Spring Training Athlete Blogs 2014

Day Eight – Saturday, March 8, 2014

SB Team Pic

Costas Ciungan ’15
Major: Legal Studies
Hometown: Grosse Ile, MI

Today was the final day of spring training for the Laker Navy, and after completing a fantastic week of mileage and technical training; the Lakers had the opportunity to execute their training. The Lakers had a regatta against Florida Institute of Technology and Jacksonville University. The team departed and checked out of their wonderful accommodations, Historic Dodgertown, Vero Beach, FL. around 7:30 AM. Today the conditions were sunny and slightly windy, but the winds died down throughout the morning. All in all, the weather and conditions were suited for rowing, which has been the weather for the entire week so far. Thank you rowing gods, but really thank you Florida.

The Laker Navy raced in the Keuper Cup at Canal 54, our spring training destination, to close up a great week of training. The regatta schedule of events can be found here. I rowed in the Men’s Varsity 8+ with Austin Burris, Robbie DeWeerd, Nate Biolchini, Ed Avena, David Blythe, Costas Ciungan (me), Spencer West, Justin Ebert, and coxswain: Kyle Barnhart (Stroke to Bow). Our team had been putting in a lot of hours and meters of rowing, technical training, seat racing, and small boats practice. What a week it has been, with the Keuper Cup as the Grand Finale.

All of the boats that raced today did well and learned something from their performance today. In sports it has been said time and time again, that it is not where you start, but where you end up. This week the Laker Navy departed on a journey. A journey into their spring season as they conclude their spring training trip. This trip, this week, and our first race are only the beginning, and where we go from here is in our hands – with lots of room for improvement.

Overall this spring training trip has been a great success and we owe it to all of our supporters, alumni, and donors who have given and continue to give to our program, our success is truly yours. Throughout this week I have seen athletes improve in Posture, Timing, Control, Balance, Bladework, and the development of touch as many had the opportunity to analyze their rowing and get individual coaching attention – including myself. I would like to thank guest coach Jim Raslavsky for coming out from Maine to be a part of our training trip this year!

This week the varsity was in Pairs, Fours, and Eights. In Pairs the Varsity did waggle drills working on elements of their stoke and coaching not only their own blade but their team mates as well. The Varsity also did long steady state rows with technical work built into each practice. What makes this trip so special is that we have the entire team together to train, bond, and help each other get faster. The result was a lot of of leaning, team bonding, and rowing.

The Coaching was yet another aspect that made this Spring Training Trip a success with five coaches who came to teach, correct, and help develop great technique and better rowers. Coach Bancheri was instrumental for having everyone start back at square one, focusing on posture and timing and how those aspects allow for the mastery of control and balance. We had on-land chalk talks where rowers demonstrated to each other different aspects of the stroke. Many athletes learned how each aspect builds upon the other. Additionally, Guest Coach Jim Raslavsky came and provided his insight, stories, and memories into the sport of rowing; including but not limited to training, technique, and sculling.

As for myself, I was happy to have the entire team together with a complete focus on rowing, bonding, and building team culture. We literally got a month’s worth of work done in one week. I know that many developed a sense of rhythm and touch as many novice and varsity rowers saw improvements in their rowing, especially after having been indoors for the last couple months.

This training trip was slightly different for me because I am the president of the rowing team and not the web manger – that posts all the blogs and pictures for the team during the trip. This year I only assisted the new web manager, David Blythe, who continues to do great work. In addition, this is my last spring training trip as a rower on the Grand Valley Rowing Club. I am so thankful as a senior to have rowed for four years, to participate in spring training, and to post the blogs; to share with all of our supporters and family of the many great endeavors, adventures, and lessons our athletes here at Grand Valley Rowing are learning in both rowing and about life.

Thank you to everyone who made it possible from our supporters, donors, coaches, and to especially our student-athletes. My team and I are thankful and are looking forward to the great spring season ahead. The Laker Navy is headed back to Grand Rapids, which has been experiencing a fierce winter with lots of snow and cold temps. We have not even been able to put our docks in yet, which is usually put in before we leave for spring training. Keep Pulling for the Laker Navy!


Jordan Crandell ’14
Major: International Relations
Hometown: Fremont, MI

Here I sit in a 15 passenger van headed north to Michigan after a great productive week of rowing on Canal 54 in Vero Beach Florida. The team made great improvements this week with our technique and speed work and I am confident everyone is prepared to attack our upcoming racing schedule.

After a week of two-a-days, technique rows, alligator hunting and lots of team bonding the Laker Navy got to test our speed with our first spring race at the Keuper Cup Regatta at C-54. Both men’s and women’s teams battled crews from FIT and Jacksonville University. This was exciting for the varsity to get back into the swing of spring racing and our novices got their first taste of how exhilarating flying down the course feels.

The men’s 1V had a respectable finish behind FIT while the 2V men’s crew had a tough battle and came in third. The novice men opened their first spring season with a close win in their event. The GVSU Lady Lakers commanded their events with open water wins by the 1V, 2V and 3V. This was a great way to kickoff our spring season and I am excited to see where the team is going to go in the coming weeks and months.

As a senior, I have begun winding down my career as a member of the Laker Navy and have been silently commemorating my “lasts”. My last fall regatta, last Tuesday HOP (I think) and last Wednesday workout (I hope) and this is my last spring break. It was a memorable one for sure. From the stay at Historic Dodgertown to our phenomenal guest coach, Coach Jim, I am confident that this was one of best spring breaks in my time here. The team really grew on the water and bonded off the water. I’m proud to say I played on a championship pick up volleyball team with fellow teammates Austin, Adam and Chris. Additionally, we were serenaded by the Novice Men poolside on our last night in Florida. Fun times were had by all and we continued several Laker Navy spring break traditions in the Spring Break Guide and handing out betting shirts.

Overall, this was a fantastic week of learning for us all and after we acclimate back to Michigan’s cozy temperatures- I can assure you that we will be focused on racing and becoming better crews. This spring break is just a stepping off point for the Laker Navy and I encourage you all to look at our racing schedule and if you have a free weekend or live in the area to please come out and cheer us on. We would not be the program we are without our faithful base of parents, advisors and alumni and we hope to make you all proud in the coming months!

Thank you to Historic Dodgertown, Compass Coach (And Doug!), Sebastian River Rowing, Indian River Rowing Club and Coach Jim for all you have done for us this week. We cannot thank you enough. So until next time- keep cheering for that Laker Navy! GV-SU!

Day Seven- Friday, March 7, 2014

Sunset Row

Elle Memberto ’17
Major: Exercise Science
Hometown: Holland, MI

We started the day at the ICW with a few pieces on the water. The wind was a little difficult to row in but we were able get through it. The women’s novice 8 got to row in a boat from the Indian River Rowing Club, which was an interesting change. It was a very nice boat and fun to try out. Overall it was a beautiful start to the morning.

Our afternoon was very blustery, but someone of us managed to catch a few rays. It’s difficult to try and concentrate on homework with such beautiful scenery! Such a change from the tundra that we left behind.

This evening we went back to the canal and did the pre-race fartlek for tomorrow. It was difficult rowing against the strong wind, but it was good practice. We ended the day to a gorgeous Florida sunset while putting everything in it’s final place for tomorrow’s regatta. It is unfortunately time for everyone to pack up everything for our departure tomorrow back to Michigan.

Canal Rowing

Ed Avena ’14
Major: Exercise Science
Hometown: Detroit, MI

As the week is coming to an end and races are getting closer, practices have been getting much more race specific. In the past few days, we have been seat racing to determine who will be the the varsity eights. Seat racing is so important to the success of the crew because it determines the fastest combination of athletes in a boat. Each of us have had the chance to prove where we stand on the team and it is really exciting to see both the men and women giving it their all out there. I can’t wait to begin maxing out the speed we are capable of performing.

Now that seat racing is complete for this trip, we have been working on more speed work. Today, we had a few 500 meter pieces to see what kind of speed we could get at this point in the season. We also made a few switches to make sure that the men’s line-up was final. Even though we have not been on the water for long, the times we were putting out were pretty good for the first time in the new line-up.

With each new combination of rowers, we have been focusing on the timing and rhythm of the boat. Because line-ups have changed, it’s important to practice on rowing together and getting used to the feel of the boat. Today, we did many drills and practice starts to really get used to the higher rates. I believe that this spring break has been one of the most successful trips we have had. We had a few mishaps that may have either prevented us from practicing or even traveling, but it always seems to work out. With the support of our coaches, the parents who provide our lunches, the guest coaches, and those who allow us to row at their sites and use their equipment, we have had a great opportunity to get more mileage on the water.

Tomorrow, we race FIT and Jacksonville who are both great opponents. Although they have about a month of more water-time, I believe that Grand Valley is going to have a great day of racing. It’s amazing how quick we regain our technical abilities under the supervision of our head coach. While the trip may be coming to an end, I know that what all we have learned here will be taken back to Michigan where we will continue to train for the next few months. Warmer weather can’t come soon enough.

Day Six- Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sunset Row

Spencer West(Captain) ’15
Major: Wildlife Biology
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

Today began as these mornings typically do: with everyone being woken up by their alarms for a hearty team breakfast before the usual morning practice. This year, as opposed to the norm of staying at a commercial hotel, we have had the luxury of making our temporary residence at the Historic Dodgertown, where the Brooklyn/LA Dodgers used for spring training from 1948 all the way until 2008. The history here is remarkable and an experience in itself, being the site where Jackie Robinson, the first African- American MLB player, trained with the Dodgers until 1956. At Dodgertown, we are spoiled with a delicious all-you-can-eat breakfast, which we all know is something that rowers can appreciate and take advantage of. The facility also includes a large outdoor swimming pool, basketball and tennis courts, a sand volleyball court, shuffleboards, and billiards and ping-pong tables for our recreation. Overall, staying at Dodgertown has enhanced this spring training trip for our entire team through the comfort, hospitality, and history that we have experienced here.

After fueling up, two fours each of the menʼs and womenʼs squads left at 7:30 to finish the final seat-races of the matrix. Once at Canal-54 the two menʼs fours quickly launched and warmed up to the start line, and begin the first of two pieces. 1500 meters later, boats stopped and rowers breathing heavy, the coxswains brought the boats together and read out the lineups for the second and final piece. We all stumbled over each other in the boats, pushed away, and made our way back to the starting line once again. As we were making our way, the bus arrived with the rest of the team, who launched into their respective boats and began their own practices. Still breathing hard by the time we got back to the starting line, we began the last piece, pushing every inch once again. After finishing, we quickly brought the boats to shore where the women were standing ready to hotseat the fours we were in. Since everyone was still on the water, the group of us who seat raced were given special instruction on sculling by guest coach Jim Raslavsky. Jim gave us extremely wise insight on sculling, correcting many parts of the stroke which will in turn improve our technique in the bigger boats. Once everybody finished their practice and returned to land, Coach Bancheri read out the results from the past three days of seat racing and the plan for the day before we all loaded onto the bus to make our way back to Dodgertown.

On the way back from practice, our bus experienced some technical issues but before long everybody made it safely back to Dodgertown where we ate a lunch prepared for us by Debbie and Patrick Dolan, Coach Alyssaʼs parents. After lunch a few of us went to the lounge to shoot pool and play table tennis between practices. At around 2:30, with a tornado watch already in the area and thunderstorms predicted for the evening, we received word that we would not be practicing on the water but that there would instead be a meeting at the hotel at four oʼclock. At four, we all gathered in the lounge where we began with stretches and calisthenics lead by the team captains. Next, guest coach Jim Raslavsky further instructed the entire team in mental and technical aspects of the sport before Coach Bancheri showed us videos from past races and from recent practices and instructed the team even further.

After the team meeting, vans were available to bring athletes to the mall for food. Additionally, many rowers chose to order pizza or another delivery option so that they could relax or enjoy the physical night off while waiting for food. Several people played basketball, volleyball, or just relaxed in the time after the meeting. Once we were all full and worn out, everyone settled into bed to prepare for another day of practice in paradise.

As a junior at GVSU, this trip has been the best team training trip that I have had the chance to attend thus far. From Dodgertown to the rowing facilities at Canal-54 and Indian River Rowing Club, this trip has had it all. At the canal, we are blessed with a long, protected stretch of water that makes for great rowing conditions. Through Indian River Rowing Club we have found a site on the intracoastal waterway that gives us endless water to row on and plenty of sites to see. On this trip I have increased my rowing ability physically, technically, and mentally. Seat racing is probably my favorite thing in this entire sport, as it allows the rower a chance to switch boats and crews and shows the athleteʼs ability to move a boat regardless of conditions out of their control. To be able to see oneʼs individual impact in a boat is both gratifying and motivating. Also, with the wise technical eyes of our coaching staff and guest coach Jim Raslavsky, I have felt myself make improvements in my technique and seem similar improvements throughout the team. Itʼs trips like these that create excitement in the team, seeing the desire and will in every athlete to make this team as fast as it can be.

Sunset Row

Lilly Iles ’17
Major: Hospitality & Marketing
Hometown: Holland, MI

Well today has been an exciting one, that’s for sure. The day started off with yet another fabulous breakfast from the staff here at Dodgertown and then the whole team headed out to Canal 54 for Day 6 of Spring Training. While the varsity teams were busy competing for just a few spots left in the Men’s and Women’s 1V boats, the novice women enjoyed a long technical, steady-state row down the canal. As a whole, the novice teams are definitely looking a lot tidier and I’m sure we’ll get to defend the Grand Valley title very soon.

On our way back to Dodgertown, we had a slight engine mishap on the bus and, long story short, it took a couple of state troupers and a high-spirited team to get us off the highway. Everyone is safe, and our bus driver Doug handled the situation in the best way possible – we’re very thankful to have him with us.

Due to a thunderstorm threat, afternoon practice was cancelled but stretching and calisthenics resumed in the lounge here at Dodgertown. Following that, Coach B gave a team-building speech that greatly increased everyone’s mental attitudes. As everyone’s hands continue to hurt and the temperature remains high, we’re all very grateful to be here with this opportunity to represent our school.

Pool Time

Scott Ossim ’17
Major: Chemistry
Hometown: Fishers, IN

Today was the kind of day that really defines what the crew is about. Heavy winds and some other mishaps put everyone in a situation that we didn’t expect to be in, but we handled it like we always do. In spite of the setbacks, we still had a hugely beneficial “practice” and listened intently to the wisdom that Coach B and a few others had to offer. So without skipping a beat, we were right back on track to focus in and think about the weekend/season to come.

Because we’ve put in so much work and so many miles, the whole team is ready to finally get a chance to show what we can do. Until then, everyone will have an opportunity to hone in on the fine points of our techniques and spend some time on the water with their specific crews. Something like “crew culture” (as Coach B puts it) is really invaluable to winning races, and from downtime to race time, it’s something that we can constantly develop.

In a few short days, we’ll get to put it all to the test when we go head-to-head with a few of the local Florida Crews. Some of the novice guys will get their first taste of sprint racing, and hopefully their first taste of fast-paced victory.
On occasions like this, it’s near impossible to not be a touch nervous. Nevertheless, the determination and sheer want to “go fast” is evident all around, and the coming races will prove to be all but boring.

For as long as I’ve been on the crew, I’ve heard everyone (especially coaches) say that this season has a chance to be the best season in Laker Navy history. I feel like every day there is something new to be found in the training, and I’ve been lucky to get to be a part of such a determined and talented crew. Rowing is unique in that it takes every member of the team to go fast, and this team definitely has the “all-in” mentality that we need. Every stroke is an opportunity to take a seat, to take a race, and maybe even slay a few giants.

Day Five- Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sunset Row

Shelby Welbaum(Captain) ’14
Major: Sports Management
Hometown: Galien, MI

Day 2 of seat racing. The morning started out a bit chillier than the other days with clouds over head and fog covering the canal. The first piece was let’s just say hot! Not much wind with the fog but luckily after that first piece it cleared up and the sun came back out. Seat racing gets better and better each time. It is great to see everyone getting faster. I have high hopes for this spring season with what is happening on the water. We have 1-2 more days left of seat racing for the San Diego Crew Classic and we are all proving how bad we want it through the seat racing. The next couple of days are going to be exciting to find out the results and see where we can go from there.

Pair rowing is one of my favorite boats to row. It’s a great learning tool for one’s self to really perfect the stroke and balance of the boat. Today we got to see a pretty big gator on our row to which we scared by screaming. It then decided to quickly submerge it’s self under the water which made us all scream again because we didn’t know which way it decided to swim. After all the excitement we really worked on the balance of the boat by doing some bob to hands away drills. Every time we do these drills we seem to all get better and better to balancing the boat. This makes me excited because all the work we are doing in the pairs will transfer into the 8’s to make our boats even fast and grab those “free” inches.

Our last adventure of the day was the beach! Unfortunately, it was cloudy and a bit windy than we would have hoped but that didn’t stop us from having fun! Between doing multiple flips whether it was your choice or not in the giant waves, getting plummeted in the chest by a volleyball during a friendly game of beach volleyball (Coach Alyssa) or digging holes on the beach and finding a sand crab, all in all it was a great day on the beach. It was really nice to have an afternoon off and relax on the beach, especially swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. I was really happy to feel the sand between my toes and the sound of the waves rolling in the background. Today was a great relaxing afternoon but tomorrow is a new day and its back to business. Half way through the week and looking at the weather back in Michigan, I don’t want to leave!

Alligator at canal launch

Christopher Deneau ’14
Major: Mathematics
Hometown: Mount Clemens, MI

Well it’s now Wednesday and the alligator sightings are starting to pile up, luckily there have been no attacks yet. The weather has been nice so far aside from the fog we had this morning we have been pretty lucky and we are not in Michigan so we really shouldn’t complain. The breakfast is pretty good here definitely one of the perks that dodgertown has to offer and I am pretty sure the old lady has a crush on me seeing that she likes to talk to me every morning, but I think it’s funny.

Now about the rowing. Today we just had one practice. This is the only time this week that we will be receiving that perk. After the morning practice the team headed back to the hotel then straight to the beach. The nice warm water trumped the windy conditions, so overall the beach was a success.

Now as we approach the end of the week the team looks forward to finalizing boat line ups. As Saturday nears the laker navy looks to start the spring season off with a few wins at the Keuper Cup Regatta. If this happens the bus and van ride home should be much more relaxing knowing we have started the spring season out with quality speed over some fast crews.

Sunset Row

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

Today was our second day of seat racing. We woke up to fog with that on our mind. After enjoying another wonderful breakfast provided by Dodgertown, we made our way to Canal 54. The varsity women started the practice off by seat racing and the men started in pairs. After painfully surviving our three pieces, we had a quick break for snacks and re-applying sunscreen. We went on to pair rowing while the men then did their seat racing. To finish up our morning practice, Coach Alyssa’s parents provided us with another great lunch at the course!

When getting back from practice, we had a quick turn around and headed straight to Vero Beach. The team enjoyed a afternoon off filled with beach volleyball, playing in the waves, and walking 3 miles to get some ice cream. Even though the weather wasn’t the typical beach day weather, with some clouds we still made the best of our beach day!

Upon arriving back at the hotel, we all went our separate ways trying to relax before leaving for dinner. Some of us went for a quick dip in the pool and others played more beach volleyball. For dinner, our fantastic bus driver Doug took a group of us to TGI Fridays. The evening then came to a quick end following with some relaxing in the lounge back at Dodgertown.

Day Four- Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sunset Row

Zack Peters ’17
Major: Finance and Business
Hometown: Royal Oak, MI

Today is Tuesday. It was another beautiful spring break morning in Dodger-town. Breakfast was buffet style with a wonderful treat of biscuits and gravy. The bus departed from Dodger-town at 7:30 for the course in Canal 54. The heat was blistering, which none of us minded because of our months of snow, and the water was perfect for our first day of technical training on the feather.

After a refreshing row in the Florida sun the Novice Men and I loaded ourselves in the van and returned to the pool at Dodger-town for lunch. Once our stomachs were full and our minds focused on PM practice seat races the Novice Men went to our rooms for a short afternoon snooze. When we awoke we lathered up with a fresh coat of sunscreen and loaded on the bus for PM practice.

Even though nerves where high on the bus to our seat races the Novice Men found a way to lighten things up by singing acoustic renditions of modern pop songs. When the boats were lined up at the starting line all you could hear was a light Florida breeze. After the races were over the Novice Men enjoyed a gorgeous red sunset and settled their heads for the seat races tomorrow morning.

Alligator at canal launch

Erin Enk ’17
Major: Exercise Science
Hometown: Plainfield, IL

Today marked the third full day of Spring Training for the Grand Valley State University Rowing Team. We started off the day early with a buffet breakfast, (courtesy of the Historic Dodgertown staff) then loaded up the bus to head to the launch site. While the novice teams went out for a morning piece row, the varsity men and women had a split practice.The men started seat racing while the women were in small boats for technique drills, then switched halfway through the practice.

After a productive morning row, the Laker Navy headed back to Dodgertown for a bite to eat, then had a four hour break at their disposal. Many of the rowers hung out by the pool, playing volleyball, basketball and shuffleboard, while others snuck in a refreshing nap. When 4:30 rolled around, the team hopped back into the vans for the afternoon portion of training. Though we had all worked hard this morning, the Laker Navy was prepared for a few hours of solid technique work.

The majority of afternoon practice was spent doing a variety of stationary drills, ending with a few race pace strokes. Afterwards, the team docked the boats and came back to Dodgertown once more to get ready for a nice dinner out. We all enjoyed an incredible seafood dinner at the Lobster Shanty before coming back to the hotel for the night. Another beautiful, productive day has passed for the Laker Navy here in Vero Beach Florida; we are seizing the opportunity to get faster as a team, and I’m excited to see what the Spring season holds for us!

Day Three- Monday, March 3, 2014

Sunset Row

Chris Gaigalas ’15
Major: Engineering
Hometown: Rockford, MI

Today was a very interesting day for grand valley rowing, after getting up earlier to get breakfast before rushing the men’s varsity team down to the intercostal water way to the Indian River Rowing Club where we had our boats transported the previous night. Once the four eights were off the trailer and loaded the team stretched until the women and the coaches arrived. Once everyone was on site Coach Giovanni gave his chalk talk about suspension.

After the talk the team rushed onto the intercostal water way for practice. The men started out with Coach Alyssa for the first half of practice and the women went with Coach B. We started out our practice working at the catch of our stroke with the Russian Drill, which is a drill that starts at the position where the blade enters the water then we press with our legs only about six inches on the slide. After we did the Russian Drill we transitioned into legs only, then we added the back, and finally we added the arms to complete the drive sequence. Once we finished those drills we moved onto battle paddle which is just full power paddle against the other boat and finally we ended the morning practice with some leap frog. After getting off the water and putting the equipment and launches away the team loaded up into the truck and the van and headed back to dodger town for lunch by the pool.

Once arriving at the pool the team was able to get a wonderful meal made by Debbie and Patrick which consisted of turkey wraps and salad. After everyone was done eating we had free time until the evening practice. At four the varsity team loaded up once again in the van and the truck to head back the intercostal water way. After we got the boats on the water the men started out working on the same drive sequence, but this time we worked with Coach B and worked more on the suspension throughout the stroke. Once the rotation went around a couple of times we moved onto some battle paddle followed by more of the drive sequence practice. Then finally to end the day off we did some bucket racing, which is racing one pair at a time in the two eights. After everyone finished practice and was off the water we loaded the trailer with the oars to transport them back to canal 54 for racing tomorrow, and to finish of the day we headed back to the hotel to get on the bus to head out to dinner.

Alligator at canal launch

Alese Garstick ’14
Major: Exercise Science
Hometown: Algonac, MI

The varsity men and woman’s 1V and 2V eights went to row at a new location today due to an increased level of floating vegetation on the canal. Indian River Rowing club was very nice and let us launch out of their location today. It was a nice change of pace from the water treadmill in canal 54. To help keep track of time we counted channel markers today, using these is a much better gauge of time than tracking the sun across the sky.

Our morning practice was very productive with lots of drill and steady state. We focused on the last inch of the slide and its importance as we prepare for the drive. Today our boats had a little competitive battle paddle. This is when two boats race side by side as they jockey for an edge over the other. This gives us a little taste of spring racing and reminds us what we are practicing for every day.

A stingray took to the skies today for a second and fell back in to the water with a great splash while we spun our boat to head back. This was the last thing any of the women were expecting as we took at second to look around at the paradise we are rowing in. A pod of dolphins was also spotted while rowing at the evenings practice.

After the long morning practice we all came back to dodger town and had lunch at the pool. Once our bodies were refueled the post practice nap was a necessity for most of the rowers. Having practices twice a day can be hard but I know they are worth it in the end because it helps my form with all the water time we get. This week is just starting and we have already covered so many miles on the water. Seat racing for spots in to boats will take place over the next few days this week. This is a very challenging part of the week as our bodies are put to the test.

Day Two- Sunday, March 2, 2014


Josh Mizak ’17
Major: Nursing
Hometown: Grosse Ile, MI

Today was the first day having two practices that set the tone for how the rest of the week would go. We woke up and grabbed breakfast provided by Historic Dodgertown where we are staying. We headed off for practice at 8am and spent a couple of hours out on the water. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. The novice men practiced in a four and an eight doing technical work and playing a little leapfrog towards the end of this mornings practice. After getting off the water a great lunch was prepared and waiting for us.

This afternoon between practices we went to Walmart to pick up some food, supplies, and sunscreen! Back at the hotel most of the team spent the day hanging out by the pool. Some of us got a beach volleyball tournament going and even the coaches got involved.

At 4pm we left for the day’s second practice. There was a lot of native water vegetation that was somewhat problematic for our practice. Weeds got stuck in the rudder multiple times, but we managed to get some good strokes in. Concluding practice there was a gorgeous starry sky as we discussed plans for the following day. We went off and returned to the hotel to rest and prepare for the next day.


Brittany Gronda ’17
Major: Advertising/Communication
Hometown: Tawas City, MI

Yesterday after a super long bus ride, a long but awesome row, dinner, and a lot of laughter we were all finally able to get a good nights’ rest to prepare us for our first full day of rowing on Canal 54. Today’s forecast was a beautiful 79 degrees and sunny; MUCH better than what Michigan has to offer right now. Everyone’s day began at 7am with a nutritious breakfast provided by Historic Dodgertown. The fresh fruit was fantastic! We then gathered our bags and headed out to the canal for our first practice of the day.

The focus for the novice women was technique. We did some hands away and catch placement drills. In the launch with Coach Kelsey was this week’s guest, Coach Jim. Let me tell you, he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to all things rowing. He gave us some feedback on how technique is key and how we can improve ours to benefit the boat as a whole. When we got back to the practice site, an amazing lunch was provided to us by Coach Alyssa’s parents. They make the best salads and wraps! Our next practice was at 4 so the team lathered up with sunscreen, threw on our swimsuits and headed to the pool to refresh and soak up some sun.

The second practice was also focused on technique and went amazing I thought. Our boat was having great connections and the send of the boat was powerful. It was only the first full day and I am already exhausted. When people say they are going to Florida for Spring Break, they usually don’t mean they are going to work their butts off all week. Even though it is hard work, I wouldn’t ask to be anywhere else because it feels great to be having fun and working hard to achieve something great with this crazy team! Go GV!

Day One- Saturday, March 1, 2014

Checking Boats

David Blythe ’16
Major: Accounting/MIS
Hometown: Canton, MI

This years spring Break travel took quite a bit longer than last years to Oak Ridge, Tennessee but it was well worth the extra time now that we have arrived in Palm Bay. The trip down essentially consisted of 4 movies, 2 rest stops, and a whole lot of Pokemon. Rowing in the Florida weather was a welcome change from the snowy Michigan we came from too, thankfully I didn’t get sunburn at all today.

Today we experienced out first long steady state row of the spring. During our 3 hour long row we made it to both ends of the canal and were able to get all of it in before dark. The row consisted of lots of technical work as well as shaking off the cob webs from the long winter season. First, we started by rowing by fours, then sixes in the 8+ shells. Overall it was a very productive first day on Canal 54 for the Laker Navy.

Following the row the team went to the Indian River Mall Food Court for a team dinner of sorts. Most of the dinner’s consisted of chick-fil-a or subway.After we all got our fill of fried chicken and sandwiches we headed to our wonderful accommodations: historic dodger-town to check into our rooms. After we got settled with the rooms we got together for a team meeting and then got ready to sleep to prepare for all of the rowing that tomorrow has in store for us. Overall it was a very productive first day on Canal 54 for the Laker Navy and everyone is excited to see what the rest of the week has in store for us.


Carley Jensen ’16
Major: Criminal Justice
Hometown: Goodrich, MI

Part 1: The Journey to Palm Bay
Oh, Grand Valley Rowing bus rides… cankles are forming, snapchats and tweets are being sent, and complaints about the minimal leg room are being said. This 26 hour trip actually seemed to go by pretty quickly though in my opinion. We watched a couple of movies, laughed about ridiculous things, and a lot of naps were being taken. During the trip we were asked to look over the training plan for the week. Some people were even asking each other possible quiz questions that Coach B could ask us; man, we sure are a studious bunch! As we got closer to the launch site, everyone began to get antsy about the week and the long awaited ‘Darth Vader Row.’

Part 2: The First Time Out in Canal 54
When the bus pulled in, everyone filed out and made their way to the boats and of course, the restrooms. Each year the team starts off spring training trip with what Coach B calls the ‘Darth Vader Row’ which is a 30k row by 6’s to work on form and technique. The women’s varsity team went down the canal in two 8’s for half of practice with Coach B and his brother, Joe and worked on some outside hand only drills, wide grip drills, pause drills, and bucket drills. We then traded coaches with the Men’s team and worked on some slide drills focusing on our quads with Coach Alyssa and guest coach, Jim. We ended practice with an extremely competitive battle paddle and later found out that a couple alligators were spotted by the Men’s team on their row!

After practice, Doug, the world’s best bus driver, took the team to the mall so we could grab a bite to eat at the food court before the team meeting. Everyone dispersed throughout the food court and Chick-fil-A appeared to be the crowd favorite! When we finished dinner we came back to the famous Historical Dodgertown Sports Training Facility and went to our rooms to clean up. It is a great place and we are very lucky to have the opportunity to stay here during our intense week of training ahead of us. Although it is only the first day, and the rowing will be tough, I am looking forward to a great week with the Laker Navy or in other words, my best friends. Yeah SB 2014!

Advanced Lakers Arrive in Florida

SB 14

Lakers in the advanced van arrived in Florida today to begin on water training and to rig boats for the coming “Darth Vader Row” that will be held Saturday afternoon.The remainder of the team will be leaving Allendale at 3 pm today and making their way down to Florida by mid day tomorrow. Check back often to keep up with the Lakers during this years Spring Break training trip in sunny Palm Bay, Florida. As always, Keep pulling for the Laker Navy.

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