Holy Cross Rowing Diary: In The Shell With Greg Connors

Greg Connors

Diary Entries
April 13, 2005
March 4, 2005

April 13, 2005

Rowing championships are won in the winter months. The cold, grueling months of late November, December, January, February and early March set the tone for a team's spring season. During this time, teams strive to build both an aerobic base and an anaerobic threshold with which they will win races. Worcester's winter weather always allows for Holy Cross to have plenty of time indoors, ensuring strength and speed. Unfortunately, that time indoors was extended this year, all the way into April. The winter training is incredibly grueling as is, physically and even more so mentally, and the extended workouts really presented a challenge for our program. The athletes pushed themselves athletically, but also continued to do so academically, as the course load certainly does not lighten as the crew season progresses. However, the team remained focused, taking advantage of the extra time on the ergs and ensuring that our conditioning is as good as anyone's we will face this year.

Our first few races had to be completed with incredibly limited water time because of the blanket of ice covering Lake Quinsigamond. Despite that limited water time, our boats persevered and showed our potential. Competing at the Jesuit Invitational the weekend of March 19 on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J., we raced St. Joseph's, Boston College, Georgetown, Fairfield, Fordham and Loyola (Md.). Despite some slightly disappointing results, our team showed that even in mid-March, with only spring break water time under our belt, we can compete with some of the better schools nationally. Our lightweights placed fourth behind Georgetown, Boston College and Georgetown B, while the heavyweights rowed exceptionally well, placing second behind Georgetown. The second varsity eight placed third behind St. Joe's and Georgetown, while the freshman eight placed third behind St. Joe's and Georgetown.

The weekend of March 26, with our lake still frozen, we moved our raced scheduled for Lake Quinsigamond to the Merrimack River in Lowell, Mass., where we competed against Coast Guard and Wesleyan. (Additionally, the lightweights raced again in the afternoon against Boston College, finishing behind BC for the second weekend in a row, but having significantly cut down their margin of victory in consideration of still having no water time on Lake Quinsigamond.) The varsity eight, second varsity eight and third varsity eights (A and B boats) all won convincingly against Coast Guard and Wesleyan, sending us with some real momentum into our third racing weekend.

Racing Dartmouth on our recently thawed home course, our varisty eight placed first, and our lightweight boat placed third behind Dartmouth's top boat in that same race. The freshman eight and second varsity eight both placed second. Still behind considerably in water time, our team maintained focus and put up a good fight against one of the better teams we will face all year.

Next, the team faced one of its biggest challenges of the season in Trinity College. Our second varsity eight finished only 2.9 seconds off Trinity's second boat and our second varsity eight B rounded out third place in that same race. Certainly not pleased with having lost, the second and third eights simply took this race as a learning experience, and a sign that we are right there in terms of winning a New England Championship. Our varisty eight fought through tough conditions and also placed second, while our varsity four won in a tight race, beating out Trinity.

The following day, we raced in the Worcester City Championships versus WPI. Sweeping all but one event, we recharged as a team, and prepared for an intense week of practice leading into our final regular season race versus Colby, Tufts, Ithaca and Connecticut College. As we prepare for this challenge, the team, and each individual boat, has rededicated itself to the goals at hand: a New England Championship, and a Gold medal at the ECAC National Championship. Our goals are definitely within reach, and as the medal season heats up, our team looks forward to the challenges that lie ahead, falling back on our intense and beneficial winter training season.

Until Next Time,
Greg Connors

 

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March 4, 2005

The water of Lake Quinsigamond surrounds us eight rowers and our coxswain while our coach trails in the launch, calling out commands. We all exhale together, pulling on the oars and sending the boat further down the lake. As the boat sets up perfectly, you can hear the water trickling down the hull as nine of us glide as one. These types of practices are what every rower lives for. Nothing can describe the feeling of being perfectly set, rowing in unison with your teammates while hovering above the smooth surface of the water. This indescribable feeling and these types of indescribable moments make all the year's hard work and discipline - the grueling practices and intense lifts - worth every minute.

Of all the sports I have ever played, nothing compares to crew in its ability to reward its participants. Crew challenges individuals to challenge themselves on a daily basis and the lessons of determination and preparation that I have learned from rowing are applicable to every aspect of my life. No other sport that I have played generates the passion and camaraderie that unite anyone who has ever been involved with rowing.

When applying for college, I knew that I wanted to continue to row, having participated for three years in high school - one as a coxswain, two as a rower. Holy Cross, though not carrying the distinction of being one of the Ivy League schools, allows me to compete on an Ivy League level, while getting as good an education as I would at any Ivy League school. Currently a Junior English major, Holy Cross has been the perfect fit for me. But it was not always that way.

Early in my freshman year I thought of transferring, but eventually decided against such an action because of the relationships that had blossomed between teammates and coaches alike. Training with them each and every day, experiencing the same grueling routines of lifts, practices, and classes, I became closer than I could have imagined with my teammates. Together with Coach Sullivan, they convinced me to remain at Holy Cross without really knowing what a huge impact they were having on me. Surrounding oneself with great people allows one, if he so chooses, to pursue greatness himself. I have been and continue to be privileged with that opportunity because of the people on the men's team.

Holy Cross itself and specifically the men's rowing program, while they certainly provide a welcoming and comforting setting conducive to the formation of long lasting friendships, also provide you the opportunity to be taught and coached by some of the most dedicated and inspirational people you will have the privilege of ever meeting. Generous with their time and energy, Coach Sullivan and the faculty here at Holy Cross commit themselves wholeheartedly to improving students' experiences.

The rowers on the men's team here at Holy Cross, together with Coach Sullivan make up one of the strongest programs in the country, true to the unrelenting, competitive nature of the sport, but also, and more importantly, honestly dedicated to the principles set forth by this Jesuit institution in the construction and formation of men for others. Each and every day, each and every practice is preparation for the future and invaluable experience for life.

Everyone involved with Holy Cross crew dedicates themselves daily to the task of constantly improving the program, whether by recruiting more intensely, or simply improving the quality of relationships amongst current members of the team. Through these entries I will hopefully portray an honest picture of the men's program and how it affects a student's college experience. I hope to give prospective students, their families, and anyone else interested in Holy Cross or rowing in general an inside look at what it means to be a part of this great team and larger institution. Currently, we are gearing up for spring break in Gainesville, Georgia where we practice on Lake Linear, which was the host site for the Olympics in 1996. Upon returning, we commence our spring season - one of our most promising ever.

Until Next Time,
Greg Connors

 

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