A couple months ago, a movie called "Soul Surfer" debuted in movie theatres.
The motion picture is based on a book written by the professional surfer,
Bethany Hamilton. Speaking directly to athletes facing adversity, as well as to
everybody else wanting to see an inspirational and uplifting movie, trust me, watch this one!! It is what athletics
(and life) are all about: a true love and passion for what you do, and
embracing the commitment and work that it will take to achieve your goals.
Hamilton once said, "I don't need easy, I just need possible." I couldn't think
of a better quote to start off the fall with.
The other day I indulged in looking at rowing videos on YouTube (who doesn't
like to type in "ejector crab" and see what comes up??) and as I went through
everything from fun parodies, to Olympic races that give you goose bumps, my
blood started to rush. The itch of a fresh season so close at hand is like
being a racehorse waiting for the gate to open.
Lake Lemon has been host to small boats the
last couple months, but it's almost time for the full Hoosier force to push off
the dock. The women have been training hard all summer, many competing at the
national and world levels. As we all either enjoyed vacation or took summer
classes, the focus remained, the erging continued, and it's time to pick up
right where we left off. IU is a program that doesn't "start over" with a new
year; we build off of every season and summer is no exception. We learn from
mistakes, and build upon successes of last spring and fall. Most importantly,
we build trust in one another. It's such a warm feeling to be able to walk
through campus and see one of the top performing varsity rowers with a big grin
on her face, waving as she drives the X-Bus, or to see smiling teammates at the
Village Deli or Red Mango, all readily committed to stepping back in the boat.
With many exceptional recruits joining the team, we're excited to see what new
levels are to be achieved. We will dearly miss our Graduate Assistant, Courtney
Valerious, but congratulate her as a new addition to the Iowa coaching staff.
Elena Humphreys, a veteran of the University of California, Berkeley rowing
team is joining the Hoosiers as the new GA, and we excitedly welcome her to the
cream and crimson crew. Welcome to B-town!
I cleaned out my coxswain bag today. It's filled with fresh athletic tape,
shiny wrenches, and a checklist of what I want to, and will, achieve this year.
IU women's rowing is an ever-growing team in the Big Ten, and I have a feeling
this year is going to be one of the best.
If you're a rower, have you ever figured out your practice to competition time ratio? Well if you haven't, don't - trust me, it will either make you sad, frustrated or at least give you a head ache. That and your bottom jaw will probably be resting on your table in amazement by the fact that you put in so much time for 2k races.
Last weekend, we were traveling to Ann Arbor, Michigan to compete against Oklahoma and Michigan. During the bus ride, a few girls on the team were talking about the time we put in for a 2,000 meter race. Don't get me wrong, they weren't complaining, but just commenting on the fact that the time dedicated to training, practicing, and traveling doesn't even compare to the time it takes to finish a race. It got me thinking - we'll row hundreds of thousands of meters to prepare for a handful of races. We'll do practice starts, sprints, and race-pace pieces when only one of those will count for the real deal. Why?
I wish I could explain it another way but to put it simply, there's nothing like racing. When you sit on the line next to your competition all lined up, it's a crazy feeling. Your boat is about to explode after that flag drops and you know you're going to have to give whatever it takes to make sure you cross the line first. Nothing else matters except your race and teammates in front and behind you. You're focused on one thing and it's about going fast.
To be honest, it's hard to be thinking about what you're doing while actually racing, it seems automatic. Some of the best races are those that you don't fully remember. So you're at the start feeling pumped up, adrenaline flowing and then the race begins and shortly thereafter everything is burning - legs, arms, lungs, everything. You're going to need all that training so you can go full tilt for 2,000 meters. If you watch the end of a race, a crew in perfect unison will collapse just after crossing the line having nothing else to give. A quote from the USRowing website says it well, "Physiologists claim that rowing a 2,000-meter race - equivalent to 1.25 miles - is equal to playing back-to-back basketball games." Yea, you're going to need those months of practice.
This weekend, the V8 pulled out a win over Louisville by less than a second, the race was won by a matter of feet. Over 2,000 meters, a race is sometimes won by the smallest of margins. When we're practicing and someone brings up a bowball you may have lost to in the past, you never want that to happen. You not only need but you want that practice for that one race. Practice makes perfect and with every practice, you're trying to eliminate anything that may slow you down. With Big Tens just around the corner, we'll be practicing and striving to make things perfect to put ourselves in the best position to do well.
Anyone make a bracket for the NCAA Basketball Tournament? To be honest, I've yet to tune into the March Madness action and only learned just yesterday who is in the final four (I know, shame on me). But anyway, how are those brackets looking these days? Most of the people I've talked to have mentioned that their brackets were pretty far off from what the results turned out to be. Sure, the brackets made by some sport experts are close, but the odds of predicting the teams that have made it to the final four are small. If everything went as it was "supposed" to, all the top seeded teams would have made it to the final four - as any basketball fan could tell you, that's not the case here. It is competition, anything can happen.
I was thinking the other day how some of the best games, races, and matches are usually those where something so unanticipated happens. Coach Peterson sent us a video of the men's pair at the 2000 Olympics. Great Britain and Australia were the favorites to take the gold, followed by the US and Yugoslavians. Off the start, Great Britain took an early lead over the field and was first for the majority of the race. At the 1,000m mark, it was Great Britain, Yugoslavia, US, France and Australia in fifth. The French were down by open water on Great Britain at the 1000m and many expected the British to claim the gold. France opened up their sprint (44spm!) with over 500m to go, walking them through the leaders to cross the line first, earning them the gold medal (I'd definitely recommend youtubing the race). Crazy, huh?
I have to mention the Boston Red Sox vs. the New York Yankees in the playoffs to go onto the 2004 World Series. The Red Sox were down by 3 games to the Yankees in a 7 game series. The Sox had arguably one of the greatest comebacks in sports and beat the Yankees in 4 straight games and went on the become World Series Champs - breaking the "Curse of the Bambino" and 86-year wait since their last championship. So what does this all mean? In sports, anything can happen. Just because something "should" happen doesn't mean it will. A lot can be said for the desire and will to win. If you commit to something above and beyond, I mean 110%, you'd be surprised with what you can accomplish. It sounds corny, but it's the honest truth. Put a boat's worth of people together like that all gunning for the same goal and I could guarantee you that boat will fly. Just because something has never been done before doesn't mean it won't happen. As the Adidas slogan says, "Impossible is Nothing."
IU Rowing is pumped for the Dale England Cup this weekend against Gonzaga, Boston University, and Michigan State. The team is really starting to build momentum after solid racing in Clemson along with Varsity 8+s and Novice 8+ wins against Notre Dame last weekend. The boats across the board are improving to be even faster and getting more in-sync as crews. Racing on Lake Lemon against a strong field of competitive crews is something we've been looking forward to since the fall and were excited to defend our home turf. Row Hoosiers!
The Hoosiers are getting psyched for our upcoming race this weekend in Indy against Purdue, Notre Dame, and Eastern Michigan. We are in the heart of training, toning physically and mentally to stay consistent through each weekend. This week we were able to set-up our 2K course on Lake Lemon, and it will be used a lot over the next couple months. With each high-rating piece, our fleet of crews look increasingly confident and sharp. While there is no such thing as a perfect practice, our student-athletes never run out of fight and push from the warm-up to the cool-down row to the dock.
We are also getting ready to sign up for Fall classes, which seems years away, but in reality that time is right around the corner. Speaking of the Fall, there is a welcome addition to the Indiana Athletics family that deserves some recognition. Coach Kevin Wilson is IU's new Head Football Coach, and he is exhilarated for next season! A few weeks ago, I was involved in a meet-and-greet where Coach Wilson introduced Offensive and Defensive coaches, answered questions, and shared with IU students that he expects Hoosier Spirit at every football game. This is very exciting, as we have a really great incoming recruiting class.
I was pumped to have had the opportunity to ask Coach Wilson a few questions for the blog. As the IU Athletics motto is "24 Sports One Team," our Rowing Team welcomes you to the Hoosier family Coach Wilson!
Regarding athletics, what do you look for in terms of leaders on a team? "Someone that is a great example guy. Leadership is best coupled with performance. Not necessarily a verbal guy, but someone who is doing things right all the time, on and off the field."
What is something you enjoy about coaching Division I football? "The opportunity to work with some great, young kids. Guys at the age where you try to finish off their growth process and teach them to be disciplined, hard working and structured. And putting that together and having a team that can be the best it can be. One, you get a chance to finish the individual growth of a young man and help develop him as a man on and off the field. Collectively, putting all those guys together to formulate the best team you can."
What are some Team Building Activities that you do? "Our team building focuses on how to create a competitive environment. A lot of things we do we have a winner and a loser, with consequences. We try and build every exercise in a confident way. If we are doing team-building activities, we carry ourselves in a very positive manner with high expectations."
How long have you been coaching for? "I knew I wanted to coach as a player. As soon as I finished playing, I started helping out with the team at the University of North Carolina. I became a student coach and spent three years as a student and graduate assistant after four years of playing. Then I spent a couple years at Historically Black Colleges and Universities working in smaller settings, primarily African-American environments which was a good learning situation."
From your overall experience as a coach, what do you think are some valuable lessons you've learned? "The last two guys I have worked for - Randy Walker and Bob Stoops - were leaders who were very humble and grounded with high morals. They had high integrity and were extremely honest. I learned to hold players to a very high standard, don't back down from that standard but also treat them with a lot of respect."
A hero is
very abstract term. It may be defined as a figure such as super man, or maybe a
mentor you look up to. This past fall I discovered the true meaning of the
word. Case in point, Jillian Costello, California Berkeley Coxswain. She is my
hero. If you have not read the article, published through Sports Illustrated, take some time to do so (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1178822/index.htm).
Jill is the most courageous, driven, and inspiring person I have ever heard of.
Her story made me re-evaluate my reasons for rowing, and forces you to take a
step back and look at life from a different angle. Jill's battle against lung
cancer and how she raced the spring season of her senior year is truly one
story that will touch whomever reads it. It is also an epic story of how the
Cal team came together in support of its sister; it should really be made into
a movie. Here is an excerpt from the article: "At 500 meters it was Cal by a
nose. At 1,000 it was Cal by half a boat length. It was there that Lofman
noticed something unusual: a dab of scarlet just below Jill's nose. Then the
smudge grew, blood snaking toward Jill's upper lip. Jill saw the fear in Lofman's
eyes and knew what had happened. With a quick, disdainful motion she wiped away
the blood with the back of her hand. Lofman felt a surge of energy course
through her. "It was like she wasn't going to let her body stop her from
doing what she wanted to do," says Lofman. Already close to maxing out,
Lofman dug even deeper."
Read it, it will rock you to the core.
Speaking of heroes, there is one coxswain in particular that is a household
name with anybody involved in the rowing. I am, of course, referring to Mary
Last year at the California Crew classic, a teammate and myself were gathered
for the coaches and coxswains meeting. I heard a voice from behind me, and from
listening to a number of her tapes I knew it was the Olympian herself. Meeting
Mary was something I'll never forget; she was so down to earth and inspiring to
talk to. Whipple is the current National Team coxswain and has competed in both
the 2004 and 2008 Olympic games, and will also race in 2012 at London. I am
deeply humbled that Mary took the time to answer a few questions for the blog.
It was great to get some insight before the kick-off to our spring season.
What is a favorite memory you have from
coxing in college? I have a lot of great memories from college. I was fortunate enough
to win a lot of races while at Washington. The memories that stick out
always include friendships, team BBQ's, practice, and traveling for races. The
community that forms from being on a rowing team is special and teammates truly
do become like family.
How do you keep your rowers motivated
when you are down in a race? Believing in each other and your race plan helps me stay motivated. A
good crew will feed off each other and back each other up when they are down to
create momentum that will help them work back into the race. As a
coxswain, I have to create 'buy in' from all my rowers so the upcoming move
brings us back and to the finish line first. I do that by thinking of
things that I would want to hear. That way, I truly believe in what I'm saying
and it comes out sincere and passionate.
What has been your favorite race (or
races) thus far in your career? It would have to be the 2008 Olympic race. It's not only because we
won, but also it was the way we started out the day, the feeling we had before
the race, and especially during the starting sequence. It all came
together and it felt amazing. Winning was definitely the bonus. Overall
for me it is my favorite race because of how we got to the line, the journey is
what made it my favorite.
the biggest mistake you've made on the water and how did you deal with it? The biggest mistake I've made on the water was hit a buoy. Not
just any buoy, it was a huge buoy that we had to leave on our Starboard to make
a turn during a head race on my home water. Since I knew that course like
the back of my hand and proceeded to take the turn like I have always done
everyday in practice, I neglected to notice that the race officials decided to
put a safety buoy before the channel marker that makes the real turn. The
buoy was right in my blind spot...right in front of me. We still managed
to win, but it was totally embarrassing.
What are your thoughts on the
relationship between coxswains and their rowers? My only thought is that they are my teammates and I would want to be
considered the same by them. They have a role in rowing and my role is to
steer and organize. Both roles need to be executed in order to make boats
What was your favorite part about the
Beijing Olympics? Other than the race, being able to watch other events and living at the
Olympic Village was pretty fun. The dinning hall was the happening spot
to be and hang out, especially the McDonalds. There was always a line for egg
McMuffins in the morning.
advice for collegiate athletes looking to continue on to the National Team? The erg is your friend. Having a good erg score will get you the
invite to train with the National Team and continuing to make progress on the
erg will give you more opportunity to be in fast boats and with fast partners.
Races are rarely (if ever) won sitting on the line
thinking, "Gee, I hope we do well." You want to know when the official calls to
sit ready, you and your teammates have done everything that you could have
possibly done to make your boat go the fastest it can on that day. No regrets.
Sounds intense, huh? It's actually pretty simple - not necessarily easy,
but simple. Train smart, push yourself, eat well, have a good attitude and you
have to have the desire to want it. At this level though, it's safe to say that
a lot of the teams we're going to race will have that. There are plenty of
things that each individual crew will have that will set themselves apart from
the others but I think one of the biggest x-factors is confidence.
Confidence is defined as "full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness or
reliability of a person or thing." I was searching around the web looking at
what others had wrote about confidence and many described it as something that
is felt and believed. In other words, it's not materialistic or something you
can physically hold and touch. Sure, some could argue a medal, trophy or cup
awarded after a race could serve this purpose but what about the beginning of
the season? It's a new year, new team. What you've done before definitely
gives you momentum but each year is different.
I remember back in the fall, talking with the coaches about where confidence
comes from. Some mentioned that you could get it from hearing words of
encouragement from teammates, family, coaches and friends. That might work for
some, but for others hearing that you're fast and that you'll do well may not
cut it. You need to be convinced and know you're fast, not told. You want
to know you're prepared - you have to do the work. Call me crazy, but I've
kept track of all our erg workouts since the beginning of the year. Everyone
individually has rowed over half a million meters - just on the ergs alone.
Multiply that times about 50 girls and we're talking about a lot of meters.
By no means does volume guarantee success, I know that, but it definitely puts
us in a good position to do well. We've done the quantity and we've put a lot
of attention and emphasis on doing it well. This past week we've been rowing in
line-ups gearing up for our race this weekend against Clemson, Alabama, BU,
Marist, Syracuse and Purdue. It's the first race and the results will really
set the tone for the season. We're getting used to our line-ups, going fast,
getting more prepared, and with that, more and more confident.
What do you think of when you hear the term "paraplegic
rowing?" Do you feel sympathy? Intrigue? Confusion? I think of the word:
courage. Take British Army Officer Major Phil Packer, for example. Major
Packer was wounded in Iraq, but rather than allowing his disability impact his
life in a negative way, he decided to row across the English Channel in order
raise money for the Help for Heroes charity. That's the kind of spirit and fire
that ignites this sport and makes it, in my opinion, one of the best
activities, if not the best activity, in which to be involved. Packer completed
his quest across the channel in 15 hours. In 2009, he had already raised £154,000
for the charity, and continues onward today.
Rowing brings the world together. It doesn't matter where you're from or what
level of fitness you're at or how old you are ... all you need is a little bit of
courage. It's people like Major Packer who not only make me thankful for the servicemen
world-wide who protect our freedom, but they also inspire me everyday on the
Speaking of being on the water, it is almost Spring-time in Indiana! It has
been a bit chilly in the mornings, but everyday gets a little bit better. I
still wear enough layers to look like the Michelin Man. But honestly, when we're
rowing, nobody notices. Whether we're focused on applying pressure as a crew or
walking-through boats beside us during competitive pieces in practice, no one
cares if it's cold, WE ARE ON THE WATER! We get to row and enjoy being outside
with the sound of our boat-run while our fellow IU classmates are most likely
still sleeping. The week is coming to an end, and we can't wait to for our
Spring Break training.
Coach Steve is pumped and down to business. He is getting us fired up and knows
that IU is a powerful force: "I see it every day in practice, and I see it
every day in each and every one of you."
Hello Lake Lemon!
This week was a busy one for the Hoosiers. Midterms, a 2k test and we had
to leave the erg room and start rowing on the water again. Kleenex boxes
were running low as we wiped our tears away and headed to the boathouse to row
on the water again. We made a compromise with the coaches and were
promised a few erg workouts a week, at least until spring break.
Who am I kidding!? Hello Lake Lemon!
Not many things can beat getting back on the water after a
few months spent on the ergs. It's funny how with erging and rowing you
do the same thing, and yet rowing on the water is so different (and preferred).
Ask any rower anywhere and I could guarantee you rowing on the water
would take the cake. The biggest difference that comes to mind is not
seeing your split. The erg is brutally honest - you're either going as
fast as you should be or you're not, there are no shortcuts. It sounds
like a negative thing, but if you think about it, it's one of the best rowing
tools out there. If you have anything to improve on, the erg is the place
to go. Yeah, it's definitely hard but you're better because of it.
Ok so we finally left the ergs and now I'm writing about how great they
I came across this quote and I think it ties everything
"Rowers like pulling hard. On the erg and in the boat. It's what gives us speed
and makes us feel good. It makes us feel like we're doing something honest and
playing by the cardinal rule of rowing and erging - pull hard and go faster." -
It's one thing to pull hard and see the split you want.
It's another thing to pull hard and move with eight others to surge your
boat ahead of the one next to you. Everyone has had those rows where
everything feels right. You feel like you're flying and it feels as if you
could keep going forever. Honestly, that's tough to top. Our time
spent on the ergs was definitely well spent. We've had some really good
rows just only a few days being back on the water and it's encouraging to think
about how fast we'll be at race pace.
This time next week we'll be rowing in Clemson and all of
us are really pumped and looking forward to it. We were practicing racing
starts and it's crazy to think that in two weeks we'll be sitting on the
starting line getting ready to do the real thing against a solid group of
competitive crews. Spring racing season, here we come!
To all you athletes out there, take a minute today to
thank your coaches and parents. Being driven to those 5:30am practices, food
tents at regattas, seeing their proud faces ... Mom's and Dad's, you make our
hard work worth it just to see your smiles when we get off the water. It doesn't
matter how well or awful a race went, you are still there to support us through
and through! So, thank you!
And to coaches, you make or break a team. Without you guys, we would be a bunch
rowers and petite coxswains rowing around in circles with no sense of
direction. You have such great experience and knowledge of this sport... Thank
you for caring as much as you do, and for having confidence in our abilities
and commitment to the Hoosiers! ...
The time is upon us. Midterms. Spring break is right at our fingertips, but
there is one very large obstacle to tackle before heading to South Carolina for
training: MIDTERMS (insert dramatic music here). The time for procrastination
is over. Not that myself or any of my teammates ever procrastinate ...
Personally, I love schoolwork, but midterms and finals are
another story. Sitting down in a lecture hall and being handed a scantron is
about as nerve-racking for me as sitting at a starting line. But we all have to
go through it, and the hard work and studying will pay off when we are handed
that flashy diploma.
As we near the last week of school before break, it means that in a few short
days the rowing team will pile onto a bus and drive to Clemson, SC to prep for
Spring Racing. We will compete against a number of schools at the conclusion of
the trip, and having been on the water for a short while, it is already clear
that we will have some very fast and efficient crews. Today we tackled a mixed
eight (along with several other lineups) made up of Novice and Varsity, and we
found rhythm in the boat quickly. To the cold weather, we're not letting the
elements decide how we row, which is crucial to success in this sport. Although
it was cold on the water this morning, Lake Lemon never fails to deliver a flat
water and a beautiful sunrise. We couldn't have asked for a better way to start
On Wednesday, some rowers and our head coach Steve Peterson headed to
elementary schools around the Bloomington area to participate in "Read Across
America." It was such a blast! One of the captains, Cara Donley, was kind
enough to drive me and a few others to a nearby elementary school, and we each
read Dr. Seuss books to the students. We answered questions about rowing,
signed autographs, and talked about the importance of reading. Each one of us
walked out smiling. it was wonderful to see such enthusiasm from the young
students, and although we were a little tongue tied from Dr. Seuss, I hope to
visit more schools in the future in order promote healthy learning habits and
For this week's senior spotlight, we salute Ellie Benson. Ellie is a four-year
senior and one of the most dedicated and reliable people you will ever meet.
She is always there to support her teammates with a big smile. She also has a
really cool tattoo of Africa on her ankle. Coach Conny Kirisch says, "Ellie is
an inspiration to the Hoosiers. Without a doubt, you can always rely on Ellie
to perform with enthusiasm and confidence. She is a leader."
How did you get your start in rowing? In eighth grade, we sometimes had "weights" during P.E. class.
The tiny weight room had an erg, so I decided to try it. My gym teacher at the
time told me I should definitely try-out for the rowing team the next year in high school. At that point I had been through so many sports and
thought that maybe I would finally find my "niche" in rowing. The
next year I went to the rowing call-out meeting, decided to go to a couple of
rowing practices (which were extremely intimidating), and pretty soon I fell in
love with the sport.
What are your post-graduation career
plans? Since I wanted to be a four-year athlete, I decided to postpone my student
teaching for one semester. I am an Elementary Education major, so in order to
get my diploma I will have to student teach for about 16 weeks. I am walking at graduation in May, and then coming back to Bloomington
in the fall to complete eight weeks of student teaching. After that, I will be
New Zealand-bound to complete my student teaching! So, after I complete my
field work in December, I am hoping to find a job somewhere as an elementary
school teacher. Who knows, maybe I'll stay in New Zealand!
Looking back on the past four years as a
D1 athlete, what's one significant thing you have learned? I have learned how important it is to have balance in your life. I know
that sounds cliche, but it's true! My busy schedule with rowing and school can
be a lot to juggle at times. That is why I feel it is so important to make time
to relax and do things for yourself. Granted, it can't be all day every day,
but at least once a day, try to do something that makes you happy. Personally,
if I don't feel like going somewhere or using too much energy, I like to either
play Rockband on Wii or watch YouTube videos thanks to my lovely YouTube
What advice do you have for incoming
Hoosier Rowers? Get to know people and attend as many campus events and athletic events as
possible. It's really great to have an awesome group of friends that are there
for you when you need them, or even when you don't. Getting out and doing
everything with your friends that Bloomington and IU have to offer is a must because
the four years you have at college go by way too fast. (Once again, cliche but
You can do a lot of things in four minutes. Eat a
quick bowl of cereal, listen to a song, start a load of laundry ... or how about
120 reps on a leg press? That last one sounds like an especially good
A big part of our winter training is "the circuit." The circuit is a
series of timed exercises where you try to get as many repetitions as you
possibly can - your goal is 30 reps a minute. Every two weeks or so, the
time is bumped up. This week, we were up to four minutes. I'd love
to say that time flies when you're having fun (like when you're doing the
circuit) but four minutes is a decent chunk of time. At the half
waypoint, you've done 60 reps and you need to keep that same pace until the
end. If you think about it, it can seem pretty daunting- so don't think.
The funny part is, it actually takes a lot of practice. If you were
to walk around the weight room during these four-minute circuits you'd hear a
lot of "just breathe and go, breathe and go" and "be a machine." Like any
race, you have to go after it and focus on what you and your teammates are
doing. Yeah, you definitely need to know where the competition is, but at
the end of the day the only thing that can really affect your boat speed is
you, not the crew in the next lane. The circuits have been doing a lot
for the team, getting us in an "attack mode" and racing mindset.
On Friday, we went out to the boathouse and rigged the boats so everything is
ready for when we go out on the water. The lake is completely thawed and
we're waiting for the conditions to be right to get the launches and docks
ready for practice. I know I said it last time, but I really think we'll
be on the water this week. It's crazy - this week is midterms and we're
half way through the semester and two weeks away from leaving to go to Clemson.
Spring is in sight!!
First, I will begin with a "congratulations" to the IU
Women's swim and dive team for owning their third Big Ten title in a row last
weekend! The IU Men are taking on the Big Ten this weekend, best of luck!
It's been an exciting past couple of days. The novice experienced their first
real exposure to racing starts and the difficulties and thrills that sprinting
entails. Varsity is also working with the first strokes of pieces, and
excitedly can feel how close we are to hitting the water. We were able to head
out to the boathouse on Friday to rig up the shells from the Tampa winter
training trip. With water level finally at an appropriate height, faces were
beaming as we caught our first look at Lake Lemon of the spring. The coxswains
were also exited to see an array of brand new cox-boxes, charged and ready to
be plugged into the boats. In other news, next week Hoosier Rowing will be participating in "Read
Across America Day." The Hoosiers will be visiting a local school and
participating in story telling and crafts, we're really looking forward to it!
This past summer, the US Junior National team traveled to the Czech Republic to
compete against some of the most disciplined and assertive athletes in the
world. The results were quite impressive, with the Men bringing home a gold
medal in the 8+, along with the Women's 8+ taking silver, and Women's 4- also
with a silver. When asked what was on his mind as he sat at the starting line,
looking down the 2,000 meter course, coxswain Patrick O'Hara (JRM 4+) said, "I
was motionless, staring down the course at the finish line and wondering what
the results would be. Knowing that the Italians along with Australians would be
fast of the line, we understood that we needed to have a strong first 1,000
along with the well executed "move", and an even stronger last 1,000
with a clean sprint. We all knew that what we were about to experience would be
the most painful and important race of our lives. Eventually after waiting for
what felt like an hour the official started the race." The US Juniors proudly
defended the red white and blue. O'Hara stated that "[His] favorite part about
working with the U.S. Junior National team was the initial shock, but understanding
that you are rowing with the most elite rowers at your age, and with the
eliteness comes the ability to experiencing Junior Worlds standard speed in a
hull that you have never reached before."
It's important to share stories, such as Patrick's, in order to encourage youth
to get excited about the sport of rowing, and to get involved! I asked O'Hara
if he has any advice for high school (coxswains) looking to continue onto a
college career. "It is important that they involve themselves in some type of
summer rowing camp. It is a good way to get your name out to the collegiate
coaches, and more importantly you improve yourself as a coxswain. Furthermore
when eligible to become contacted by college coaches, stay in contact with them
and be respectful, even if you are not interested in attending their
institution. Lastly and more importantly maintain good grades." Rowing in
college is an incredibly rewarding experience, and with wonderful academic
advisers to help athletes, obtaining a solid GPA and competing can be
difficult, but it makes us better students, more disciplined on the water as
well as in the classroom. O'Hara wisely says, "While making the transformation from a high school
rowing team to a D1 collegiate team comes with its challenges, college
academics is another story. While you may be dedicating four hours a day to
rowing, you need to focus the rest of your time on academics. Because once you
put your sport in front of your academics, you will have work building up very,
very quickly. You are a Student-Athlete, not the other way around." Balancing school and athletics can be tricky, but it's one of the key
aspects needed to maintain a good status as a team. This semester, Hoosier
Rowing is focusing on grades more than ever, and it's already turning out to be
a successful semester.
I would like to thank Patrick O'Hara for taking the time to answer some
questions for the blog! As one final comment, I inquired as to what his
favorite race in his coxing career has been. "I've been a coxswain since the
fall of my Freshman year in high school (2006), and although there have been
many memorable races, practices, and experiences, my most favorable memory,
which motivates me to become a better coxswain with each day that passes, was
waiting at the starting docks for our heat at the Junior World Championships.
As the official calls out the names of the other countries, you forget
everything else that matters but the race you are about to experience. Although
it was the most gut-wrenching feeling I have ever experienced, it is still my
Anyone watch the Slam Dunk contest this weekend?I know, completely tangent to rowing,
but hang with me here for a second.Blake Griffin jumped over a KIA car in the Staple Center to become the
2011 Slam Dunk Champion.Seriously, a car?I started
looking up similar competitions and found the 3-Point Shooting contest, the
Home-Run Derby and the NFL Combine ... all the competitions that put the
attention towards individual performance.In the case with basketball, these competitions are pretty fun to watch
and soon the playoff season and March Madness will be underway.But what does this have to do with IU
I don't need to reiterate that rowing is a team sport,
that's clear.But if you think
about it, these individual competitions share some similarities with respect to
winter training.The winter
training season is about developing and preparing rowers for the spring racing
season.Although the team is
always the bigger picture in everyone's mind, these past few weeks have put
emphasis more so on the individual.I want to beat my 2k PR.I
need to get more reps in the circuit.I need to be within this certain split range... things like that.As each person gets faster, multiply
that by eight or four and you got yourself a fast line-up.
So although pulling a 2k or doing a circuit may not
be as thrilling as jumping over a car for a slam dunk, they kind of serve a
similar purpose - it's simple, make the individual better so the team is
better.I think soccer star Mia
Hamm says it nicely, "I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer
to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the
ultimate champion."The individual
accomplishments are great, but put that together for the success of the team,
now we're talkin'.
We were doing an erg workout on Thursday and many people
were holding faster splits than they necessarily needed to be.The team was really going after it
despite being sore from circuits and stadiums the previous day and workouts
leading up to it.As tough as
workouts like that may seem in the moment, it's a neat thing to think about
afterwards when you know the team is just flat out hungry to race.With the temperatures warming up,
everyone is keeping their fingers crossed to be back on the water sometime this
week.Only three more weeks and we're
off to Clemson.I don't know if
anyone will be dunking over any KIA's (well, who knows) but you can bet we'll
be trying to jump over feats of our own. - Jackie Riedel, Junior, Exercise Science Major
There are a lot of "behind the scenes" aspects to every
athletic organization that people that are not on that particular team never
see. I am, in this case, talking about weights. The rowing team and field
hockey ladies share, pardon the slang, a super bomb weights coach named Laine.
I think it's 50% fear 50% respect, but Laine can and will push you to
accomplish things at 6 o'clock in the morning that you really don't want to
do...ever. But you do it anyways because you know it makes the team stronger, and
it's just simply amazing to be fortunate enough to workout in a state of the
art area that over looks the football field, with highly trained staff. I could
think of no better way to start the day, sunrise over the stadium is
That is, until I hear the words "Versa Climber." If you have been lucky enough
to encounter one of these machines, you probably just felt an icy chill run
through your body at the mere thought of it. Personally, I like the burn and
want to stay as light as I can for the boat so I opt to do cardio during
weights, and a few other coxswains partake as well. Feel free to ask any of
them, all of us at one point or another have experienced a nightmare or two the
evening before weights that probably included something along the lines of
Laine saying "Good morning coxswains, 3,000 feet on the versa as fast as you
can, GO!" Senior Amy Coleman truthfully states, "It is a bad dream where you
keep climbing but never go anywhere! And there is a nice little voice coming
out of the machine (yes, it is interactive) that doesn't sound tired EVER ... Is
this how the rowers feel when we are coxing?" It's a mix between cross country
skiing, mountain climbing, erging, squats, and jogging. The rowers go through
so much pain on the erg, why shouldn't we be subjected to some tough work as
well? It not only makes me appreciate what the women do everyday, but also
makes me really glad I'm a coxswain. I have an ultimate sense of respect for
rowers - you guys amaze me. Maybe it's because I'm 5 feet tall and contain
about 50lbs less muscle than the average athlete, but I have no idea how you
guys do it - the athleticism, the intensity, it's awesome and sometimes I wish
I could just give you a hug in the middle of a piece rather than tell you push
it through the wall to reach your potential. But, that's not our job. We're
here to get a boat to go as fast as humanly possible, to push somebody to PR,
but I feel that in order to ask for that, coxswains should understand what it
feels like to be at that point of exhaustion, and that's why every one of us is
at weights bright and early.
So basically, the versa climber is our erg, and myself and any other cox that
is asked, will proudly climb until our bodies are numb, because we respect our
We had a 2k last Friday. I had forgotten what those "pre-race" jitters feel
like; it was like being woken up after hibernation. Even if it's done on dry
land, the feeling in the air before a 2k is one of excitement and adrenaline.
We all know how it feels to be sitting on the line and to look across at the
competition. So you other teams out there, just know that we eat that up, we
can smell your fear and use that as our fuel because we are like a controlled
force of nature out of that line. Use that adrenaline and put it back into
power and control and you're unstoppable. So enjoy looking across at us,
because you probably won't see us again, you'll just see the reflection of
cream and crimson in your coxswain's eyes. It's Spring-time,
here we come.
And finally, to conclude this (very long) post, senior spotlight of the week,
Ms. Pam Rachel Anderson:
Pam is a wonderful leader on the team, and an amazing person in general. She's
an old soul, wise beyond her years and is incredibly giving. She is a modest
person but a ferocious beast on the water. It's hard to find problems with
Pam's technique; she's like rowing warrior.
I asked sophomore Katie Connor if she had anything she would like to comment on
regarding Pam, and after clearing up the miscommunication that I was asking about
Pam the rower, not Pam the cooking spray, she said "I worked with Pam a lot
this summer in the double and she was always willing to help me improve. You
can tell that she's really passionate about rowing and the team." Anderson was
kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule and answer a few
questions: Q: What's a significant change you have seen in the team over the last
Anderson: In the 4 years that I have been on this team, there has been a lot of
change in terms of the culture. The girls on the team are much closer than when
I had joined as a freshman. I could honestly say that everyone on the team is a
friend of mine, not just a teammate. When I first came to IU, I felt like I had
a lot of really great teammates but now I feel like I have a lot of really
great friends who are also my teammates.
Q: Where's the most painful place you have gotten a blister?
Anderson: Most rowers get blisters on their hands, without fail, every year. I
have the good fortune of having awesome hands and I only ever get two or so
blisters a year! But, there are things that we sometimes don't plan for and the
worst happens. One day we unexpectedly ran after practice, and the only shoes I
had were sandals with straps on the backs. After running in sandals, I had two
huge blisters on the bottom of my feet. That made day-to-day things difficult,
like walking ... there is just no way around that! Lesson learned: always bring
running shoes to practice, just in case!
Q: Do you have any pre-race rituals?
Anderson: I treat every practice as if it was race day, and I treat every race
day as if it were practice. Although my nerves are heightened more so on race
day, I try not to do anything different. If I become anxious, I take a deep
breath and remind myself that this is just another day on Lake Lemon. The only
difference that precedes race time with practice time is that I listen to some
pretty hard-core pump-up music before launching.
This week had everyone's favorite erg workout - the 2k. The other day I was listening to one of
my teammates tell another athlete what it was like to do a 2k test.It went along the lines of something
"So what's this thing about a 2k?"
"We have one tomorrow morning."
"Well, what do you do?"
"It's 2000m as hard as you can possibly go in the shortest
amount of time.You know, it's
kind of like sprinting as hard as you can."
"How long does that take?"
"About 7 minutes."
"Eh, doesn't seem too bad."
Oh man, if you only knew.Everyone handles this workout differently.Some are excited, some nervous, some
come in with a plan, some don't, and some "just go."At the end of the day though, everyone feels the same
thing.After those high strokes
you really start to feel it, anything that was going on beforehand you seem to
forget and your sole focus is just going after it - find your rhythm and
go.With the first five hundred
down you're gunning for the half waypoint.This is when the piece tends to go by a little more
slowly.The adrenaline at the
beginning of the race was there to help you out and now you're starting to feel
that wall.You've got to push
through that wall.When you
finally get to the 1000m mark, the finish seems so close and yet so far away at
the same time.Seven hundred and
fifty left, you're lungs and legs are on fire and you're giving everything you've
got in your tank.You pass the
five hundred and start thinking about your sprint.Gut check.Now
you see who has what it takes, "the guts," to sprint this thing out and finish
Nope, not too bad at all.
Ok so the 2k test may not be everyone's favorite, but we
all know we need to do it.After
putting a few of these tests under our belt, you can tell the team is becoming
more and more confident with them.People are PR'ing and learning things that will help them go even faster.
Today was our first day feeling like spring is truly
around the corner.It was 55
degrees out and I even saw people driving with their windows down.All the things we've been learning on
the ergs will finally be put to good use when we get back on the water.A month from now we'll be on our way to
Clemson for spring break.It's
finally really starting to look and feel like racing season.
quickly discover that I love quotes, especially the cheesy inspirational ones.
For this week's notable statement, Brad Alan Lewis, author of WANTED: Rowing Coach wrote, "Rigging is
like Zen meditation. You must bend over the boat until your back is breaking,
until your brain is filled with numbers and fractions of numbers, until you can
accurately measure an oarlock's pitch without bothering to use the pitch meter.
Only then will you see the way of eternal rigging happiness."
Reading this, whether you are familiar with the sport of rowing or not, there's
something you should know: the members of a crew are obsessed with the sport. I'm
talking pure, unconditional love of rowing. Well, some may not agree if you
were to ask them this in the middle of a 2k, but anybody who has been given the
privilege to strap in understands the attachment. I'm not saying it's easy or
fun all the time, but it is all worth
it when the bow ball crosses that finish line. After practice three times a
week, I share a class with a few fellow teammates. I must say that it can be
incredibly difficult to pay attention to complex vocabulary and theories while
my mind churns with the happenings of the previous workout, what went well,
what needs to be improved upon, my teammates' opinions of how they are doing
and what else they want to achieve. Rowing is constantly on my radar, and I
gladly sport stinky "Hoosiers Rowing" gear at training tables after a session
of weights or a long run. There's something about the way a shell feels when
its perfectly set on the recovery, the sight of stroke seat's intense
concentration, the feeling of four or eight or two individuals putting aside
their differences and moving in unison that gives me goose bumps out on the
water (I have honestly been brought to tears a few times by the grace in which
a boat moves once a crew figures out how to make it work, but don't tell my
girls that). So basically, if you have never had the opportunity to experience
what it's like to row, make sure to step outside your comfort zone and go for
it someday, it may change your life as it has changed mine.
This week is a mix of recovery and weights as the gals prepare for an erg test.
We've had some very beneficial practices. It's nice to be able to take as much
time as we want to work on technique with ergs. Coach Steve mentioned in Monday's
practice that now is the time to fine
tune the changes that we want to see on the water in the spring since we have
this up-close and personal time on land. The IU coxswains are focusing on
working on specifics with individuals, as well as when we're set up with
multiple people on sliders, and the Varsity and Novice squads have been working
together wonderfully, bonding through time spent in the weight room and on the
erg. A couple very cool recruits were in town last weekend as well, and they
were able to have an inside look at practice and even attend the epic IU Vs.
Iowa battle at Assembly Hall, as well experience the wonders of Jiffy Treat and
Baked (the sources of many gained ponds seen on the weight room scale).
We've really got an incredible, strong willed group of athletes; Hoosier Rowing
is, to put it bluntly, AWESOME.
How are you?How's it going?Nine times out of ten, I'll probably
tell you "I'm livin' the dream."Seriously though?"Psshh,
yes I'm serious."
Everyone's "dreams" are
different.There's an ideal
everything for every individual.But
for a team, that's a completely different story.I've heard so many times that rowing is the ultimate team
sport, that's one of the things that makes it so interesting (beside from the
fact that it's the only sport you can win going backwards sitting down, of
course).But seriously, in order
for a team to be truly successful, everyone needs to come together and work
towards a common goal.A common "dream"
I guess you could say.But how do
you get there?
After talking with some of
my teammates, it's the team that gets them through the hard times, those tough
pieces in training.This past
Saturday's practice we were doing pieces on sliders in pairs.When we were talking about the workout
afterwards, someone mentioned that this workout pushed her further than if she
was by herself because a teammate was with her.It was more team-oriented.It was more like racing.If there's one thing that I know many on the team would
agree with me, it's the fact that our team is our family.Now how's that for corny?You might think so and I certainly don't
blame you, but it's the honest truth.Here's what a few of my teammates said with regard to the best thing
about the IU Rowing Program:
"The relationship the team has with each other
is unlike anything anywhere else." -Rachel Anderson, senior
"The team is very close knit; there is always
someone there when you need them." -Ellie Benson, senior
"Being part of the team is amazing. I've met some of
my best friends through this experience." -Sara Berline, senior
"The commitment, dedication and enthusiasm
from all my teammates makes the program great!"-Lane Bogard, junior
"My teammates are such wonderful people. They
are always supportive and truly care about the team." -Rachel Griffin,
"The IU Rowing program is a great place for
all individuals to join and be a part of an integral team where they can build
lifelong friendships with girls from all over the world." -Katie Honson,
"The best part is the group of girls you
become close with. You get to know each other really well and push each other
to work to their highest potential. " -Annie Thompson, sophomore
"The girls on the team are competitive, fun,
hard working and friendly. They're always there to help you." -Asja Zero,
In winter training, it's
definitely pretty easy to get caught up in how YOU'RE doing, rather than the
bigger picture.You get the erg
results and want to see where you stand.That's only natural, but there's more to it than that.We go down the course in eights and
fours, not singles.As we push
ourselves, we push each other.We're
constantly trying to make ourselves, and therefore, the team the fastest it can
possibly be.The fact that you get
to do it with a group of people, your rowing family, that are so passionate
about the same thing you are is an added bonus.Pretty cool, huh?
Another week behind us,
and another week closer to our spring break trip only 34 days away.Until then, I'll be livin' the dream.
One of the wonderful aspects of Bloomington is the variety
of activities available any day of the week. This past Saturday, for example, a
fellow teammate and myself ventured into town to explore a function that was
highlighted on an online events calendar called, "A Week of
Chocolate." Each day this week, a different activity around town is hosted
and has something to do with the delicious treat. We enjoyed visiting one of
Indiana's many museums and were excited to find that locals as well as university
students were chowing on ice cream sundae's (with tons of chocolate toppings,
of course), and listening to live music while kids stared wide-eyed at the many
interesting exhibits. Chocolate was followed by an exhilarating win by Hoosiers
Basketball over Minnesota, mid-week. I love this school.
However, as fabulous as it is to enjoy free time, there's
work to be done. Every practice is one less until spring racing begins. Think
of it this way: in a 2k, a rower only takes between 200 and 250 strokes. With
so few, there is very little room for error, and that's why we are so picky
about staying on top of things as we wait for Lake Lemon to thaw. I'm sure most
have heard tell of the awful weather hammering major parts of the country, but
you better believe that come Tuesday morning, the rowing team was whipping-out
an erg test instead of letting ice dictate our practice schedule! This week has
been exhausting, and everybody is pushing themselves to the limit, but we are
balancing the intensity with plenty of rest time. The opportunity to take a
breather not only helps the body to recover, but it also gives the team a
mental break; some time to have to themselves.
Magic Johnson once said "Ask not what your teammates
can do for you, but what you can do for your teammates." That's the type
of attitude I see at practice. We are what we believe we are, and it starts
with trust and teamwork, knowing that every member, cox or rower or coach, is
in a sense, pulling their weight. That's the kind of thing that keeps us fired
up and ready to go through the chilly months.
many, Andy William's "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" tune brings
holiday memories and Christmas cheer- but not for IU Rowers.Ask any Hoosier rower and without a
doubt, the most wonderful time of the year is winter training.Erging, lifting, running, erging,
waking up early, erging... what's not to love?I mean, "it's the happiest season of all," right guys?
on a serious note, there is very little about winter training that anyone would
consider "wonderful."Our days on the
water seem distant and every snowfall makes spring seem that much farther
away.Call me a Negative Nancy but
the reality: winter training is tough, but it's supposed to be.Yeah, the workouts are challenging, but
it's an exciting time for us.We're training smart and we're going fast.As a junior, I've been able to see how much IU Rowing has
grown since my freshmen year.Every season is built from the last and we're only getting stronger and
stronger.Even just three short
weeks into winter training coming off of a trip from Tampa, we have a lot of
good things to look forward to.The racing season is just around the corner with spring break training
in Clemson only 40 short days away.After spring break, everything really flies by.One weekend after another up until Big
Tens, we're competing against teams that will definitely put our boat speeds to
the test.Every practice since the
fall, the long steady states, the erg tests, the "Lanie Playtimes" (everyone's
favorite), you name it has been preparing us for these next few months.I guess figuratively speaking you could
say we've been putting money in the bank for sometime now and we're ready to
cash out.So although things right
now might seem tough, before we know it, we'll be sitting at the starting line
listening for the official to get the boats aligned and start the race.You might say I'm crazy, but it happens
hope this blog will be a fun way for you to follow us on our way through the
Tampa, Florida: Beautiful
sunsets, dolphins in the bay, and sound of eight strong rowers pushing blades
through the water, powering a shell through the channel. What a great way to
begin winter training. But the warmth was not to last; now back in
Bloomington, the real work begins! Weeks of indoor training will only
strengthen our team fitness and spirit, and I have no doubt that we will hit
the water this spring stronger than ever. It is a glorious sight to see the
rowers moving on the sliders together, every action completed in unison as they
take one erg piece and test at a time, focusing on finding that perfect stroke.
Balancing school and rowing is a challenge each of us on the team faces daily,
but with the help of our coaches and teammates, winter training will be the
building blocks to our success come sprint season. True, it can be unpleasant
waking up at the crack of dawn and braving icy paths to get to the erg room,
but we love it. The smell of vinegar and bleach used to clean the erg machines,
Gatorade water bottles filled to the brim, and each member of the team
dedicatedly up early, wearing cream and crimson, ready to go.
As a freshman
coxswain, this is my first year competing as a collegiate rower. I
love every minute of practice and the challenge of getting to know each of my
teammates is a task I take seriously. The Hoosiers will be successful in the
spring; we will place highly at the Big Ten Championship, and these blogs will
document the hard work and effort that we will put forth to reach our goals!