Spring Training Camp 2013 – Athletes’ Blog

Day Eight- Saturday, March 9th

Spring Training Camp Race

Athlete: Costas Ciungan
Major: Legal Studies
Hometown: Grosse Ile, MI

Today was the final day of spring break for the Laker Navy and after completing a fantastic week of milage and technical training, the Lakers had the opportunity to execute their training. The team departed for the morning practice around 7:00 AM. Today would be the warmest day of the trip and what a final day it would be. The varsity went out for a pre-race row, working on quickness at both ends of the stoke; one inch to one inch. Additionally, the varsity squad practiced a couple starts, took a couple tens, and rowed steady state. After two passes through the course, the team headed in to de-rig a couple boats and after made one final trip back to the hotel to check out. The varsity team would race the University of Louisville varsity women in the afternoon row, coached by Alumna and Olympian Sara Zelenka ’09 and former Coach and Alumni Mark Mcllduff.

In the afternoon row, the varsity raced several 1250 meter pieces against the University of Louisville varsity women. The varsity men also seat raced in the afternoon row against the University of Louisville. Directly after the row, the men’s varsity 8+ rowed a one thousand meter time trial. Everyone went for it and the result was a fast and productive day of rowing for the entire varsity team. For myself, I was excited to race in the afternoon as it presented an opportunity to test my training and to go fast. In addition, it was a distinct honor and pleasure to be in the company of alumnae Sara Zelenka and former Coach Mark Mcllduff. The legacy these two individuals have left behind as former members of the Laker Navy remains alive today and is engrained in the culture that is Grand Valley Rowing.

Mark Mcllduff was an assistant coach and novice men’s coach under head coach John Bancheri and rowed for the Laker Navy in the Henley Royal Regatta in 2010. Alumna Sara Zelenka rowed in the olympics this past summer and not only represented team U.S.A. to her highest ability, but in addition the Laker Navy and Grand Valley State University. They left behind a winning culture inspired by Head Coach John Bancheri, they represent what rowing at Grand Valley can do for those who participate, are patient, and strive each day to reach the highest level that they can aspire both academically and athletically. Overall, this spring training trip has been very productive for the entire team; evident by rowers who perfected their technique one stroke at a time. The process continues for the Laker Navy because although the spring training trip is over, the spring season has just begun. Check grandvalleyrowing.com often for the latest news and results and as always – Keep Pulling for the Laker Navy!

Varsity Women Racing

Athlete: Kylen Pattermann
Major: Anthropology
Hometown: Elburn, Illinois

After a long week of disappointing weather, with the high temperature rarely going above 45 or so and long sleeves a necessity, today’s weather was so welcome. It was warm and sunny and for once we were able to dispense with the layers and bask in the warmth. For the first time, today felt like spring break.

Of course, now myself and several others are paying for it with some wicked sunburns. As I type my hands, arms, and legs are still prickling and aching in protest. As unpleasant as it is, I remember the other bitterly cold rows, such as Tuesday night, when my feet were so cold and numb I walked over gravel barefoot and felt nothing. I would much rather have the sunburn.

Practice today was a culminating experience of everything we have accomplished this week. After a brief row this morning, my boat and I were feeling pretty confident about our pieces this afternoon. Our four would be racing with two other fours from Grand Valley and two from Louisville. The Varsity Women’s 8+ was racing Louisville’s 8’s and our men’s fours. The women’s crews did 5 pieces, each 1250 meters long. The pieces were roughly five minutes long, give or take depending on the boat, and the practice went by quickly (perhaps why I didn’t notice my skin slowly reddening…).

Despite the cold, and the fact that Tennessee is most definitely NOT Florida, there was so much good about this week (weather not included). We had terrific lunches provided by Tyler Sellmer’s parents everyday – everything from soup, chicken sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, sloppy joes, fruit, salad, delicious desserts, and more than enough to make sure that none of us went hungry. I think I ate better this week than I do at home most of the time. We had an excellent visiting coach, Josip, who joined our coaches to give us more valuable insight, especially welcome from someone who doesn’t watch us row everyday. Despite the sunburn, raw hands and sore muscles, I know I am going home with a jump on the start of spring season and some great technical advice to keep practicing in the upcoming weeks.

I can’t wait to start racing.

Novice Men Racing

Athlete: Scott Thorbjornsen
Major: Allied Health Sciences
Hometown: Bangor, MI

The novice team got up at 6:00 AM this morning to complete several race pieces against the University of Pennsylvania . We started with a 1000 meter piece. Then we raced a a couple 250 meters pieces at least for the next three pieces. The University of Pennsylvania sat their top freshman crew, who competes with their varsity squad. Our boat stayed with them pretty well. The novice men actually beat UPENN a couple times. After the racing had concluded, we had some time to rest before we went on a long row in the afternoon. We did our racing in the morning and the varsity team did their race pieces in the afternoon. On the way up the river, we had some frustrating moments as the boat was offset several times. The way back to the docks was much smoother though emphasizing focus. All in all, this week was a good experience and I think every learned a lot and has a technical base to work from.


Athlete: Justin Ebert

Our fleet of vans is drawing a bit more attention than it did when it embarked for Tennessee. On top of the van in which I am riding, we have strapped a four and pair. It might seem strange that this is the case when Grand Valley has a 5-tier boat trailer, but it makes sense when considering that we are transporting nearly 30 boat shells, as well as all of our other equipment. I have been assured that carrying the boats on the roof of the van above me is both legal and safe. Also, upon certain requests, I am obliged to say that Chad Condon is a highly competent driver, and that Andrew Zwierzinski (Taco) is an equally fine driver’s assistant. Fortunately for the occupants of this van, both statements are true. As such, the rest of my comrades and I feel confident we shall arrive home unscathed and in due course.

So far, my fellow passengers and I have engaged in a number of collaborative activities. One of these has been discussing the degree of/feelings associated with our sunburn. While many of us regret our neglect to apply sunblock today, we can’t very well complain that our last day of Spring Break training was marked by clear skies, warm temperatures, and relatively flat water. Remembering that the week was dominated by morning temperatures in the 30’s and afternoons in the 40’s, today’s weather was a very pleasant way to finish off the week.

Other than discussing the damage we have allowed to be inflicted upon our epithelial tissue, some of us have started playing cards, watching movies, listening to music, texting friends in other parts of the caravan, or have even sleeping already. Given that we were up early, put in solid work on the water, and spent hours in the sun, the general air in the van is one of calmness as it becomes darker and we continue our trip homeward.

Coaching Launches Set for Home

Athlete: Jordan Crendall
Major: International Relations
Fremont MI

As I write this, I am curled up in the backseat of a 15 passenger van with pillows and blankets, duffel bags and water bottles strewn about. Our spring break trip is coming to a close and the occupants of my van are anxiously waiting for the next rest stop. This morning was our last morning practice and everyone was especially happy with the opportunity to put all of our hard work to the test with a scrimmage against Louisville’s Varsity Women. With perfect temperatures and sunshine, all GV crews took to the course and had a great morning row.

Once we come off the race course is when the real work begins as we have what seems to be the impossible task of loading the trailer. It never ceases to amaze me how we can fit that much equipment into that compact area, but somehow we do. Thanks Tyler for organizing and making the impossible possible!

I think we are driving somewhere in Kentucky right now, by the looks of the “Florence Y’all” water tower we just passed, I think I am right. Every couple of seconds, we hit another pothole and I get a couple seconds of airtime. Van rides are especially interesting, you put your patience to the test by confining yourself in a small space with 12 other people. You put your stomach to the test with Sun Chips and gas station hot dogs and you test your bladder because you do not really know when we are going to stop again. We are the strangest caravan you have ever seen. With three white vans, a truck and trailer, and then two vehicles hauling launches we are not exactly an ideal travel group. However we are bringing up the rear and we hope to be home by the early morning. It has been a great spring break and we are looking forward to the upcoming spring season!

Day Seven- Friday, March 8th

Team Shot

Athlete: Becca Studer ’13
Major: Liberal Studies (Pre-Occupational Therapy)
Hometown: Ypsilanti, Mi

Today was the last full day of training this spring break, and after a long row yesterday evening, it was nice to wake up to sunshine! It was one of the nicer days we have had here, and we were able to get in two productive sessions. In the morning we worked on some drills that helped us with our catches and the top end of our stroke, and this evening we got to work on starts. It felt great to go fast again and I can really feel that we are all excited to race!

This spring break has been one different from others that I have been on (in sunny florida). I never thought I would be wearing more than 4 layers on my senior spring break, but despite the difficult weather, we got in some great competitive seat racing and really productive technical practices. Between practices we have been able to enjoy WONDERFUL lunches from Tyler’s family. In addition, coach Bancheri’s friend Nancy has been instrumental in making sure we have our breakfasts. Doug, the bus driver, has been great as always! After lunch, we have been able to come back to the hotel most days for some rest…In the senior room, we have been joking about how old we feel. That is, after our daily afternoon nap.

With a couple of the most trying and cold rows having happend on this spring break (but also a couple of really fun and fast ones), I keep thinking “I don’t always love rowing, but I always love the teammates I row with.” We all have moments where rowing is frustrating, whether it is because we are working on some difficult technique, rowing for a long time (3 hours), trying to get faster, or just plain cold. And, for all of these lows, there are an equal number of highs which are the reasons that we stick with it. But the one constant for me are the teammates that I have come to call my best friends. After a cold, long, frustrating practice, there is nothing better than crashing for two hours and then getting up and laughing with your friends. And after a sunny, short practice, there is nothing like devouring Qdoba burritos in less than 5 minutes…something none of us will be able to do once we are not rowing anymore. I know I won’t always row, but I have realized that I will always be able to have fun with these wonderful people.

This last spring break has been a cold but very good “beginning of the end” to my last spring season. I absolutely cannot wait to race!

Laker Navy Training

Athlete: Greg Quante
Major: Business
Hometown: Rochester Michigan

After almost a full week of cold, rainy weather today brought much needed warmth and sunshine. Granted, it’s not the “spring break weather” that we had all hoped and dreamed for but it is a much-appreciated improvement over this past week’s weather. We have done a lot of rowing this week and the novice men’s hands are pretty torn up. Nevertheless the men continue to row hard making vast improvements both on and off the water. We still have a long way to go before we are fully prepared. With that being said we still have a day or so of break to really hone in those important rowing techniques. As winter comes to a close and spring sets in, the novice teams will continue their hard work in anticipation for their first set of spring races. With hard work and daily improvement both teams will be well prepared to perform in these upcoming races.

Day Six – Thursday, March 7th

Three Hour Row

Athlete: Jordan Hart
Major: Exercise Science
Hometown: Algonac, MI

This spring has been a unique trip. As a senior, this is the first time we’ve come to Oak Ridge for spring training. I must say it is not as warm as Florida, (actually it’s about as warm as Michigan) but the water has been great and there are miles of water for us to row on – plus no alligators or sunburns to worry about (just frostbite).

Regardless of the weather, there are no words for how great it felt to be back on the water in a boat. For rowers, winter training is a time to excel physically and build strength and endurance for the upcoming spring season. As a coxswain, it’s easy to get the winter blues so spring training is a much anticipated event as it starts a new season on the water.

After taking a day off to give the rowers some rest, we go back on the water for two very productive rows. The weather was a little more cooperative than a couple days ago. Morning practice focused on technique while the afternoon was spent doing some long steady state. We rowed for about 24 miles total this evening and the last 12 was done in an hour (i.e. pretty fast). The athletes really pushed themselves that last hour and I know their legs felt it tonight and they will definitely feel it tomorrow as well.

Lots of progress has been made thus far and I am looking forward to the spring and speed!

Varsity 4+

Athlete: Spencer West
Major: Allied Health Sciences
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

After a fun day off from practice, the team woke up today with fresh legs, ready to row and return to the water once again. While the freshmen enjoyed an extra hour of sleep, the varsity squads left for the race course at 8 a.m. for our first practice of the day. The varsity men went out in fours with the women’s eight with Coach Bancheri and Coach Josip for a lot of great technical work. We spent most of the morning piecing out the different parts of the stroke, with everybody making noticeable technical improvements.

By the time we got off the water, strapped down the boats, and finished a much needed lengthy team stretch, sandwiches and a variety of hot soups were prepared for lunch at the course before heading back to the hotel. Once back at the hotel, everybody relaxed in preparation for the evening’s workout. After napping and refueling, we made our way back to the race course for the second practice of the day at 3:30 p.m.

In the same boats and lineups we were in at the morning practice, we all launched, knowing it would be quite some time before we would return to land. Rowing upstream by all fours, we worked on bringing the blades out of the water and hitting the parts of the recovery with our crews before turning around. After an hour and a half and now being a very long ways from the dock, we knew we had our work cut out for us on the way back. The row back to the dock took slightly less time, but most of that was due to the “battle paddle,” trying to see who could be the first boat back. When we finally docked a little over an hour later, everybody was extremely exhausted and ready to head back to the hotel to recover.

When we arrived at the hotel, a pizza dinner had already been delivered to the lobby for us, which we brought up to our rooms and quickly consumed. Finally, we were able to clean up and make a short trip to the grocery store for some small needs before enjoying the rest of our night. Back at the hotel again, some of us played cards and games while others simply rested or walked around before heading to bed to prepare for tomorrow’s workload.

Day Five – Wednesday, March 6th

Athlete: Kyle Barnhart
Major: Geography
Hometown: Comstock Park, MI

After four days of long practices, seat racing, and technical rows, the team had a day off to recuperate and explore Oak Ridge. Much of the team visited the American Museum of Science and Energy where we not only learned about different energy sources, but also about the history of Oak Ridge.

The city of Oak Ridge did not exist before World War II and the area was sparsely populated and very rural. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States expanded its research and development aimed at creating the atomic bomb. In 1942 the government took over the rural area between the Clinch River and the Great Smokey Mountains for the Manhattan Project, creating a secret compound for uranium enrichment and research. They built three research facilities along with all the amenities of a city including schools, a theater, homes, and more. The city, known as the secret city, appeared on no map, was heavily guarded, and was quickly occupied by thousands workers. The Y-12 plant at Oak Ridge created the core of enriched uranium (about the size of a soccer ball) that was used in both atomic bombs dropped on Japan. Today the Y-12 National Security Complex serves as a major U.S. research laboratory in new energy sources, super computing, biology, national defense, and nuclear technology and materials. It was incredibly interesting to learn about the history of our host city and the role it played in ending World Way II.

We all enjoyed the day off, using the time to explore the city, catch up on homework, or just rest, but look forward to getting back on the water. The first four days have been beneficial and the team continues to make great strides as we work towards a high level of technical competence and boat speed.

Grand Valley Rowing Oars

Athlete: Andrea Nadjarian
Hometown: Rochester, MI

The week has been extremely beneficial to the whole team and especially the novice women because it provided another opportunity for team bonding ,to get some rest, and to work on homework. We have finally rowed on the feather and then by all eight earlier this week. Many of the novice women’s practices have focused on technical work and posture, and have progressed towards a more difficult and fast pace practice; where timing is key.

Today was a rest day and most of the team went to a nearby mall, or the Museum of Science and Energy. I joined the group who went to the museum, which is about the history of Oak Ridge, the Manhattan Project, and the construction of the Atomic Bomb. It was enjoyable team bonding day for the whole crew. In addition, the trip to the museum was educational and a great way to spend our day off from practice. On our way back from the museum, the vans stopped so we could take pictures by the Y-12 National security complex sign. Then, coach Bancheri insisted we stop for ice cream. The day ended on a high note, and even though we did not have practice, it was a productive day. Additionally, it was nice to know of Oak Ridge’s historical significance.

Day Four – Tuesday, March 5th

Athlete: Justin Wegner
Major: Natural Resource Management
Hometown: East Grand Rapids, MI

Today was round two of seat racing for the varsity men. Despite the cold weather and rain, we headed out in our new Vespoli fours for a number of pieces to finish out preliminary selection for the week. Lots of guys brought their A game and shook things up. After practice we came in wet and cold but excited to hear the results of the races. Over a hot lunch Coach told us the results before we headed back to the hotel for a few hours of much needed rest.

We loaded up the vans and headed back to the course around 4:00 PM for a second practice and we were pleasantly surprised to hear we would be rowing eights. We headed out for a technical row with guest coach Josip Stolar for some individualized coaching focusing on the outside hand, forward body preparation, and a smooth relaxed recovery. Thankfully the weather cleared up while we were on the water and did not pick up again until we were on our way back in.

Today was a very productive day in Oak Ridge making progress not only on our racing and execution in the morning, but also slowing things down to focus on the basics during our row in the afternoon. Despite the chilly weather, the venue is arguably the most conductive to rowing of all the training trips I have been on. It is so nice to have a fully buoyed course as well as miles of waters to row on. I am looking forward to making more headway training this week; setting us up for a great spring season.

Novice Men

Athlete: David Blythe
Major: Accounting/MIS
Hometown: Canton, MI

The novice men are having a great week in Oak Ridge. Today started off as usual except for the fact that it was raining most of the day. Despite wet weather, the water conditions were descent. The novice men got up, had breakfast, and were off to practice around 9:00 AM. The morning practice consisted of rowing by sixes on the feather, which marks the first day we have been rowing on the feather thus far. There were two novice mens’ eights with coxswain. Molly our coxswain did a great job for us today considering the wet weather and their limited physical activity. The novice men worked on different drills focusing on the feather and hitting the catch with rhythm and ratio. The novice men along with the entire team, enjoyed a lunch set up by the Sellmer family and Nancy, after which the team headed back to the hotel.

The afternoon practice for the novice men started around 4:30 PM. and we rowed in eights by sixes and progressed to rowing all eights on the feather. The novice men worked on timing and balance as we rowed all eight for the first time this spring training trip. The afternoon’s practice was not the best because of the weather, but overall the novice men gained experience rowing in the rain and learned that mastering anything takes time, patience, and focus. With the afternoon practice done, the novice men went back to the hotel and then had dinner at Cracker Barrel. The team looks forward to a much needed rest day tomorrow.

Day Three – Monday, March 4th

Seat Racing GV Rowing

Victoria Lloyd
Major: Engineering
Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI

Today the varsity squad seat raced here at Oak Ridge. Both the men and women left before the novice team to get our pieces started early. After four 1250 meter pieces, we all split up into smaller boats for a flush/technique row. We then went back to the hotel to rest before heading back out to finish up with an afternoon practice. While the men went out to finish their last two pieces, the women walked with Coach Bancheri down to the finish line. We all needed that relaxing row, not only to get an extra stretch in, but to hang out, talk, and laugh!

This may sound silly, but it is rows and days like these that make me so thankful for the opportunities that rowing brings. The friends, the trips, the hard work – it brings so much joy.

The team is looking forward to the rest of the week. It is fun to see our hard work from this past winter show up on the water. Grand Valley is back on the water and ready for this spring season!

Novice Women

Athlete: Lexie Benton
Major: Business Management
Hometown: Kingsley, MI

Athlete: Brynn Pline
Hometown: Tewamo, MI

The novice women have been getting a lot of experience so far this week rowing in eights and focusing on different aspects of the rowing stroke. The team had practice this morning around 8:30 A.M. Today was the warmest day in Oak Ridge Tennessee thus far, which made it a perfect day for rowing as the sun was out. Many members on my team got a slight sun tan. The morning practice was very productive for the novice women as we rowed on the square by sixes and worked on different pause drills highlighting the pivot and slide to the catch. After the morning practice, the whole team enjoyed lunch and headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest.

The afternoon practice started at 4:00 P.M. and the novice women rowed by sixes again trying to put the technical gains from the morning into action. The novice, similar to the varsity, did a couple competitive pieces by all sixes. Between pieces, we focused on technique by rowing steady state by sixes at a nice easy 4 to 1 ratio. Charlotte, who just started coxing for the novice women three days ago did a fantastic job and docked exceptionally well – Keep up the good work Charlotte!. The novice women ate dinner at Cracker Barrel. It was our second time eating there in the past three days, but it is convenient because it is right next to our hotel. The night ended with watching the Bachelor and hanging out as a team.

Day Two – Sunday, March 3rd

Specialty Pizza for Rowers

Athlete: Chad Condon
Major: Management
Hometown: East Grand Rapids, MI

This morning, the team got up, had breakfast and left for practice around 8:30 AM. The varsity men were in fours and the varsity women were in eights. The team focused on the recovery with an emphasis on slide control. The lakers finished the morning practice competitively as different pairs in each boat raced each other. After practice, lunch was provided for the team. The team headed back to the hotel for rest and relaxation.

The evening practice started at 3:00 PM for the varsity men who were in pairs. The men had a technique row reemphasizing the morning row. In addition the evening row gave rowers the opportunity to learn from and coach ourselves along with each other. The varsity women practiced in fours in the evening with the same focus. Today was a great day overall as it marks the beginning for two brand new Vespoli fours with coxswain. One boat is named after former grand valley rowing team mate Rachel Ring 1991-2011 and the other is the new and improved Richard Laurence. Today was a fantastic day of rowing and team bonding. The rowers ejoyed specialty pizza for dinner and looks forward to what tomorrow brings.

Racheal Ring First Row
First Row of the Rachel Ring

Day One – Saturday, March 2nd

GV Rowing Arrives

Athlete: Costas Ciungan
Major: Legal Studies
Hometown: Grosse Ile, Mi

The Grand Valley rowing team arrived this morning in Oak Ridge, TN for the start of spring training camp. After arriving, the Lakers got boats rigged and went for the first official practice. The varsity men took out two eights and went for a long steady state row focusing on posture. After practice we had a outstanding team lunch set up by parents. Special thanks to the Sellmer family for setting up and providing lunch. With the travel complete and the team and equipment’s successful arrival, all the elements are in the right place for a productive week of training. As web manager, I invite you to check www.grandvalleyrowing.com often for the latest news and pictures as we progress through the week. On behalf of the entire team, I would like to thank guest coach Josip Stolar for being with us on this trip and providing his insight as a coach and former national and international competitor. Keep pulling for the Laker Navy.

Sellmer Family

Sellmer Family

Austin Abrams
Major: Nursing
Hometown: Eastpointe, MI

After finally finishing a week of hard studying and midterms, the rowing team was rewarded by going to Tennessee for spring break. We left Friday at 9:00 PM and got here on Saturday morning around 8:00 AM. When the bus arrived at the boat house in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, we did not spend a single second messing around; everyone got changed right away, rigged the boats, and let the rowing begin! It was great to finally be on the water again after about three straight months of hard work in the Rowing Training Center. The novice men rowed in two eights with coxswain and our first practice consisted of steady 4 to 1 ratio bucket racing. After about 20,000 Meters, I was anxious to get back in because it was slightly cold and the team had just completed a long tiring bus trip before the row.

Once all the boats came back in and all the equipment was accounted for, the entire team enjoyed an awesome lunch that consisted of pulled pork sandwiches, soup, fruit, and desert. The entire Grand Valley rowing team was satisfied and thanked those parents who set up lunch. After lunch, the team settled into our hotels and right away I took a shower. After which I slept because I personally could not sleep on the bus ride up. I woke up by several of my friends and team mates pounding on my door wanting to go to dinner that I had forgot about. I then got dressed and my team and I made our way to Cracker Barrel, which is right next to the hotel. Later after dinner, everyone got together with their friends and had fun for the rest of the night and got settled in, until going to bed in anticipation for tomorrow’s practice

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