Women's Rowing Spring Training Blog

Spring Training 2011

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The Holy Cross women's rowing team went to Cocoa Beach, Fla., to start their spring training sessions. Senior Nicole Gabana, senior Katherine Byrns, freshman Bridget Schirripa, freshman Meiling May, junior Meaghan Pedlow,  junior Mollie Sydlowski and freshman Lauren Carlo blogged about their experiences.

The Blog:

The Summary
By Nicole Gabana

As our Spring Break comes to a close, there seems to be a unanimous feeling of both accomplishment and future responsibility. This week of sunny weather, (relatively) flat water, and uninterrupted rowing has been a refreshing reminder of what our hard work in the winter is all about. We have been building up our strength both in the weight room and on the ergs, and this week has been the perfect opportunity to see how our effort and determination has paid off over the past couple of months. Our team as a whole has maintained a consistent sense of focus and drive in order to put 100% into every practice. 

With these positive points noted, it is understood that we still have a long way to go; as we approach our racing season, the months ahead call for an attitude of constant improvement, dedication and striving for perfection. Every practice, every piece, every stroke must be one of mindful attention and awareness. Skill can only be increased by refusing to settle for "autopilot," and as we move our team back into the erg room, we plan to make an active effort to maintain our focus. 

With our fruitful Spring Training trip behind us, we will work diligently through the next couple of weeks to prepare for our first race on March 26, 2011. Hopefully by then, the ice will be melted and Lake Quinsigamond will be ready for us!

Day Seven: The Conclusion
By Katherine Byrns

After a night of great entertainment by our teammates' skits, we woke up early this morning ready to scrimmage the WPI women's rowing team.  We raced four times, each a different length. The competition was a chance for us to show what we have worked on this week.  It allowed us to see the importance of working together and staying focused in our own boat in order to be successful. After the scrimmage, we continued our practice doing some pieces and working on technique.

Back at the hotel, we grabbed some lunch, went for a swim in the pool and a few of us walked down to the beach. With just a quick break in between practices, we headed back to the water for our last row. We practiced a handful of pieces with starts and high ratings. The boats were really moving through the water in the way we wanted them to, putting together all of our progress this week. As a senior, this was my last row on the Banana River after seven winter and spring training trips. On the paddle back to the shore, I recalled memories from the past four years here in Cocoa Beach.  Once off the water, we de-rigged and washed all of the boats and oars, and loaded the trailer for its trip back to Worcester. Thinking about all of the hard work and team bonding that has taken place over the past few years, especially this trip, the seniors shared a bit of sadness as we drove back to the hotel.

For our last night of the trip, the whole team went out to dinner down the street for Beth's birthday. After dinner, some of us went to a few shops to buy some Cocoa Beach t-shirts and souvenirs, and returned to start packing. We all couldn't believe how quickly this trip passed by. Over this past week we have achieved so much. It was great to take a break from the hard work on the ergs, apply our strength on the water and get the feeling of being in a boat again since our first race is scheduled in two weeks. Hopefully the ice on Lake Quinsigamond will soon be gone as we are very eager to get back out there and start the season. This week has really brought the varsity and novice teams together, all of the girls have formed friendships with one another and we really developed the meaning of a team. As we head back to Holy Cross tomorrow, we will reflect on a successful week and continue to work hard in preparation for our spring season.

Day Six: Birthday Bash
By Bridget Schirripa

Today was both Coach Patrick's and junior teammate Beth Charron's birthday, so naturally the day was filled with a great amount of singing and cheer. After an early morning breakfast with a few birthday wishes we loaded the vans and headed down to the water. The weather today looked a lot better than yesterday with the sun shining. As we stepped outside, it was colder and windier than expected. Wading into the water to start the row we noted how the water was warmer than the air.

The morning practice was filled with much of the same workouts, however a little surprise came our way - we got to row a new Vespoli boat. All I can say is that this boat was amazing! On our row up Sykes Creek we focused on technique and again rowed on the square. When we reached flat water we began the 1000 meter pieces, followed by a few one-minute pieces.

After practice some grabbed much-needed food while others caught up on the sun they missed yesterday. With a quick nap under our belts, we headed down to the water again. Not only did we have warmer weather for the afternoon practice but also more 1000 meter pieces. We added something new to the pieces - racing starts. It was really interesting to hear Patrick's thoughts on starts. This season he decided to do a ½ slide, ½ slide, ¾ slide, and then a full slide stroke followed by a high 15 and a settle 10 sequence. After focusing on each stroke individually, we put it together and felt the excitement as we look forward to the spring season.

Day Five: Row Row Row your boat...and row some more
By Meiling May

Back in the routine of waking up early for breakfast and morning practice, the team woke up to an overcast sky and the forecast of an impending rainstorm. After a successful pigtail themed day, the team was prepared for any challenge. Today's theme was dress like your bedmate, where we did our best to impersonate our roommates' diverse personalities and style. After one too many pictures, we headed down to Banana River for what seemed to be a nice morning row. With an impending rainstorm in mind, we didn't head out to the canal, but rather, stayed closer to the shore. We began our practice with a few drills that aimed at improving our technique and then transitioned into a mix of short and long pieces. During one of the pieces, the rain began to fall, but the team continued to row well, despite the wind and wet conditions. As the light rainfall turned to a heavy downpour, the coaches decided to end practice early. We rowed back into shore and were greeted by a long line of other crews ready to land right behind our crew. The girls quickly returned the boats to the trailer and ran to the vans for shelter from the elements. We returned to the hotel, where the girls rehydrated, ate lunch, and rested for the afternoon practice.

After a few hours of well-deserved downtime, we took our team picture. This afternoon's theme was temporary tattoos. The girls once again loaded into the vans, now fully decorated with temporary tattoos, prepared for a nice afternoon row. We rowed down to the canal and did a few longer pieces.

Coming into the evening, we look forward to a night of crafts led by the juniors while the seniors enjoy a nice dinner with the coaches. With a night full of fun ahead of us, we eagerly await the night's activities and look forward to tomorrow's row.

Day Four: Pig Tails Row Together
By Meaghan Pedlow

Instead of the usual get up, get out, and row routine, many went to church to receive ashes for Ash Wednesday. The retired and friendly Cocoa Beach community embraced our spandex outfits. After returning and eating a quick energizing breakfast we loaded up the vans, but this was no normal day. Patrick announced mandatory pigtails for every team member to be worn all day. With the threat of jumpies, the team looked fresh all day.

Practice was filled with longer pieces. Unlike yesterday it was breezy. We continued to work on blade work, which has been beneficial. Improvements on boat balance are visible already. With one more practice under our belt, we headed back to the hotel.

Back at our home base of the Comfort Inn, many found relief in making sandwiches, taking a break from the high noon sun, or bronzing poolside for a short time. Personally, I found solace in the warm sand of Cocoa Beach. Despite the overwhelming presence of seagulls, many enjoyed the overcast afternoon.

Do not worry, the sun came out in time for our afternoon practice. We headed back to Sykes Creek to tackle the wind, and have a productive practice. Staying in a protected area, we took advantage of the semi flat water to work on shorter pieces. These pieces showed room for more improvement, especially in rough waters, but reassured us we were on the right track by ending practice on a good piece. We are looking forward to advancement as the week progresses. Returning to the hotel, salty, tired, yet encouraged, we ended our hairstyle-centered day with dinner, a team meeting and announcement for tomorrow's plan…

Day Three: Believe
By Mollie Sydlowski

Today was an overall success, resulting from two solid practices and a day of beautiful weather. The team woke up at a reasonable hour of 7:00 a.m., and had a hearty breakfast before heading down to the water. Before we even got out in the boats, the sun was beaming and the wind was nowhere to be found; it already seemed as though it was going to be a good row.

We began by paddling through the winding canals of Cocoa Beach, Florida, working on a lot of technique and trying to piece together one good stroke after another.  With the flat water, the warm up and subsequent pieces felt relaxed and strong.  We seemed to be locking on to a rhythm, and allowing ourselves to transfer all of our erg training to the oar. After spending so much time in the erg room at Holy Cross the countdown to coming to Florida seemed as though it would go on forever. Now that we are here, we are constantly trying to use every minute to our advantage. At the end of our first practice, we headed back to the hotel and had lunch, a little bit of time in the sun, and made sure we had time for some rest (in my case a much needed nap). When early afternoon rolled around, we headed down to the water for our second practice. Again we worked on technique, and also some longer pieces. Last night, we watched a documentary called "The Heart of the Game" about a women's high school basketball team. The main theme of the movie was to "Believe." To believe in ourselves, to believe in the person next to us (or in front of/ behind us) and to believe in what we can do when we all work together. Today, we did a lot of "believing" and it was amazing to feel the boat run out as we pulled through difficult pieces. I think this phrase will be our motto for the season, and I think a lot of the team has taken a liking to it.

After the second practice, we all headed to our hotel to rest and have dinner. Also, it is one of our teammate's birthdays, so we obviously celebrated with a cake from the fabulous Winn Dixie across the street. Some rest is definitely needed, and hopefully we can all sleep well before the beginning of Day Four! 

Day Two: Everything's peachy
By Lauren Carlo

The day started out early with a wake up call of 7:00 a.m. Everyone got out of bed and into the vans to begin our day on the water. The weather was beautiful again, and there were a few porpoise spottings. We have been strictly rowing on the square to get people to focus in on the set and the finish. We worked on some fast paced sprints but for the most part the morning practice was all about technique and getting the boat to move smoothly. We came back from practice around 11:00 a.m. and hit up the grocery store. Being in college means more freedom, but it also entails making our own food. The noodles we put together may not have been the best, but we definitely got the pb&j's right. We were given a few hours to chill out and lie in the sun trying to counteract our t-shirt tans. We met back up at 3:30 p.m. to go to our afternoon practice. The afternoon practice consisted of a more intense workout. We did 100, 750 and 250 meter pieces. Anytime we were paddling in between the parts of our workout we were on the square. Coach Patrick's goal for this week is to be able to balance our boats on the square, because if we can do it on the square we can do it on the feather. After we got back to the hotel and got some dinner, we watched a documentary called "The Heart of The Game" it had absolutely nothing to do with rowing, but it had everything to do with passion, heart and wolf packs. Then it was time for bed, within five minutes our entire room had passed out for the night.

Day One: Arrival
By Lauren Carlo

A long day leads to warm sun and even warmer attitudes. We had a wake up call of 3:00 a.m. and made our way to Bradley Airport. After almost convincing our driver to take us to Disney World, spirits were high as we arrived at our hotel and unpacked after a short delay. There was no delay however, in throwing our stuff to the side, laying out and soaking up some much needed sun. The weather was absolutely beautiful; 75 degrees and sunny. Shortly after our mob of 30 or so girls attacked the nearest Subway, we hopped in the vans and went to our site to de-rig. But don't worry, we got to blast the radio with Coach Patrick on the way there. So after serenading, we de-rigged throughout sporadic torrential down pours.  We had time for a quick nap, or for some, to figure out the internet. Shortly after we were blessed with the privilege of rowing on the water for the first time in four months. Today we used practice as a way to reacquaint ourselves with the stroke. We worked a lot on technique particularly at the finish. We learnt about getting "big" with our shoulders back and open our "belly buttons."  As practice went on, Patrick told us to "yank" the oar at the finish in order to finish cleanly. Working our way back to the dock we noted how changed the row felt. The beginning started out a little shaky but as we finished the practice it felt much improved and seems like a step in the right direction.