Spring Break Training Camp Athlete’s Daily Blog 2015 – 2016

“I’m reminiscing big-time at the pictures and daily blogs. Tell everyone I was disappointed they didn’t do 26 miles for the DV row like 2007—then again I remember involuntary tears streaming down my face since my hands were ripped apart. I still remember the van rides to and from the race course, napping in the Days Inn hotel, and eating at Ryan’s. While I’ve switched to triathlon, the element of working together as a team for a common goal is no longer there. I don’t seem to get the same level of satisfaction after a race like I did when I was rowing at GVSU. I hope everyone enjoys the trip even when it hurts… they will miss it one day.”

-Mike Stoll, Team Advisor, Rowing Alum 12′



Spring Training Wrap Up

Scott Thorbjornsen, ‘16
Hometown: Bangor, MI
Major: Speech Pathology

The Laker Navy once again opened the spring season with week long trip over spring break. This year’s venue was Oak Ridge TN, where miles of river were waiting to be rowed. The trip started with a long Darth Vader row that got our blood flowing and muscles ready for the long week ahead of us. After a few days of listening to coaches chalk talks and working on the technical aspects of the sport we began seat racing to test our meddle.

Waking up every morning would have been much harder if not for the great weather we had all week. The average temperature was around 67 degrees. Hopefully we all come back looking like bronze statues.

The week also included a Star Trek row where the Laker Navy went where no other crew had gone before. The distance we went made us all dig deep to finish the row and not give up. Our efforts were rewarded with an afternoon in Gatlinburg where we enjoyed the views the Appalachians can give.

To finish the week we held our own regatta on the race course at Oak Ridge. Each crew did five 1500 meter races to Guage where they are before heading into racing season. Each crew has room to improve and will work towards the expectations they have for themselves over these next few weeks before w ego to our first race in Washington DC.

This trip was a very tough one but we came out for the better. Thank you for all of your support. Pull for the Laker Navy!

Saturday, March 12th

Christina Pavano, ‘16
Hometown: Rockford, MI
Major: Psychology

And that’s a wrap! Today was the last day of our spring training trip and now we are all stuffed in 15 passenger vans filled with pillows, blankets and lots and lots of luggage on our way home.

This morning started off with everyone being able to sleep in and have a nice breakfast at the hotel before we headed to the course at 10am. Once we got to the course, there was a lot happening around. There was a Womens NCAA regatta being held at the venue we’ve been practicing at all week. So before we got on the water, we prepped the trailer as much as we could and even talked to a few familiar faces. For or final practice of spring break, we were all excited to put all our hard work over the week to the test and race against each other. We did 5×1500 meter pieces. The pieces went great and it was a fun way to end break with a bang.

As I sit in this van somewhere in Kentucky, I keep thinking back to what a great week it’s been. As a team, we all have put in lots of mileage, pushed ourselves to the limits and have all improved a great amount. This training trip is just a starting point for The Laker Navy. There’s still lots of speed to gain with time. And I cannot be more excited to see what this spring season will bring!

Julia Glenn, ‘19
Hometown: Grosse Pointe, MI
Major: Education

Today, our last day in Tennessee, we woke around 8 began to pack our things then met down in the breakfast room around 9:15 to receive our betting shirts. We all piled into the vans all wearing our betting shirts getting pumped for our last practice on the beautiful course. We arrived to the course around 10:30, on the water at 12:00. Our practice was a 5 x 1500, at a 32 stroke rate. The first two were the strongest and most controlled, the remaining were not at our high standards which could be a result of our aching bodies and the long week, nevertheless we should have been able to continue our streak of control and intensity. During the practice some switches were made and one of the switches included putting Coach Michelle into 5 seat for the last 1500 of the practice. It was fun for a coach to be put into our position and feel the boat from our perspective.

Once we got off the water we brought the boats in, and began to derig the boats and load them onto the trailer. We went into the tent and ate lunch, and changed into some clean clothes. Once the trailer was loaded and we were ready to hit the road we gathered in front of the trailer for a group picture. Afterwards, Coach B did a quick recap of this past week we spent in Tennessee, and what will come in the next week. To properly commence this training camp we broke it down as a whole team for a final time in Tennessee, shouting GV.

Chad Wasco, ‘19
Hometown: Midland, MI
Major: Engineering

This morning I woke up with some much needed extra sleep; we got to sleep in until 8 today! Being it is the last day of spring training our schedule is a little different for the day. We all went down and ate breakfast and then we were distributed our “betting shirts.” These are the shirts that we have to give to the other teams if they beat us in a race. But I have hopes that with this crew that won’t happen often, so I plan on getting a lot of other team’s shirts. After practice we packed our bags and headed in the vans to the race course. The drive there is about 20 minutes so plenty of time to get some rocking tunes going. Once at the course we began to derig and put the smaller boats back on the trailer. These were the boats that we no longer needed for the remainder of our time in Tennessee. So we just used the extra time we had to get ready for the trip back home. Today is weird because there is the Cardinal Invite regatta going on and so we can’t use the course at certain times due to the races happening.

Finally, it is our time to go do some work. After a short talk with the coaches we get our boats and head to the water. I was in 5 seat of 8 in the Alexandra. Our lineup is built for speed; it is at this point what our top novice boat will be. This boat sits low and is smooth, it is a Vespoli racing shell that is slick looking with its navy blue color and its graceful glide through the water. Luke and I are in charge of oars, because we are so tall when carrying the boat all of the weight is on our shoulders so we try to balance it out with the other men.

We get out onto the water and immediately start our warmup drill. This consists of different types of strokes not normally done, just to warm up different muscle groups. Things like rowing without bending arms or only going up the slide with our seats halfway. Once that’s done it was time for our pieces to start. We rowed five 1500 meter races and the boat I was in raced against our own varsity top boat. I will say this, while my boat thinks it’s fast it is not varsity material yet. Those men are animals and the shear force that they put into that blade is incredible. They beat us every race but we sure put up a fight for them. It was cool but very tiring to do this. It may be only four or so minutes of a race each time but it’s the longest 4 minutes of your life it feels like. When rowing I wear a heart rate monitor strap around my chest and during these pieces my heart rate is around 180-190 bpm so it’s a very hard workout for sure. Along with the heart rate my phone is strapped to a rigger and is recording our speed and distance and time traveled. For 14 workouts during spring break we logged 235.94 km (146.6 miles) and over 30 hours in the boat.

Coach Costas always tells us “Miles makes champions” and I am a believer in that, the difference at the end of the week is incomparable to the beginning. I am very proud of everything that everyone accomplished this week and I am looking forward to a great season with my Laker family.

Friday, March 12th

Logan Conner, ‘18
Hometown: Rockford, MI
Major: Pre-med

Yesterday was a very good day for the grand Valley Rowing team. The day started out with a great chalk talk from Coach B. After that we went out for some skill and drill. I was in the launch with Coach B. as my men were in pairs and the women were in fours. We went downstream working on the catch and striking from the balance. The morning practice was a long steady state with drills mixed in and a couple 2-3 min pieces worked in.

After practice I sat down and worked on some long put off homework. In the evening the men went out in our 8 for some one on one with coach. It was a very productive practice as we worked over our pre-race fartlick and everything went smoothly.

After coming back and having a nice team pizza dinner, I know some people had a nice euchre tournament but I just wanted to relax and so I didn’t play. I do know the day also ended in a funny way as two of our teammates ended up stuck in an elevator for about a half hour. No worries they made it out ok! All in all it was a great day.

Ben Hamp, ‘19
Hometown: Caledonia, MI
Major: Education/Group Social Studies

Today we started out with breakfast that has been graciously offered by the hotel throughout this week. We were able to sleep in a little later than usual, and headed to Oak Ridge for practice. Once we got to Oak Ridge the rowers began their stretches and the coxswains met with their coaches to find out the plan for practice. We had a short chalk talk about early squaring and how each individual is needed to help balance the boat. After that we set off into our boats for practice, and we were out on the water for about an hour and a half. Things went well on the water and the guys are showing a lot of improvement this week, and it is so exciting to see! After practice we came in, got our boats strapped down and ate lunch at the course. After eating lunch we de-rigged the pairs and a couple of the fours and put them on the trailer so they would be ready to head back to Allendale.

We then left Oak Ridge to head back to the hotel to rest, review video, and just hang out with the team. We had an extended afternoon break today and didn’t have to leave for Oak Ridge until 4.

For the afternoon practice we had another short chalk talk and a change in the lineups. The novice men rowed in their racing lineups for the short hour practice, getting ready for our 4×1500 pieces that would come the following day. This practice went very well, we did multiple 45 second sprint pieces as well as quarter slide rev-ups, working on quickness of the blade. After we came in for practice we compacted the boats so that they were only on one side of our trailer and called it a day and headed back for the hotel for a pizza dinner. After the pizza dinner we had a small euchre tournament which was very nice and laid back. To end the night a number of us hung out around the fire outside the hotel and just socialized and talked about our days. Tomorrow we have our pieces and then we head back home to Grand Valley!

Grace Vander Weide, ‘17
Hometown: Battle Creek, MI
Major: Exercise Science

As a team we started this week going back to the basics of rowing. Saturday we had our traditional Vader row and we worked on posture. The rest of the week we followed posture with timing, control, balance and touch. We were able to take advantage of the venue and have on the water chalk talks with coach as well as using the erg arm.

As a team we saw a lot of growth and as we hit the racecourse this morning we are excited to see everything we have learned over the past week come together. We also got to know each other better off the water; we have come together as a team over board and card games, sitting out by the fire, working on homework and just chilling in our hotel rooms watch the tube.

Sometimes when I take a step back and look at the team I think about how close so many of us are and how without rowing I probably wouldn’t have ever met and of them. This week has been a great learning experience and I am excited to get back and continue to grow as a team!

Thursday, March 10th

Coach Bancheri demonstrating “striking to and from the balance” during an early morning chalk-talk

Brandon Roberts, ‘18
Hometown: Dearborn Heights, MI
Major: Computer Science

This morning was a wake up like any other spring break morning. *Alarm* *Snooze* *Alarm* *roll out of bed* With a quick breakfast before practice, the van ride consisted of some jams to prep us for the row we were about to embark upon. After a short, yet informative chalk talk, we hit the water for some last minute technique fixes before the race. One “short” steady state row later and we were back on the dock for any athlete’s favorite time of day: Chow Time. Another van ride and we were back to the hotel for nap time.

3 hours later and we all put on our race duds to do yet another round of 5x1250m seat racing. This time around, we had some guests also join us on the race course in the form of the University of Rochester. The men went out in fours to race their fours, the women went out in eights to race their women’s eights, and the novice men went out in their eights to race their novice men. The dock was never a more welcome sight as we came around the turn and from the “thousand yard stares” on everyone’s faces, I could tell the team worked their butts off. Upon returning to the hotel, we all split off into our own groups and ate dinner. It is now night time and the hotel is quiet as the team winds down and prepares for what tomorrow has in store.

Amber Crotty, ‘17
Hometown: Fruitport, MI
Major: Pre-Physicians Assistant

After a well deserved and needed night in Gaitlinberg, the team woke up this morning well-rested and refreshed. The team devoured the complimentary breakfast provided at the hotel. Loading the vans quickly and efficiently the team headed to Oak Ridge for a bright and early row on the beautiful venue.

Before getting on the water, Coach B gave a very intriguing “chalk talk” about backing the blade into the water and timing sequence with the seat. The varsity men went out in fours while the varsity women went out in an eight, while the novices were divided into their racing boats for the afternoon. Going upstream the team worked on timing and ratio. Several pause drills were included, which consisted of feather/square drills.

After a productive row, the team loaded up into vans and drove back to the hotel for a few hours. Team bonding over homework and naps were shared. Some team members even went hammocking in the trees next to the hotel.

After our short break, the team loaded back into the vans and headed back to the course where we scrimmaged Rochester. I coxed the same men’s four as earlier in the day. The venue luckily provided us with a well-organized course for racing. A few switches were made amongst the boats on our team. All of the men are working towards earning their seat in the men’s varsity eight for the spring/summer season. After having a very eyeopening and positive scrimmage against Rochester, we said our goodbyes and went for a short technical row twelve minutes downstream.

The team worked hard today. It is exciting to see the speed and rhythm develop in the boats, and I expect a very successful season ahead.

Zack Peters, ‘17
Hometown: Royal Oak, MI
Major: Finance

My name is Zack Peters and I currently sit three seat in the men’s varsity eight. Yesterday the men’s varsity eight set a new Grand Valley distance record for a single practice. We rowed just over thirty miles and had a great time doing it. Today we continued our week with a easy technique practice in the morning and a more intense practice in the afternoon.

The University of Rochester joined us on the course for 1250m sprint races. I was in one of the three GV men’s fours. Some hard strokes were put in and every one will help us in the future. A big thanks to the men and women’s rowing team from Rochester, we both got faster today.

As the week comes to an end, I will have fond memories of the whole trip. A big thank you to the coaches and everyone who made this trip possible. The only way to get better at rowing is to row, and this experience is invaluable to us. All in all it has been a great week to be a Laker.

Drew Vielbig, ‘18
Hometown: Fowlerville, MI
Major: Marketing

Today, the weather was perfect. My room woke up around 7:45 and left the hotel at 8:15. We got to the course at around 8:30 and sat down to listen to one of coach B’s famous chalk talks, focusing on catch timing and posture. The most interesting part of the chalk talk was the fact that there was a boat placed in the water and rowers at each end holding it in place. Donnie was in the water and he demonstrated the strike to and from the balance.

Once the talk was over, we split off with the other novice men, to talk with Coach Costas. We got out on the water in new lineups and focused on drill work and timing for the morning practice. We did some newer drills and worked by 6’s and 8’s. We rowed for about an hour and a half and then came back in to grab a delicious and in all ways satisfying peanut butter and jelly lunch. Once we finished lunch, we went back to the hotel, to hangout for a few hours. Some people showered, and napped, while I opted to hammock.

In the afternoon, we arrived at the course around 2:45. Today’s practice was unique because we raced two boats from Rochester University. This went very well. Our F1 lineup had great timing and lots of power. I gotta say, it felt top notch. After completing five 1250m races, we were done with our evening practice. The novice men went out to Chuy’s for dinner for a little team bonding. All in all, was a successful day on the water.

Wednesday, March 9th

Chris Doherty, ‘17
Hometown: Traverse City, MI
Major: Clinical Exercise Science

What an adventure for the Laker Navy.

Today started normally, an early wake up call with a hot breakfast from the hotel. Same van ride, same pre-practice stretch. However that’s where the normalcy ended. Today, for the first time all week, the varsity men were in an eight. The Bob Stoll got its feet wet and eight oarsmen were excited to finally row in a big boat. We started by rowing by sixes, focusing on ratio and our catch’s. Clean, quick, and efficient; those were the mantras of the morning. As a result, the power application by each individual was that much more effective. We quickly found our rhythm.

We quickly found ourselves in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. 14 miles into our row we were told to turn, unless we wanted to really go for it and break the record for the longest any crew at GV has even gone in a single session. To my surprise, not a single man said no. We wanted that record. We continued on for another two miles, going even further until we could go no more. We had hit the end of rowable water.

We stopped, spun, and took as well deserved break. While it felt good to make it that far, we were only half way there. Taking it back by all eight, the power and ratio quickly returned. What seemed like an eternity on the way there flew by with all eight rowing.

31 miles later we made it back to the dock. We collapsed onto the dock, proud but exhausted. We quickly scarfed down lunch and returned to the hotel. Much needed showers were taken and a much needed afternoon off was waiting for us. Our trip to Gatlinberg was quite literally a breath of fresh air, a nice reward for the many hard strokes we have been putting in day in and day out. I am sore and still feeling the effects of the week, but more work is still to be done. I will sleep well tonight.

Karissa Cloud, ‘19
Hometown: Ada, MI
Major: Diagnostic Medical Sonography

This morning started a bit earlier due to the longer row for our morning practice. We had the “Darth Vader” row again, but we went further this time- approximately 40.86 km! It was a hefty row because we were given the afternoon to travel to Gatlinburg. The women’s 1v rowed the piece with the novice men, the 1v men by themselves, and some varsity men’s pairs with the novice women. The distance and rough waters for the last 5000m made the row more difficult, but all crews held strong. Training in this weather will only help us in the long run. It was tiring and at times seemed never ending, but 4 hours later we were back on land.

Taking our time to recover, we had sandwiches for lunch at the course and loaded into vans to head back to the hotel. After an hour to shower, clean up and pack up, we loaded into the vans again and were off to Gatlinburg. We arrived at about 2 and stayed until 7:30. Most went to get a second lunch and fill up for the rest of the evening, and others shopped and stopped at local attractions. The group I was with took a van and went 20 minutes up the mountain and stopped at a hiking trail. With our hammocks and cameras ready, we hit the path and the views were stunning. A smaller group I was with hiked about 30 minutes up the trail and stopped on an outlet from the footpath and set up camp on the creek. Many pictures, laughs and irreplaceable moments were shared as the time flew by.

At about 6, our hiking group drove back down the mountain and went to the heart of the city for some shopping. Everyone enjoyed some much needed ice cream to cool off and the evening quickly came to a close. Back in the vans, some take advantage of the trip and nap while others talk about what they did in Gatlinburg. This has been one of the best spring break vacations I have been on and I am so happy to be spending it with my team here in Tennessee. Though some practices may go well, and others not as much, the memories shared and friendships made are worth it all. I look forward to the rest of this trip and the others to come.

Elliot Reith, ‘19
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI
Major: Communication

What a day it was for the Laker Navy. With a bright and early wake up at 6:20am, we headed to the racecourse for a day full of surprises. Heading out in The Animal, we began rowing into an adventure I was not fully prepared for. We rowed a total of 40.68 through wind, waves, and many sore muscles. Over the span of 5 years of rowing, I have never rowed that kind of distance. It was a harrowing, but valuable experience. After having a few sandwiches, we made our way back to the hotel for a quick shower and change of clothes, accompanied by a surprise fire alarm test.

After we were all set and ready to go, we made our way to Gatlinburg for an afternoon off. Once in Gatlinburg, I accompanied a group of men and women for an adventure into the mountains. We climbed the mountain in search of beauty, and, wow, did we find it. We took pictures and surrounded ourselves with the magnificence view of the waterfalls and pools around us. It was a truly amazing experience.

After a long day of adventure, we winded down with a viewing of The Departed and a well deserved night of sleep, readying ourselves for our scrimmage against Rochester Crew tomorrow.

Libby Bradt, ‘18
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI
Major: Engineering

Today was an adventure. The teams launched at an early hour to get the a head start on the day. We were mentally prepared for the Darth Vader part 2. The varsity women head out with the novice men while the varsity men took out their eight line up. With the warm up completed we settle in for the long haul, knowing what is ahead of us. Working on the finer points of technique while on the sixes. Then transferring to rowing all eight. After passing the bridge we use to mark the Darth Vader we knew that this was going to be a lot longer of a row than we expected. In the end the varsity men rowed a total of 31 miles while the varsity women rowed 26 miles with the novice men.

After getting off the water and grabbing a quick lunch at the course. We head back to the hotel to shower and change to load the vans again to head out to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Where we got 4 hours to wonder around and shop or even go on a hike in the Smokey mountains.

Tuesday, March 8th

Brittany Castllo, ‘17
Hometown: Coopersville, MI
Major: Psychology/Math

The team started today by filling up on a hot breakfast at the hotel in preparation for the beginning of seat racing today.

The morning practice involved a series of 5x1250m sprints that marked the beginning of a series of seat races for the varsity men, and a great opportunity for the women to do the sprints in an 8+ and get a taste of spring racing. Once the races were finished we continued the morning practice with some work with drills followed by a steady state cool down home on the quarter feather.

After lunch at the course we loaded in the vans and headed back to the hotel. Most of the team used this time as a chance to relax in their rooms, nap, shop, or get some homework done before we went back to the course for afternoon practice. At the second practice the varsity men went out in pairs and a four and the women in fours. We did some 20min pieces focusing on keeping the rate down but the power high, and the women made some great strides working on holding the set, staying long, and minimizing check, ensuring that the boat always moves in one direction.

Once this practice was finished we went back to the hotel, and took quick showers in anticipation of our second pizza dinner as a team. After we stuffed ourselves with pizza it was time to turn in and relax in our rooms and get some rest in preparation for our long morning row and trip to Gatlinburg tomorrow!

Austin Gentry, ‘16
Hometown: Corona, CA
Major: Philosophy

Oak Ridge has proven to be a great venue for putting in a lot of great mileage and the improvements being made on a daily basis has been excellent. The scenic mountains and cool water are very enjoyable and refreshing.

The team is enjoying the sunny weather and we look forward to spending the majority of the day in Historical Gatlinburg tomorrow. In the mean time, we will try to rest as much as possible because every one was definitely feeling the compounding pain from ever practice thus far. While our body’s are feeling broken down, we are doing our best to keep morale high and enjoy our time with building camaraderie and building the speed of our respective boats.

Jacob Mclain, ‘19
Hometown: Harbor Springs, MI
Major: Communications

Today in Oak Ridge, Tennessee the novice men prepared for practice on the beautiful Melton Lake and river area. Not quite sure of what the coaches had in store for us, we checked our slides and grabbed our oars. As the fine, strapping young men we are we decided to gather in a group and begin our stretches as per usual until our coach, Costas Ciungan, joined us to deliver the daily agenda. For the morning row it had been decided that we would row upstream for a few dozen kilometers and practice proper technique to better prepare ourselves to take on the finals this May at the Dad Vail regatta. As Fairbairn famously said “mileage makes champions.”

After returning to the boats from our lunch break the novice men continued drills on the water. The majority of today’s practice consisted of skills and blade work, well taken advice from the coaches and coxies, and a lot of good rowing. It feels great to be back on the water. Thank you to everyone that made this spring break training possible! From all of the novice men, thank you.

Monday, March 7th

Emily Koons, ‘18
Hometown: Okemos, MI
Major: Business

Day 3 in Tennessee. We started off the day with a chalk talk that was quite out of the ordinary; Coach B had Donnie demonstrate the perfect stroke from the Anderson while a couple of the varsity men prevented it from moving away from the dock. It was interesting to get a different perspective of the components of the stroke from the opposite shore, and to see how the water reacted to each of strokes in response to Donnie’s correct or incorrect movements.

On the water, the varsity men and women worked on feathering to the bow through multiple technical drills, followed by a long steady state row and a surprise battle paddle between the ports and starboards of each boat. Some of the men’s fours were pulled across the river by one side out pulling the other, however it was encouraging to see that the women’s 1V had a majorly even distribution of power within the boat. My favorite part of the day was the last hard 20 strokes we took at a 32-34 stoke rate. The run that we got out of the Keeler at that high rate was awesome, and Coach B didn’t hesitate to tell us. We ended practice with Coach B jumping up and down in the launch and screaming, “YES, YES, YES! THAT WAS BEAUTIFUL!” You know it’s a good day when Coach B reveals his inner Sicilian in a positive way – that includes arms flailing, megaphone-throwing, and grinning a grin so wide you can’t help but smile too.

It has taken us a bit longer than normal to really click as a boat and witness the results that we have worked so hard to see. However, after these last couple of practices, I have a newfound confidence in the women’s team’s abilities moving forward into the spring racing season.

Jessica Hasenau, ‘19
Hometown: Livonia, MI
Major: Clinical Exercise Science

Today was our third and warmest day yet in Tennessee, which had us soaking up the sun during our row this morning. Our drive to practice was a bit different, sending one van back for a few forgotten coxswains. Now we have designated vans and a buddy system to prevent further occurrences. Once to the training course the novice women boats rowed downstream implementing the feather into our blade work. First with bobs at the catch then feathering and squaring, focusing on timing the most. Working up to power tens finally had us feeling confident with our strokes on the way back to dock.

After lunch the team headed back to the hotel and took a few hours for needed naps and rolling our sore muscles. Apparently bringing a roller is better than free food and was a smart move on my part. Before we knew it, the vans were leaving once again for the second practice of the day.

At the second practice, Coach B. had a ‘chalk talk’ for us with the emphasized on the catch and drive sequence. This explains how to utilize your quads, lats and suspend your body weight at the finish in order to get more power out of every stroke. Novice women switched up the scenery and rowed upstream for a more technical practice. Working on drills that continued to focus on timing and feathering the blade reinforced our skills. On the way back to docks I enjoyed our three minute mini-races between the two boats and personally was able to work on keeping my hands up at the catch with help from Coach Allison. Overall, I can feel our boat getting better each day of training that will make us each a stronger rower in this upcoming spring season!

Rob Hiner, ‘17
Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI
Major: Engineering

Today it was a beautiful day in Oak Ridge. We were on the water early for a long steady state row. Today we worked on the release and the “strike to the finish.” The team as a whole has been making many improvements. It will show tomorrow when we start doing some speed work.

After the morning practice we got some much needed lunch including the ever delicious Frozen themed fruit snacks. The afternoon practice included some fun racing in pairs with the men’s pairs chasing down the women’s fours. Overall it was a great day!

The rowing venue at oak ridge is beautiful. The water is always flat and the mountain backdrop is stunning. The hotel we are staying in is very nice. The beds are comfy and the location is great. There are a lot of restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. Tonight I ate at Applebee’s with a few of my teammates, enjoying some delicious half off apps. So far it has been a very successful training trip and I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.

Sunday, May 6th

Brittany Gronda, 17′
Hometown: Tawas, MI
Major: Advertisement & Public Relations

Day two, I believe, was a successful day. The sun was out and the water was perfect for all the technique work. The first practice was about two hours long and very focused. In the women’s varsity eight our main focus was “jumping” right off the catch increase boat speed and glide. We worked on that first by sixes going upstream. On the way back downstream we went all eight working to find our balance and implementing the jump off the catch. We finished out the practice with a “whatever it takes to win!” and it felt great going fast. It makes me really excited for spring season to finally begin! We docked, ate lunch, and headed back to the hotel to rest up before the second practice.

On the drive to second practice we turned on some jams to pump us up! Once on site, we were assigned to the boats and off we went for more technical work. The men were in pairs and the women were in fours. The focus for this practice was controlling the feathering of the blade. After about an hour of circle drills and stationary drills we all made our way down the 2000 meter course to have a race. The goal of this race was to have the lowest amount of strokes using a low rate but having a strong drive through the water. All boats did well.

After having a women’s team meeting we all concluded that today was all about improvement. Day by day and stroke by stroke we will be working hard and setting new goals to get our bowball first across the finish lines this upcoming spring season.

Jack Tucker, 18′
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI
Major: Nursing

The weather today was spectacular! The varsity men started the day with some typical steady state in fours, the time flew bye as we rowed down the beautiful Clinch River past all sorts of mountainous views.

In-between our practices we all compared our blistered hands and discussed different ways of treatment. As we were preparing for our second practice in the afternoon there was a stunt plane doing tricks while we were trying to focus on the chalk talk at hand.

We finished the day with a 90 minute technique row in pairs consisting of circle drills and catch placement drills we ended the practice with a 2000 meter race the winner was whoever took the least amount of strokes. The sunset was a rainbow of red, yellow, pink, and orange; it was the perfect end to the perfect day.

Simon Kilda, 20′
Hometown: Auburn, MI
Major: Athletic Training

Waking up on the second morning of spring break training in Oak Ridge was much better than the first, even though our entire room slept through our alarms. We still had plenty of time for breakfast and then we piled in the vans at 8 am. Getting to the racecourse the day after the Darth Vader row and realizing how much everything hurts was pretty rough. Despite that, we all grabbed the boat and got on the water. The first couple strokes were very hard and stiff. Our muscles get stretched back out and our blistered hands are not used to grabbing the oar. After all the rust is shaken off and your hands are used to it again you remember why you are still doing this sport. As the beautiful Tennessee landscape moves around you and you feel the speed of the boat even though there is no motor. We went under the first bridge and right as we got through it the train went over, it was a very cool moment.

After that 20K am practice I was ready to get off the water, we had lunch at the course and headed back to the hotel. We had a nice four-hour break with cards, friends and food. Before we knew it, it was time for our second practice. I learned a lot and feel like I do every time we have a technical row. We did a lot of work at the catch though so we did not apply a lot of power. After practice I took a very long shower and cleaned my blisters. I ate as much food as possible and now I am headed to bed.

Saturday, March 5th

Dominic Biolchini, 18′
Hometown: Oxford, MI
Major: Education

Ahhh what a first morning in Tennessee. Our whole crew arrived in the night hours and was up and at em for an early “darth Vader” row. It really was the length of the Death Star; a whole 22 miles. All crews benefited from the long steady state row. The drive to and from the Oak Ridge course is absolutely beautiful.

The crews went back to the hotel for some much needed rest before the second practice. These might be our best living conditions for a trip in our teams history with a full couch, silverware, and a full sized fridge. Our second row was short and sweet: technical with the focus being on the body positioning on the recovery.

With a pizza dinner waiting for us the team arrived back at the hotel to eat back all those burned calories. After dinner the team was handed the all important guide to spring break. Later, parts of the crew gathered to watch HBO, the political debates, and/or play some cards. Overall early bedtimes for a very tired Grand Valley Rowing Team. It was a great first day.

Faith Platz, 18′
Hometown: Grand Haven, MI
Major: Statistics/Economics

Today was our first full day in Tennessee, and we got a chance to finally get back on the water after a long winter training season at the RTC. The venue in Oak Ridge is absolutely perfect for rowing, and the weather turned out to be very pleasant today after a bit of a chilly morning. We began with the dreaded “Darth Vader” row, where we get back into the swing of rowing on the water instead of the erg by doing a lot of steady state rowing. It was tiring and very long, but it still beats the erg, and mountains are absolutely beautiful here!

After our morning session, we ate lunch and returned to the hotel for some much needed rest and relaxation, especially after arriving in Knoxville late last night. When it was time for our second practice this afternoon, we loaded back in the vans and headed for the course. We had a nice, relaxed technical row, which was very satisfying after a tiring morning. It was really good that we were able to break down our stroke and work on timing, balance and control. all of which will continue to be at the forefront of importance with the impending spring season upon us.

After practices concluded, we went back to the hotel, enjoyed a pizza dinner, and received our Spring Break T-shirts, which I absolutely love this year! This week should be a great opportunity to improve and start out the spring season on the right foot. I am really looking forward to training with my teammates and being in the beautiful mountains of Tennessee for the next week.

Sarah Loughman, 19′
Hometown: Saline, MI
Major: Undecided

Today was a pretty long but productive day, I arrived to the hotel at 1 am in the morning after a 12 hour van ride. Later we finally started rowing. We got on the are course we had the Darth Vader row, 22 miles of rowing. That practice gave our boats a chance to work together and get a good rhythm. We also got to see some of the beautiful Tennessee scenery.

Later, after a quick lunch at the course, we all made our way back to the hotel where I promptly took a long, much needed nap… right up until the next practice. Our second practice of the day was a much shorter technical row, my boat took a lot of time to focus on posture and grip on the oar handle.

When all the practices were done the whole team met up for a pizza dinner and a meeting. My first day in Oak Ridge was an enjoyable one and I am looking forward to the rest of the team with the Laker Navy!

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