Winter Training Camp Athlete’s Daily Blog 2015 – 2016


2015 – 2016 Winter Training Wrap Up

Scott Thorbjornsen, President GVSU Rowing Club

Hometown: Bangor, MI

Major: Speech Pathology

By planes, trains, and automobiles the Laker Navy returns home after 10 days of technical rowing in sunny Tampa, FL. Reflecting back on the trip there are many highlights. A few are the warm weather, the couple beach days we had, and the quality time spent with teammates. That includes walking along the Tampa Riverwalk enjoying the sights of the city, cramming ice cream into our mouths, and celebrating New Year’s with fireworks. The trip wasn’t all sunshine and beaches though. Most days involved waking up with the sun to perfect our technique by listening to our coach give Olympic level chalk talks and then put those words into action on the water. With our coaches explaining the stroke from the launch we watches our blades to make sure it was following the perfect path. Everyone took advantage of the time this week to focus on their stroke and be more effective in the water. At the end of each day we were mentally and physically exhausted. It was made better by the awesome food provided by parents and alumni. We are the best fed crew around and because of that we were able to perform well everyday.

A few days we had the opportunity to increase our engines and workout on the ergs. Although we initially were down about erging the whole team picked each other up and pushed forward to produce fast results that will give us an edge when spring racing comes around. With everyday we grew faster and closer as a team. This trip helps create a team culture that brings lots of success. We learned what Lombardi time was from guest coach Joe Haney and how we had been using it without knowing what it was and realizing that our attitudes coming into practice can affect the productivity of the team. These lessons will go a long way not only in rowing but in our future careers.

This whole trip was a complete success. The food, weather, coaching staff, including our guest coaches Joe Haney and Vinnie Puma, and the support of our parents and alumni this trip could only have been successful. Thank you to all who help the Laker Navy. We appreciate everything you do. Now I take my leave, although I will miss the warm weather, Michigan is calling my name.

Coaching Staff and Supporter Bob Monhan
(left to right) Coach Alison Sobiech, Coach Michelle Goodwin, Coach Costas Ciungan, Head Coach John Bancheri, Alumni and Supporter Bob Monahan, and Guest Coach Joe Haney

Costas Ciungan ’14, Assistant Men’s Coach

Hometown: Grosse Ile, MI

This Winter Training Trip concludes with a team stronger and technically better. Tim Duncan once stated “Good, Better, Best . Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.” That is the exact culture we are trying to build in Grand Valley Rowing. Every athlete always striving to be the best they are capable of becoming both academically and athletically. As a coach, I look to help build that culture and to improve athletic capacity. Between the equipment, the coaching, the coxswains, the student-athletes, and the many blogs, it is evident that this is not a one person production, but a team effort both in terms of learning and improving technique. From coaches instruction to athletes learning from each other, this Winter Training Trip has been a great success and we owe it to all of our dedicated student athletes as well as our donors and supporters, our success is truly yours.

Special Thanks to Bob Monahan and surrounding alumni for providing lunch, as well as the Homeister and Goodwin families who provided dinner. In addition, Special Thanks to guest coach Joe Haney, guest coach Vinnie Puma, and guest coach John Reichner.
Through out the week I have seen athletes improve in Posture, Timing, Control, Balance, Bladework, and the development of touch as many had an opportunity to analyze their rowing and get individual coaching attention.

This trip I mostly worked with the varsity men’s program and a small group of novice men. The women’s and men’s team both had a mix of older varsity members and a developmental group of newer rowers in regards to experience. The result was a lot of learning, as older rowers helped the newer rowers, and a stronger team was the result along with a successful Winter Training Trip.

The Coaching was another aspect that made this Winter Training Trip a success with four coaches and three guest 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 broke down the rowing stroke and further developed the understanding of how every aspect of rowing flows together. Many athletes, especially the younger group in terms of experience, learned how each aspect builds upon the other. I was thrilled with the amount dedication and focus to the details and to see each athlete helping each other out.


As for myself, I was happy to see a great group of athletes including four novice men learn from one another, and develop better technique. I feel that many developed a sense of rhythm and touch as many novice rowers saw improvements in their rowing and learned a lot over this winter training trip. This attitude and culture of our team to never give less than your best and to always stay in the pursuit of perfection was evident in the athletes’ attentiveness during chalk talks and video review along with thoughtful questions and a desire for feedback.

I am so thankful I was able to be on this trip to coach, learn, and teach. In addition, I am happy to share with all of our supporters 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 our student-athletes. The Coaching Staff and Laker Navy are thankful and are looking forward to the great new year and rowing season ahead. Keep pulling for the Laker Navy.


Thursday, January 7th

Athlete: Christopher Doherty ’17

Hometown: Traverse City, MI

Major: Clinical Exercise Science

It has been a bittersweet ending to our annual winter training trip. A lot of hard work was put in by all, and every stroke was another critical step for success in the Spring.

We all had an early wake up today with practice at 7 AM this morning. For our final row of the week, the team participated in the first annual Island Regatta. This inter-squad race had each boat complete two laps of Harbour Island; this competition had us emphasize propulsion per stroke at only 22 strokes per minute. One of the most challenging aspects of this final row was the course itself. Featuring two turns of over ninety degrees, a coxswains course could make or break a single run. A tough but fitting end to our time on the water, the improvements made by all could be easily seen.

After a quick and efficient trailer loading session, those left all piled in vans and headed to sunny Clearwater beach. A fun and relaxing end to our time in Flordia, the athletes of the club were scattered around playing volleyball, beach soccer, swimming, and exploring the surrounding downtown area. Everyone was soaking up the last bit of sun they could before returning to the frigid North. We are very fortunate to be able to train in such an ideal location and have the time to have fun next to the beautiful ocean.

I will be flying out tomorrow morning along with a few of my teammates, saying goodbye to Tampa for another year. For me, this week has been a way to not only improve my fitness and rowing ability, but also to bond with my team; it was especially nice to get to know the novice who earned their way onto this trip. A big thank you to all who made this possible: guest coach Joe Haney, guest coach Vinnie Puma, guest coach John Reichner, the alums who provided lunch, the Homeisters, the Goodwins… the list goes on and on. Its really amazing how much support we get and how far we can and will go with it.

Until next time Tampa!

Athlete: Libby Bradt ’18

Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Today was the last practice on the water until spring break. Instead of working on technique, the plan was to take a field trip around the smaller of the two islands. This field trip was a way to use every thing that we have learn on the trip so far. With a rate at 22 spm each of the boats set off on the trek. The starts of each of the boats were staggered to give a fair chance to all. The Women’s 2V started off first followed by the 1V, the men’s boats followed after. When the first lap was completed, switches were made. Then we set off for another lap. The team was prepared for three laps but after the second one, Coach B called for all the boats to link together for the annual end of trip photo. Then we headed back to the docks on this channel for the last time. Boats came off the water and were washed off and de rigged. The process of loading the trailer had begun. Trailer loading had some challenges but once those were solved it was finished. The team walked back to the hotel from the site for the last time.

For all those that were not flying home today, had one last beach day in Clear Water. Vans were loaded and left for the beach by 1 pm. The trip to the beach was filled with excitement since the sun decided to peak out from behind the clouds. The vans were unloaded faster than they were loaded. Everyone was just happy to be by the gulf for another time. Belongings were placed down and a group walked off to the nearby volleyball courts. Other groups laid out on their towels to soak in the last of rays they could. Even though we are mainly rowers, we like to attempt to play other sports including frisbee, volleyball, and football. By the time the team left the beach everyone was tuckered out and ready to be back at the hotel. The task of packing up everything had begun. As the last of the team leaves the wonderful city of Tampa tomorrow. We reflect on all the things that were learned on this great but hard training trip.


Wednesday, January 6th

Athlete: Dominic Biolochini ’18

Hometown: Oxford, CA

Major: Elementary Education

Today started as the last few have, a bit chilly. The JV men and women went right at it with their 3 X 4K pieces. At the same time the Varsity Men and Women went out on the water for a long steady state row. Today’s morning row focused on the length at the catch. After the row the Varsity Men and Women swapped places with the JV squad and began their 3 X 4K pieces. Great improvements were had by all as most everyone improved from last Wednesday’s pieces here in FL as well.

With a break in between practices we were served another awesome lunch provided by the alumni. BBQ for the second day in a row was splendid. Our last practice of the day was another technical row that helped to work out some of that lactic acid built up from a hard set of pieces. As the technical trip comes to a close with only one more row tomorrow morning we all have made improvements in the stroke and especially with our cardio.

Athlete: Sara Loughman ’19

Hometown: Saline, MI

Major: Undecided

Today was our last full day of practice. We started out our morning with a quick skill and drill row and then moved on to our final ergo of the trip, a 3X3K. This erg piece really shows what progress our team has made since the beginning of the year. Although it was a struggle, some athletes really proved themselves in today’s workout.

After our morning practice, some GVSU rowing alumni provided the team with a great barbecue lunch. It was some good food and a good time with the team. Among these alumni was the first ever student admitted to the university.

After a quick afternoon nap, I went back out for practice. There was a little rain, but it quickly cleared up. We were all still pretty tired from the morning work out, but after a few lineup changes, we went out and had a good practice. After practice everyone all sat together on the hall and ate some pizza and shortly after that we had a vote for captains for the rest of the season. The trip is almost over and I am definitely ready to go home, but I will definitely miss spending time with my team. I feel like we have all improved so much in such a short amount of time.

Athlete: Julia Glenn, 19′

Hometown: Grosse Pointe, MI

Major: Education

Today we met by the boats around 7:30 AM in order to be on the water at 8:00 AM. As a team we circled up and began to stretch. After our muscles were warmed up we got in the Vespoli 8 boat and started out with swing pick working our way to full slide. On the water we focused on the reach into the rigger and Coach B with the help of the guest coaches assisted me in squaring the blade earlier before being in the catch position.

After our work on the water we stretched around the trailer and grabbed a quick snack then headed over to the ergs. Today we had to do a 3 x 4K, which was expected to be 2 seconds slower than our erg scores from Saturday’s past 3 x 3K score. The erg was a tough one for the team since our bodies have been working so hard each day down in Tampa. Although it was a difficult practice we pushed through and many teammates were able to accomplish and achieve the set goal. After we were directed to the poolside of the hotel and what we had waiting for us was an amazing lunch from the Alumni at Grand Valley State University. They were so thoughtful to bring us wonderful bbq!

Since it was a bit cloudy in Tampa most of the teammates headed into their hotel for a nap or just some rest time before the afternoon practice. The afternoon practice consisted of skill and drill work focusing on backing in the blade and getting as much length as possible. The day ended with the crew eating pizza in the hallway in the hotel and voting for our Spring team captains.

It has not only been such a learning experience down in Tampa but also a great rewarding time for the team to bond as a whole.


Tuesday, January 5th

Athlete: Austin Gentry ’16

Hometown: Corona, CA

Major: Philosophy

I arrived in Tampa about half way through the trip (due to a wedding) but that didn’t stop my team from training very methodically and deliberately for the better part of a week. With that said, I had to jump right in the boat with them and train at the high level that they have been doing so well for a week before I got here. I have a lot of time to make up for them, and for myself, and my body has definitely reflected jumping right into the intensity of several practices a day—walking and crawling out of bed alone is labored to say the least. I am proud of them for putting the work in at the highest level in my absence and seeing their scores improve so heavily and by so much has definitely given me inspiration and they’ve set the bar very high. Living up to the status of such a hard working team and individuals is a challenge for me personally every day, but I really strive to be a good teammate and reflect positivity as much as I can.

It’s so obvious to me that we are already rowing at a much higher level than this time last year and my team’s work ethic is directly correlated with that. I am excited for the season to come and for us to constantly strive for perfection, because with that mindset we will become excellent. A lot of these guys have never won a collegiate race and that’s something that I intend on influencing this year. I’m pulling for the guys in front of me and behind me every day. This is my last chance to have a positive influence on Grand Valley Rowing and I plan on going out with a bang, breaking new barriers, records, and winning/celebrating races with my team.

Athlete: Amy Anderson ’18

Hometown: Okemos, MI

Major: Therapeutic Recreation

Today we were lucky enough to have Vinny Puma, a former coxswain for the United States National Rowing team, accompany us on the beautiful waters of the Tampa Bay. The Grand Valley coxswains got to soak up his knowledge as he told stories and gave advice from many years in the sport of rowing. In the afternoon practice I, a coxswain, got the honor of rowing for the first time in mixed four. I rowed with two varsity men (Vince Amatangelo and Chris Nelson) and a novice woman (Faith Fleming) while Coach Allison coxed. It was interesting to see the boat from a different perspective and not from the coxswain seat.

After another day on the water we all came together for a team dinner, provided by Coach Goodwin’s family. We have eaten so well this trip, the happy demeanor of the team reflects this. We are all very lucky to be able to row in such a beautiful place and be put in such a situation. I can’t wait to get on the water again tomorrow.

Athlete: Cass Bruins, 19′

Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO

Major: Athletic Training

Today started off colder than expected, how ever the clouds and winds didn’t stray our focus from what we are here to do; become better athletes and teammates in the boat. The main focus with our stationary drills this morning was to keep the hands on a level plane through the recovery and the drive. In the novice women’s 8 we struggled in the beginning to keep the hands level and the boat set but as we continued everything fell into place.

In between practice a few of us took a nice leisurely walk to McDonalds on the other side of Tampa. Quite the walk but it was worth it for the French fries.

During the second practice of the day, we had two 30 minute pieces. The novice women did very well in applying all we have learned this week to the pieces and kept with the varsity boat for a majority of each piece. Luckily the sun came out for the second practice and we didn’t come off the water shivering as we did this morning, a great relief for us unprepared novices. To end the day, Coach Michelle’s wonderful family made up an awesome BBQ dinner for the team, which was much appreciated !
All in all, this trip has been such a great opportunity to make everyone better individually as well as a program together.


Monday, January 4th

Athlete: Chris Nelson ’17

Hometown: Fort Wayne, IN

Major: Mechanical Engineering

The first day of the week was chilly; waking up for the morning row my phone kindly informed me it was a balmy 50 degrees. Luckily I was in colder climes earlier in break, and had a long sleeve shirt to wear for our morning row. We got to the course and listened to Coached B’s trademark chalk talk, instructing us on the finer points of bladework and striking from the balance. We went out in pairs, rowing to our accustomed spot in front of the Tampa Convention Center, doing drive progression drills in large circles that turned into squiggles as we avoided playing bumper boats. We went in for our break, and were pleasantly surprised with donuts!

After half a donut, some water and a slight wardrobe change to adjust to the slowly climbing temps, we were on the water again. Vince and I took out a pair, rowing inland for some solid steady state. Navigating the many bridges was a little stressful with the wind up, but the light boat traffic made things easier.

Once we got in we had a hurried lunch at the hotel, everyone was excited to spend some quality time at Clearwater Beach, the favored place for rowers to play in the ocean. The wind was up and it was chilly, but the water was warm. The water conditions were ‘yellow’ meaning swimmers should be cautious, there was noticeable current and the waves were 4-6 feet. In my worldview, perfect conditions to play in the waves. Shelby and I were the first ones out, and we had a great time in the surf. Once tired we went in and I ventured to Walgreens to get a snack with a small group. Once we had food the massive horde of seagulls came to investigate, we decided to mess with them. I lay out under a towel and Drew set a potato chip on it. They dove in to get it, and I tossed the towel onto one! It sat still under the towel, surprisingly clam. I pulled the towel off and it flew away. After a good snack, we found a volleyball and played a few games. The wind made serving a challenge, but we made it work. In my downtime on the beach I dug a long deep trench to lay in to avoid the wind.

Weights, which were scheduled to be done once we got back were put off until tomorrow morning. Everyone was pleased to hear that. We cleaned up and readied ourselves for dinner provided by the gracious Mr. and Mrs. Homeister . It was turkey, rice, salad, bread and cookies for a sweet finish. It was perfect way to end the day.

Athlete: Hollie Bellinger ’18

Hometown: Hadley, MI

Major: English

7 a.m. Wake up, quickly eat, dress for practice, walk to practice, get launch boats on dock, load launch boats, stretch, chalk talk, unstrap boats, grab boats, bear the burden when two girls drop off to grab oars, and finally we get the boat in the water, and can begin practice. Unlike most days here in Tampa, Florida we have been promised a beach day after the double practice in the morning. At the first part of practice we worked on the the last six inches of the slide and applying power once the blade was in the water. We did this with Russian drills.

After a very heavy boat was out of the water and doughnuts happily swam in many rowers tummy’s, we had time to stretch and learned that we would be doing two thirty minute pieces that went in pyramid formation. The first piece went by quickly since we rowed by six’s opposed to all eight. The girls and I were fairly tired after the first piece and we discovered the next piece would be by all eight. Rowing by all eight wasn’t too bad but it definitely was frustrating at times. All I know is that the technical training on the water that I’ve been learning and practicing on this trip will only help me in the spring season. This trip has privileged the rowers that were able to make the cut to become better rowers, and to work on the water opposed to solemnly working on the erg. Each stroke, heavy breath, finished water bottle, and drip of sweat today is preparing us as a team, to win metals for the Spring. From the hard work we have been putting in this week I am preparing to win metals.

Later the team and I went to Clearwater Beach which was incredibly sandy and windy. The water was much warmer than I expected and I’m glad that I got to go swimming. After a failed attempt to soak up some sun I decided to get ice cream and go shopping which was nice since the shops by the beach blocked the wind and, ice cream is always good. It was a pleasant day at the beach and now as I write this blog the team is packed in a few vehicles. We sing songs and enjoy each others company as we go back to the hotel to clean up for the generous dinner provided by The Homeister’s. The day has not ended but it was a very successful and productive day for the rowing team.

Athlete: Luke Saye ’19

Hometown: Battle Creek, MI

Major: Marketing

My day began early and chilly, but I was prepared. Yesterday was even colder (with rain), so I knew a long sleeve shirt and jacket would be needed for today. After a quick chalk-talk from Coach B, with Coach Costas demonstrating on the erg, we got on the water. I was in the “Anderson” with Drew (stroke), Jake (3), Ben (bow), and Sam (coxswain). For the first time, we got to row out on the bay. We found a location with little wake, just past Derek Jeter’s monstrous house, which, in person, does not look as good as the images on Google. After numerous sets of bob drills at the catch and finish, and the Russian drill, we rowed back into the city and headed for the docks. Once we got the boat and oars put away, I was delighted to see that Coach B brought the entire team Dunkin’ Donuts. They were amazing. Once we were rested, we headed back out in the “Animal”. We did two 30-minute pieces on the channel, with varying stroke rates ranging from 16 to 28, which was tough. We got back to the docks after our second piece, got everything washed and strapped down, and then headed for lunch at the pool.

After lunch, we packed up and headed to Clearwater Beach. The sun was out, and that’s about it. It was super windy and the water was brisk, but that didn’t stop me from getting a tan, and a bit of a sunburn. Somehow, I managed to fall asleep on the beach, so only the left side of my face is burnt. We packed up our things and headed back to the course to do weights, but en route we received the message that we didn’t have to do them! I got back to the hotel, relaxed for a bit and then got ready for dinner. The Homeister parents prepared an amazing dinner for the entire team and coaches. My first Florida Training trip is going great so far!


Sunday, January 3rd

Athlete: Dominic Fisher ’17

Hometown: Ada, MI

Major: Chemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology

This morning started out like any other this week. My teammates and I awoke to the sound of phone alarms at six and then enjoyed watching George Lopez while eating our breakfast. After we proceeded over toward the course for our morning chalk talk with Coach B and our guest coach Joe Haney. After being given our lineups for the first practice we rowed out onto the water in our assigned pairs for some recovery sequence drills.

The first practice this morning consisted mainly of technical work with some steady state thrown in to round out the practice. Coach gifted us this morning with a nice thirty minute rest in between practices. Before heading back out for practice number two, Coach also surprised us with a wonderful treat known as tomato pie from a local Sicilian deli. The second practice consisted of thirty minutes of drills focused on correcting the posture of our stroke and we rounded off our day of rowing with a fun bout of leapfrog and some small sprint pieces back to the dock.

As if this day could not get any better coach reminded us that we have the afternoon off to relax and recovery from the hard days of practice prior. I personally am looking forward to seeing a movie in theaters and going out to Urban Cantina with some of the varsity men to have a nice dinner. Day six in Florida is turning out to be a great day.

Athlete: Faith Platz ’18

Hometown: Grand Haven, MI

Major: Statistics and Economics

Today’s weather was a big change from the hot, humid, sunny skies we have started to get used to down in Tampa. While still much better than Michigan’s snow, it was chilly and rainy for our morning row. However, during Coach B’s daily “chalk talk,” he introduced us to guest coach Joe Haney, who has had lots of success as a fire chief and rowing coach. After he shared some words of wisdom with the team, we launched and went out for our technical morning row. We then took a brief break on land to refuel with Sicilian pizza generously provided by Coach Haney, and headed back out on the water to get some more mileage in before the rain picked up any more.

We then had the afternoon off due to the weather, which allowed us to explore the area a little. Some of the women decided on the perfect rainy day activity, and headed out to a local mall for some shopping and saw a movie before heading to dinner.

As the days go by in Tampa, the team and I are very grateful to be able to row on this beautiful water everyday, and are even more grateful that today will probably be the coldest it will get on this trip and we could still manage to be outside without a jacket. Returning home to icy Allendale will definitely be a shock to our system after this week.

Athlete: Jake McLane ’19

Hometown: Harbor Springs, MI

Major: Secondary Education

Today the rowers of room 1118 and 1116 awoke to the sounds of Sir Donnie Jensen and his gorgeous voice telling the Super Room that it was time wake up. During our morning chalk talk Coach Bancheri introduced Joe Haney, a retired fire chief and former rower who coaches his own rowing club. It is not uncommon for us to have a double morning practice and today was one of those days. However, it being Sunday, we were given the afternoon off! After finishing up our second outing on the water working on drills, technique, and timing we came back into shore and washed off our boats. We finished the morning by stretching out and breaking down as a team with our usual “GV” cheer and we headed back to the Barrymore hotel just across the river.

Having the afternoon off is one of the coolest things ever because it gives the team a chance to explore the beautiful city of Tampa. Aside from walking around town we can also swim at the pool or nap in our rooms and catch up on some much needed, glorious, and rejuvenating sleep.

Depending on the weather I may decide to take a single out and get some pointers from our Men’s Novice Coach, Costas Ciungan. That will all depend on the weather seeing as how it is cooling down for today in the high 60’s with a small chance of rain.


Saturday, January 2nd

Athlete: Brandon Roberts ’18

Hometown: Dearborn Heights, MI

Major: Information Systems

I awoke this morning at the crack of 7:15 in the morning to see a misty Tampa, FL. Despite the slight wind and the fact that we were in pairs, I was not discouraged. I was to row the Nancy Lubbers with Zack Peters and it was one heck of a row, if I do say so myself. While the novice men/women learned about how much 3x3k at 28 strokes per minute hurts one’s body, I learned a lot today about rowing in circles and getting that extra inch at the catch. After a couple hours, we brought in the pairs and took out some fours to go for a steady state row upstream for a while until we proceeded to turn around and take those in too. We all had some sandwiches for lunch at the pool; thanks to Coach Michelle for putting those out. After lunch, some of us went to take a nap, while others went to go explore the city before afternoon practice.

The novice men/women met at 3:00 to go for a technical/swing row, while the varsity met at the Steward’s Foundation boathouse to do our 3x3k. As much as it hurt at the time, I’d like to thank the guys on the men’s team for pushing each other during the pieces, so much so to the point where everybody had beaten their previous personal records. Coach B was elated, to say the least. The top 8 weighted guys got to take out a (basically) brand new Vespoli VHP 55, while the rest of the guys took out a four for a short cool-down row. After practice, mostly everyone was hungry so we all formed little groups and set out upon the town to go eat whatever we could find. Being athletes as we are, it seems as though when Tampa’s night life begins, we all retire to our hotel rooms to get some much needed sleep before practice tomorrow.

Athlete: Sam Doletzky ’19

Hometown: Rockford, MI

Major: Secondary Education

Today we started practice a little later than usual, 9am, because of the New Year. When we got to practice we gathered around the erg for a ‘Chalk Talk’. Coach B talked about ’41’ and compression. It was interesting to hear what he was saying regarding the concepts, we’ve been focusing a lot on the catch the last few days. Coach put one of the varsity men onto the erg with the erg arm, and he then showed us all the concepts and explained them in detail. The ’41’ was talking about the last 5 inches of the slide, with the first 4 of those inches being raising your hands into to the catch, and the last 1 inch, the placement of the blade into the water. Then relating the ’41’ back to the compression, and the rotation around the pin. Being able to take what Coach is showing us on the erg arm and relating it back to the rowers while they’re in a boat is pretty neat. Once we got onto the water, we did a steady state, intermittent with quite a few drills. With more work around timing, the catch, and catch placement.

Today was interesting because ABC came to videotape the practice and Coach B for a news story, I’m pretty excited to see what they air this up coming week. Once was interesting because ABC came to videotape the practice and Coach B for a news story, I’m pretty excited to see what they air this up coming week. Once practice was over, we went to the beach for some time to hang out and chill. Overall, it was a pretty great day, and I’m looking forward to the days to come.

Athlete: Ellie Peebles

Hometown: Eastbourne, UK

Major: Exercise Science 

Day 4: Training started at 8am this morning. The weather was a comfortable temperature to row in which was a pleasant change. The varsity men and women’s first session of the day involved fours and pairs. A technical row which pretty much involved us rowing in circles for 90mins, however it allowed each of us to manage our own blade.

Starting to get hungry, we headed back in for a quick snack before heading back out for a 40 minute row in larger boats.

After lunch and a needed nap the afternoon practice was a 3x3000m on the erg, Which turned out to be a great practice for the whole team- majority beating there current PR’s. I personally had a PR which I am so pleased with and wouldn’t have been possible without the support from the guys on our last 3000m.

After the erg we had the opportunity to row in a brand new Vespoli 8x boat. It was a stunning boat to row and an enjoyable way to end the days training.

As the whole team performed so well today, coach rewarded us with the afternoon off tomorrow- bring on the rest.


Friday, January 1st

Athlete: Christina Pavano ’16

Hometown: Rockford, MI

Major: Psychology

Today was day 4 of our training camp. Since New Year’s Eve was last night, we got to sleep in a little bit this morning and went to practice at 9! Today was an extra special practice because ABC News was going to join us for a news special. As we gathered around the erg arm while Coach B gave his chalk talk, the news crew filmed and recorded Coach. Following the chalk talk, they joined us on the water for a nice long and technical row!

After practice was finished, we went back to the hotel and had lunch by the pool! We had the afternoon off today and we had the option to go to the beach or stay at the hotel. So about half went to the beach where they laid in the sun, swam and played some volleyball and the others who chose not to go to the beach just hung out by the pool and relaxed. We all very much enjoyed having the afternoon off!

We ended tonight with a team pizza party around the pool! Day 4 has been another great day in Florida and we’re all looking forward to the rest of the trip!

Athlete: Jack Tucker ’18

Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

Major: Nursing

We started off the new year with a 9:00 a.m stretch and chalk talk. We were joined right away by the local ABC news crew who covered all of our morning session. During which we practiced catch placement by stationary drills and circle drills, there were three mens four boats and one womens eight.

We are all acclimating to the heat and humidity slowly but surely. I spent the afternoon getting some needed rest poolside after last nights New Years Eve firework show. Some of the team spent the afternoon at one of the local beaches. The excitement for the racing season builds as the days of practice go on.


Wednesday, December 31st

Athlete: Amber Crotty ’17

Hometown: Fruitport, MI

Major: Bio-medical Sciences

Woke up today around 6:30am to go on a quick jog along side the bay. Dense fog covered every part of Tampa, which at first was worrisome, but cleared pretty quickly. After my jog I stretched briefly for 10ish minutes and grabbed a bite to eat with my teammates. The coxswains walked down to practice about 20 minutes early to set up the erg-arm for Coach B’s “chalk talk”. The focus today was on the hands syncing together away from the body, the poise at the pivot and striking together at the catch. Our team was divided into two groups, one group went with Coach B while the other group went with Coach Allison and Coastas.

I coxed the Women’s Varsity 8 that followed Coach B. After a very productive row our group returned to the docks. The women were split into 4’s and we went out for a hour steady-state and technical row. After morning practice the team decided to hangout at the pool. Laying out in the sun and taking a dip in the pool felt amazing. The afternoon practice consisted of more steady-state rowing around the island in the bay. The varsity women’s 8 faced…. some hefty waves. If they can row in those conditions, they can row in anything.

Athlete: Zach Peters ’17

Hometown: Royal Oak, MI

Major: Finance and Marketing

Today the top eight men went out in fours. We started with a swing pick to quarter-slide warm-up to the front of the Tampa Convention Center where we usually meet before we start our practices in sunny Tampa Florida. Then we proceeded to do some skill and drill with emphasis on the recovery and a quick catch. The practiced then concluded with some bucket races next to a bunch of cruise liners. This practice was very productive and helped me learn that a quick catch starts from the body preparation.

After this we went back out on the water for a short fifty-minute row in pairs. Between practices we threw a tennis ball around by the pool and enjoyed a nap afterwards. The next practice we went out in fours for a short skill and drill row. We worked on the different stages of the recovery but mainly enjoyed a nice steady state row in the sun. When we got off the water we did three weight circuits. Tonight the team will be celebrating the New Year by enjoying some fireworks and each other’s company.

Athlete: Karissa Cloud ’19

Hometown: Ada, MI

Major: Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Poise, GatheRRRR, STRIKE!

Day three has started strong as we work on timing throughout our stroke. During our 8am chalk talk, Coach B explains how our actions at the beginning of the stroke will affect what happens at the end of the stroke, and vice versa. We split into two groups and were given lineups. As a coxswain I can work with either men or women and this morning I was practicing with a women’s eight. The other boats in my group with Coaches Allison and Costas were a men’s novice four and two varsity men’s pairs. We rowed south on the river toward the bay. Although we did not make it out to the bag, we turned and rowed past a cruise ship docked in its port. It look so much bigger in person on the water compared to seeing it while on land. After drill work to reinforce technique with timing and blade work, we head back to the dock for a quick water and snack break. A few lineups were switched but my eight was the same as we prepared to launch again for a quick row before lunch. This time, we rowed north into Tampa for 20 minutes and then were instructed to turn around. The water was choppy as motor boat travel increased, which made the row more… interesting. We all docked afloat and safe, thankful that it was time for lunch.

I got back to the hotel around 12 and went up to my room took a nap while most had gone to the pool to cool off. Our afternoon practice was at 3 so I left my room to walk down with some of the varsity girls at 2:30. We arrive at the site and the varsity were put into their same line-ups for a shorter row on the water. Novice stayed on land to do their erg work out that the varsity completed yesterday, 3×4000 meters. I was placed in a boat with men and I was happy to have been given the chance to work with both men and women today. We rowed south toward the bay but turned and rowed again past the same cruise ship we had seen earlier. This time, we could see people and waved as we had rowed by. It felt lengthy but was a fun row to get in the mileage. After docking and washing the boat and oars off, I went to the ergs to help cheer on the novice as they were half way through their pieces. I stayed with them until the end and got back to my room at about 5:30. People now are going between rooms, girls asking about their outfits and doing hair after their showers as we dress up for a fun night out to celebrate the New Year! Everyone is excited to eat and see the fireworks as we kick off the start to 2016. I am so happy and excited to be celebrating with this wonderful team I get to call my family during the holiday!


Tuesday, December 30th

Athlete: Logan Conner ’18

Hometown: Rockford, MI

Major: Biomedical Sciences, Pre-Med

Day Two was filled with lots of rowing in the warm sun. The day started out with the team waking up around 7 for breakfast. We had our first of two morning practices at 8am which began off with a chalk talk by Coach B. He focused on the importance of having a 1 to 1 ratio of the hand speed coming out vs coming in. After that we were assigned to boats for practice. Since I am a coxswain and work with both sides of the team I was put on the women’s team to help out. We went up stream into the channel for some skill and drill. We worked on a lot of drills dealing with the catch and making sure the blade is placed in before the drive started. After that we came in and switched lineups. I was then placed in the men’s boat as we went back out for a short practice up stream in the channel for a little technique focusing on the release. After practice we had lunch which was provided by the team.

After practice we all headed back the hotel for some relaxation. Many people when out to the pool but I decided to take a nap. I would say it was a good nap although it was short lived because we headed back to the boathouse at 3 for our last practice. The rowers were on the erg their Wednesday pieces. Today they had 3 by 4k. Results were ok many did well while others did not. After the pieces we were sent back to the pool for mandatory pool party, AKA Coach said to cool down in the pool. Dinner was also provided. The Homeisters, parents of Owen, were very nice and brought us chicken, mash potatoes, Pasta Salad, Salad, and Cookies. Overall it was a very productive day for the rowing team as we look forward to more gains tomorrow.

Athlete: Ben Norrix ’19

Hometown: Rockwood, MI

Major: Group Social Sciences

Today started with a seven am wake up followed by the breakfast of champions, a bagel. The team met at the boats at eight o’clock. We began practice with one of coach B’s classic chalk talks. Today focus was on one to one. This is when your arms leave your body at the same speed as when you bring them into the body. The mens team began the day in pairs and fours. We rowed and stopped next to the Tampa Bay Convention Center. Then we moved into a sheltered area where we began to do waggle drills. After we returned to the dock where we changed boats. While the varsity guys split up into two fours, the novice men went into a mixed 8 with the novice girls to finish out the morning session.

After practice we all went back to hotel for some rest and relaxation. Personally I laid down and took a nap that lasted right up until I had to get up for our afternoon session. We arrived at the boats where we were informed that we were going to row our novice mens four. This was the first time we did not head towards the city and instead rowed away from it. This practice began us rowing by pairs and Coach Costas filming our rowing so he could better understand what he was telling us to do. We then proceeded by doing the waggle drill until we turned around to head back to the dock. Once turned around we began to have some internal boat racing. We would row by pairs where the object of it was to out pull the person you are rowing with. We continued this until the bridge right before the dock. From there on we rowed steady state until we reached the dock.

To end the day the whole team gathered around the pool at the hotel where Mr and Mrs Homeister fed us an amazing Dinner. I just want to thank them again for feeding us.

So far camp has been a lot of hard work but it has been fun as well. I look forward to the upcoming days of training and i know that all our hard work will pay off this spring. Go Lakers!


Monday, December 29th

Athlete: Brittany Gronda ’17

Hometown: Tawas City, MI

Major: Advertising and Public Relations

Well the Laker Navy has arrived for another training trip in the beautiful Tampa Bay area! Normally we all hop on a bus and suffer through the 20+ hour trip together, but this year the coaches mixed it up and allowed us the opportunity to fly or drive down. With the crazy snow storm that hit Michigan yesterday I was worried that a majority of the team would run into troubles getting down here. But everything worked out and my teammates are here safe and ready to get out on the water.

This is my third year on the team and it is a running tradition that the first row of a training trip is at least three hours long and called the “Darth Vader Row.” Coach always said that if you did the practice right, you better be breathing like Darth Vader at the end. To go along with the change in travel plans, there was also a change with the first practice plan. We learned that it would be more about focusing on the fundamentals of rowing then building off of those throughout the week. The men and women were assigned to boats then immediately launched.

For the women’s practice the main focus point was making sure we had the correct body preparation. The body prep is like the base of a pyramid. Without a solid base the pyramid will fall; without a solid body prep the potential for a strong stroke has been compromised. This practice set the tone for the rest of the week, and it was only two hours long. A nice surprise.

I cant even begin to explain the pure joy and relief of sitting down into the boat when you’ve been stuck indoors on the rowing machine for the past month. Nothing compares. It’s only day one but I know this is going to be a great training trip. I’m surrounded by my friends, soaking up the sun, and sitting in a boat doing what I love. What more could I ask for?

Athlete: Danielle Rode ’19

Hometown: Rockford, MI

Major: Nursing

Today we woke around 8 and headed over to where we will be practicing for our stay here. Once we arrived we started taking boats off the trailers and putting the riggers on. We left around 11:30 and headed to subway to grab a quick lunch. Once we got back to the hotel, more of the team had arrived! We all spent the remainder of the day at the pool, catching some sun before our 3 o’clock practice.

At practice we really focused on the basics and getting use to being in the boat again. Tampa is a really beautiful place and the sights we got to see while on the water were really cool. We are definitely very lucky to be able to row here.

Athlete: Rob Hiner ’17

Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI

Major: Engineering

Today was an exciting day, I was happy to see all of my teammates as they arrived in Florida. We started out the morning with rigging our boats and preparing our equipment for the week. After rigging all of the boats and preparing the launches for the coaches we broke for lunch. Following a quick lunch I enjoyed a few hours relaxing in the pool. It was awesome to be able to swim outside without freezing. The weather was perfect for swimming and rowing.

After a much needed sun bath we hit the water. Despite the blazing sun it felt great to be back on the water. We started with some simple drills but we ended with some fun speed work. There was a lot of boat traffic on the river but we still managed to find some flat water. After practice I got to walk the new boardwalk in downtown Tampa with some friends. Then we enjoyed some delicious subway for dinner. Overall it was a great day and I’m very excited for the week ahead!


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The Grand Valley State University Rowing Club challenges its student-athletes to reach the highest level to which they aspire both academically and athletically, while continuing to build and sustain a nationally competitive intercollegiate rowing program.

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