 6 am today to prepare for the long row ahead. We then headed out to the boat house in Oak Ridge.

When we arrived, after dealing with a light rain, we got in our line ups and got in our boats for the first part of morning practice. We started of with a seat race, and then moved into technical rowing. We went back to the basics today and focused on rowing with the feather. After that we went back to the boat house to switch the line up and then headed out again for a steady state row, where we rowed by eights for 3 minutes and sixes for 1 minute. I really enjoyed today’s practice even though the condition were not great. After practice we sat down for a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, banana, and my favorite, Goldfish.

After that the team headed back to the hotel to quickly shower and head out to the American Museum of Science and Energy. A museum tour guide taught us about Oak Ridge and how it came to be. Following that she allowed us to play with an electrostatic generator, that made our hair stand up. It was really funny to see my teammates play around with it.

When we left the museum, we loaded back up into the vans to go to a buffet, and then headed back to the hotel for a night of relaxation. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week has in store for Grand Valley Rowing!

Day 3 – March 6th

Tiffany Curtis
Hometown: Downer’s Grove, IL
Major: Criminal Justice
Hello all! It’s been one heck of a day out in Oak Ridge today. We began with a team meeting in the hotel lobby to discuss blade work and concepts such as “the 41” and “the rollback”. Upon arriving at the course, we received a chalk talk which gave visuals of the blade work technique discussed back at the hotel.

On the water, the women spent the first half of time doing a steady state row by 6’s on the feather. When we turned around to head back down stream we began the “post card” drill. This drill consists of starting with just one pair of rowers in and gradually adding in a pair until all 8 are rowing. During this drill you could really feel the increase in the speed of the drive as each pair added in. The women kept their focus sharp and their power high. After this practice we ate lunch at the course and then headed back to the hotel to rest up for our second practice which would take place at 4pm.

Second practice today was dedicated to seat racing for the entire team. This was accomplished by going through a 1250m course six different times. The rowers’ line ups were changed after each race in order to try to figure out who makes their boat faster. This process will help determine our official line ups for later on.

There were some technical difficulties throughout the races; however, this did not stop the team from persevering. The racing really tuckered everyone out, but the women did a good job of trying to keep positive. Now it’s off to bed, in order to prepare for another full day of rowing tomorrow.

Karissa Cloud Men's eight and four
Karissa Cloud
Hometown: Ada, MI
Major: Speech Language Pathology
This morning I woke up well rested to have a nice breakfast. Before we left for the course we had a team meeting with Coach B in the lobby to wait out some rain. First we grabbed our goal cards from our training packet and filled them out. My personal athletic goal is to be able to coach each blade to perfection and also to win our race at The San Diego Crew Classic.

Next, Coach went over the details of bladework and how to get the most out of each stroke by accurately controlling the blade. As the rain lightened up we traveled to the course. Once there, we set up a four on a dock to use as demonstration. With a rower in the boat as example, coach revisited the idea of blade work into the catch and out of the release. It was nice to have a live example so I could visualize all of the words and information Coach has told us.

After a nice technical row building up our bladework, it was time to come in and eat lunch. I had a peanut butter and jelly and sat with some of the other varsity guys I do not get to see that often. It is always nice to catch up with everyone who is not in my boat and see how they’re doing. Once back at the hotel, I laid down and immediately fell asleep. Before I knew it, I had to pack up and get ready for the next practice. After a quick coxswain and coach “pow-wow” in the lobby, it was determined that our practice plan changed and we were going to do seat racing for the afternoon.

I really like seat racing because it can show me who works well together and where the issues within the boat are. Although, the hardest part on my end is that I can not really do anything other than steer the boat straight. The point of a coxswain is to encourage and help the boat so it was difficult to hold my tongue when I wanted to push my guys. Either way, six races later, the sun had set and it was time to come in.

I finished my evening at a restaurant next to the hotel called “The Cook Out”. I had a cheese burger and a chocolate milk shake. Definitely rewarding after a long day. I am excited to see what the rest of this week will bring and I am enjoying the sun while it lasts.

Ryan Overholt
Ryan Overholt
Hometown: Naperville, IL
Major: Information Systems
Great day in Tennessee! Today we started the day out with breakfast at the hotel again. Coach B talked with us there about feathering at the catch and at the finish. We continued this with a demonstration on the water which was really helpful to see it being done in person. Then the novice boats went out for a nice long row down river, doing tons of drills with Coach Costas.

Again, we focused on drills feathering at the catch, so that we can get the maximum efficiency out of our stroke. After a couple hours, we ate some sandwiches and went back to the hotel. I spent the afternoon resting. The second practice was really fun. We finally did some strokes in anger with all eight rowers.

Even if the boat was not perfect, it felt really good to be going fast after the long winter season. The varsity was doing seat racing so we had an extra long row, finishing just after dark. After two nice long rows, I think I’ll be in bed at nine! I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring!

Novice women and varsity women
Diana Bullen
Hometown: Clarkston, MI
Major: Geology
Hello from Tennessee! Today was our third day on the Clinch River for this wonderful spring break trip. We woke up around 7am and enjoyed breakfast at the hotel before Coach B gave an invigorating speech about the importance of bladework, highlighting how in order to be successful at higher stroke rates we must first master it at the lower ones. We then left for the course. I had the pleasure of coxing the Novice Men who participated in several drills that implemented Coach B’s idea talked about earlier that morning. We ate lunch at the course (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!) before heading back to the hotel to relax and mentally prepare for the seat races that would take place that

The team left for the afternoon practice at 3:30. The seat races we did were 1250 meters in length. The women’s team, who I coxed for this practice, sent out two eights while the men had four men’s fours. You could see the work all the rowers put in on the erg and over winter season with the power that they used to move the boat forward. The wind that picked up as we moved through the six pieces did not deter them from the goal they had set in their mind and they continued to improve with every stroke. I’m very excited to see how the rest of this week progresses and can’t wait to learn even more about the sport of rowing.

Day 2 – March 5th

Varsity Men

Drew Vielbig
Hometown: Fowlerville, MI
Major: Finance
Another productive day in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. We woke up this morning for breakfast a little after 7, and left for the course at 8. For our morning practice, we embarked on a 20k row upstream. Throughout the row, we focused on rowing with our feet out of the foot stretcher, which became a pretty intense task to focus on.

After our row, we returned and ate team lunch, then left for the hotel. This afternoon in between practices, I hung up a hammock and read a book outside before dozing off for an hour. We returned for afternoon practice at around 4pm for a chalk talk. This was focused on rowing on the feather, and all of the technique associated with it. After around 20 minutes, we took to the water and started going through drills, eventually building up until we were rowing on the feather by pairs. By the time we were back on the race course near the end of practice, we were rowing by all four at race pace. It felt good to finally return to high-intensity rowing after a long winter season. We left the rowing center at around 6pm and returned to the hotel and broke off into groups to go find dinner.

After day two of spring break, my hands are blistered, my legs are sore, and I am going to bed at 10 pm because I will wake up tomorrow and do it all over again! What a day, what a day.

Novice women

Rachel Keller
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Major: Exercise Science
Hello from Tennessee!! Beautiful day for the laker navy! We started our day off bright and early with breakfast at the hotel. Then we took the scenic van drive to the course where we had a nice 90 minute technical row in fours. We did some battle paddle rowing which is where the goal is to pull really hard and out pull your pair partner. The temperature was beautiful and despite many logs and tree branches, we had a very smooth course.

We went back to the hotel where we enjoyed a relaxing break before our next practice. Our next practice started at 4pm and after a chalk talk from Coach B, we started our practice. We were all excited for this practice because we started working on feathering ! Woo hoo! After an hour and a half on the water and some fresh new blisters, we docked and headed back to the hotel for the night. A good night’s sleep is in store for the laker navy and another hard day of practice planned for tomorrow!

Adam Parker Novice

Adam Parker
Hometown: MI
Major: Exercise Science
Waking up for practice today was interesting. The weather was going to be beautiful and warm for a day of rowing, which always gives me a shot of energy and enthusiasm, I was going to row in a four with varsity members, and I was sore from the famous Darth Vader Row the day before. Regardless, I was excited to see what the day was going to bring. Rowing in fours has quickly become my favorite as opposed to the eights, so I was looking forward to practice on the water today. It took us a little while to get started because of the chalk talk, but I’m glad we did it because I feel like I’m learning the feathering all over again. I felt like I forgot pretty much everything from the fall because it has been so long since we last even talked about feathering.

The am practice was nice, rowing up to about halfway to the bridge, working on our technique a bit. I was trying to focus more on my blade depth, and trying not to “kill fish”, and I felt like I was successful. Weather allowed for a nice hammock session before we started the pm workout session, which was even more interesting. Cam had to cox for us the majority of the workout, and it actually worked out quite well. I was able to keep in time with Nelly behind me and the other rowers. I’m getting more and more comfortable with spring break training already. I can get use to the routine it’s created, and am looking forward to tomorrows practice to start off the next week.

Paige White

Paige White
Hometown: MI
Major: Exercise Science
Our second day in Oak Ridge Tennessee started off with the women’s team all going out in fours to do some battle paddle and technical drills. I was in a mixed novice and varsity four so the competition was up and it was just a really good and efficient practice. My four had a lot of fun having Coach B’s son Eric as our coxswain who did an awesome job. The weather was absolutely amazing to row in and the scenery around the river is stunning. After eating lunch at the course we came back to the hotel for sleeping/ hot tubbing/ hammock laying, whatever you wanted really.

Heading off to the course for the second practice of the day the women’s team rowed with two mixed novice/ varsity eights. Our main focus of this practice was breaking down everything and finally adding the feather back in. It was a nice practice to end the day with.

With this being my first year rowing I really didn’t know what to expect from this trip but other then dying from two a day practice it has been a lot of fun so far. I feel like the novice women have come so far already and this trip is going to push us even farther as we start coming up to our race season. I am super excited to see what the rest of this week is going to be like.

Day 1 – March 4th, 2017


Cass Bruins, Women’s Team Captain
Hometown: Colorodo Springs, CO
Major: Exercise Science
Aloha, from Tennessee! Our spring break destination that feels like it may as well be Hawaii at 55 degrees rather than a whopping 23 in Michigan !

Day one started bright and early with the team breakfast at 8am. Then once we arrived at the course, we kicked off this spring break training with the ol faithful “Darth Vader Row”, approximately 30k (3ish hours) of rowing! We worked at a strong but steady rate, focusing on length and power. While my hands were bleeding by the end (literally) I honestly love this row. Something about hours of strong, technical rowing and focus and starting off the trip with a workout long enough to “shake the rust off” is amazingly satisfying to me. Some of the girls would beg to differ though, haha. The water levels are very low right now, and that was definitely a struggle for the new coxies, but we prevailed.
The second practice of the day was a 90 minute skill and drill row. While there was a decent amount of stationary drills, you could really feel the boat coming together already! Not to mention it was 50 degrees and sunny, who could ask for more?
The night came to a close with our team meeting and the release of the spring break guide, our comical way of introducing the novices to the team and a fun way for us to give each other a hard time.

I am very excited to see the improvements made this week by myself and my fellow teammates!
A hui hou (goodbye) for now!

The oars

Rob Hiner, Men’s Team Captain
Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI
Major: Mechanical Engineering
After arriving in Tennessee late Friday night the team woke up for our traditional “Darth Vader” row this morning. It was pretty chilly this morning but it warmed up to a delightful temperature once the sun came up. We took to the water in two even eights and rowed up and down the river all morning locked into some intense battle paddle. We were welcomed by some familiar Spartans that were practicing further up the river. After returning to the dock we ate some lunch and headed back to the hotel for a nap between practices. In our second practice we went out in a tentative 1st and 2nd varsity eight lineups. It felt good to be back in a fast competitive boat even just for a short technical practice.

Oak Ridge Tennessee is a beautiful place to row. The combination of a buoyed 2k course with miles of open water up and down stream meets all of our training needs. I’m excited to start seat racing and I’m excited to start going fast again. The spring training trip is always an essential trip for the team. I always love watching my teammates improve and I love watching the team grow. This is my last training trip on Grand Valley’s rowing club and I hope to make the best of it. I’m looking forward to the week ahead.

Dawn rowing

Hallie Taylor
Hometown: MI
Major: Undecided
Today was our first day in Oak Ridge. We started off the day by enjoying complementary breakfast at our hotel before heading out for our first row at 8am. The ride there was full of team bonding like singing along to songs to get pumped up for our first day on the water. Practice started off with stretching and a short warm up on the water and then continued to rowing on a low stroke rate, about 17 strokes/min, with an emphasis on power. We also put in focus on things like posture and reaching the blade back as far as we could. During practice the two women’s boats had some friendly competition racing each other during the long row down and back up the river. Focusing on pushing our bow ball ahead of the other boat really helped us focus in on getting power from the legs in the drive. During the row we enjoyed the nice scenery of Tennessee. After practice we had sandwiches with chips before heading back for a couple of hours to relax until heading off to practice at 3:30.

Our second practice was a bit different. The whole women’s team got split up into fours to work on technique and do some drills. I’d never been in a four before and I really loved it. Once practice was finally over for the day we headed back to get ready for the pizza dinner and almost missed the van to go to Kroger for more food.

We concluded the day with a fun team meeting brought to you by the seniors where they gave us the survival guide to making it through the week.

The bob stoll

Dino Foggia
Hometown: Riverview, MI
Major: Undecided
I arrived at Oak Ridge at 3:30 am after a long van ride I was excited to start the day on the water for the first time in a while. This is my fifth spring break coming to train in Oak Ridge and was looking forward to it and being on the water again somewhere warm.

In the morning, we had the Darth Vader row, which was about a twenty-thousand-meter row which I had done by pairs in a four, and in much warmer weather than back home. It was nice to see the beautiful scenery of Oak Ridge again, and we quickly got back into the swing of things rowing down Melton Lake. This was the farthest I have ever been up the lake and its beautiful scenery seemed to never end.

After the row, we put the boats away and strapped them down and went back to the hotel to have a quick rest before out second practice for the day. This practice was not as long as the Vader row and was focused more on technique rather than getting in miles. I was in an eight and rowed by sixes this time and the row went by much faster than I would hope it would. After docking, we again put the equipment away and went back to the hotel for dinner and rest.

I’m so excited to be back in Oak Ridge again after jumping in my senior year I didn’t think I would come back again, and cannot wait to see what the rest of the week has in store. I am sure it will be a great spring training just like it was back in high school.

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