Permanent link for GVSU Rowing Club � Spring Break Blogs 2022 - Day 8 � Saturday, March 12th on March 14, 2022

Miles Hagmeyer – Varsity Man

We wouldn’t be able to call it a Grand Valley Rowing experience if it didn’t go out with a bang. After a week of high intensity seat racing and high training volume, the team was about to see its first spring 2k race in almost two years. The day began sunny and windy, but the weather has never stopped us before. I launched as the stroke seat of the men’s 1v8, prepared to take on Clemson on their fully buoyed 2k course. The wind continued ramping up as we ran the pre-race warmup, and while getting alignment, we knew conditions would be far from ideal. 

We sat at even, and when the flag dropped, we pried the boat up to speed cleanly. It wasn’t until we reached the first 500 meter mark that both crews realized this was going to be more of a battle against the elements than against each other. Waves began to whitecap, and we fought to maintain composure as water crashed over our riggers. With 500m left to the finish, we entered a less protected portion of the course and were hit by the full force of a 30 mile-per-hour crosswind. The men persevered, and we crossed the finish line soaking wet and with water almost filling the hull. 

The row back to the dock consisted mostly of bailing water out of the shell, but spirits were still high. The feeling of warm water and lactic acid couldn’t have been sweeter, knowing that your teammates were experiencing the same for you. All in all, it was a lesson not to fight the losing battle against an angry mother nature that we probably still wouldn’t learn. When the trailer was loaded and wet clothes were replaced with their dry counterparts, we departed on the van ride home, knowing this would be another unforgettable piece of the coveted spring racing season of Grand Valley Rowing.


Maria Rueda-Rodriguez – Varsity Woman

The last day in Clemson also meant race day for us. My day started at 6 am when my alarm woke me up. I got ready for the day and headed to the lobby for breakfast. For breakfast, I had a bagel with butter and apple juice. After breakfast, I loaded my stuff into our van, and we headed to Clemson for our scrimmage against them.

We arrived at Clemson where the weather was not the best for racing, unfortunately. The plan was to race a 2k and some shorter 500m sprint pieces. We entered one varsity men’s eight, two varsity women’s eights, one novice women’s eight, and a novice men’s eight as well. I was in one of the women’s varsity boats. Due to strong winds and water currents, the racing was rough. We didn’t get to do the short race pieces, and right after our 2k races we had to go back to the dock. After getting back to land, we de-rigged all the boats and loaded the trailer so we could head back home.

Once we were done loading the trailer, we all got in our vans and stopped for lunch in downtown Clemson. I had pizza for lunch with other teammates, and then it was time to hit the road. I was not excited to have to sit and drive for twelve hours, but we got home safely and had some fun times along the way!


Jacob Galloway – Novice Man

The last day of the trip started by packing the vans with our luggage and a quick breakfast before one last row at Clemson. We had a quick 2k scrimmage against Clemson on some very choppy water. The weather was not in our favor today. Temperatures in the 40s and wind gusts around 45 mph made for a difficult row. I was in a mixed 8+ with some of my teammates and some of Clemson’s crew. We raced against Clemson novice men on one side and Grand Valley novice men on the other. The first 1500 meters of the race was decent with some current rocking the boat, but the last 500m was unlike anything I’ve rowed in previously. Water was overflowing the boats as we raced along the course fighting the wind and the current. Thankfully, we finished, but with soaked clothes and shivers. It was quite an experience!

After a treacherous docking because of the wind, we made it back to land and seemingly dumped gallons of water out of the boats. Then, it was all hands on deck to de-rig the boats and pack up the trailer. Once again, the weather was not on our side - lots of wind and numb hands from the cold. Afterwards, each van went off to one last lunch in busy downtown Clemson. My van went to Moe’s Southwest Grill (similar to Chipotle), and I had a delicious burrito bowl.

Finally, it was time to fill the vans with gas and head north back to Grand Rapids. Driving through the Carolina and Tennessee mountains was beautiful, especially with some added snow. The vans stopped for stretching, gas, and snacks every three hours. I bought way too much sugar, but it’s spring break, so I can’t be hard on myself. The ride itself was filled with short naps and playing Monopoly. Dinner was a grilled chicken club sandwich and waffle fries from Chick-fil-A around Lexington, Kentucky. There were no lines, as opposed to the Michigan locations. 

Soon, we resumed and the road became flat and dark as we drove through Indiana and west Michigan back to Grand Valley. Finally, we arrived at 4:00 am Sunday morning! Now, time for some sleep and resuming practice on the Grand River. Great work this week!


Alyssa Cassie – Novice Woman

I woke up and started my day around 6:15am. This morning was earlier than usual because we had to load the vans as this was the day that we headed home. However, before heading home, we had one final practice in Clemson which consisted of a 2k race against their team. We were all pretty pumped for this race until our boats hit the water. Our initial warmup was pretty smooth and less worrisome, but when we finally reached the racecourse, a wide open area with less land to block the wind, reality hit. Our pre-race warm up became very rocky as we attempted to pull through the waves and as we worked through our bursts, an unsettling feeling set in. As we sat and waited for our race, our coxswain had to consistently readjust our boat as the wind carried us. Our turn to race finally arrived, so we got ourselves situated at the starting line. We began the race pretty strong with only a few minor complications, but as the race went on, we gradually began to feel the small wrath of the waves. Our race was stopped early because of the waves, and we ultimately ended up in last place. After the race, we continued to fight our way through the waves, working as a team to head back to the docks. After getting splashed from all angles and hopping out of the boat already more wet than preferred, we lifted the boat filled with water only to become drenched and freezing in the strong gusts of wind. Immediately post-strapping down the boat, our coach released us to change into dry clothes, and then we were to help derig and load the trailer. After all was said and done, we grabbed some lunch and headed back to campus.

During the early hours of our 13 hour trip home, my van decided to start the trip with a game. Each person was to say a sentence that added onto the last person’s in an attempt to create a story. The first few sentences had so many surprising elements that one of the members decided to start writing it all down. The story contained myriad plot twists and out-of-left-field details that we couldn’t help but laugh at throughout that time. Once we finished the story and our writer read it back to us, we deemed it worthy of being shared with the rest of the team. We made stops every few hours to switch drivers. During one of the last couple of stops, we motivated each other, with no other option, to hold on for the last home stretch. After what felt like forever, we finally arrived back on campus to find snow and freezing weather, and so we each hurried home after collecting all of our belongings from a long and successful trip.


Permanent link for GVSU Rowing Club � Spring Break Blogs 2022 Day 7 � Friday, March 11th on March 14, 2022

Simon Scheer – Varsity Man – See Comic Attached


Maddie Gilbert – Varsity Woman

Today marks our last full day in Clemson! We started off the morning as normal with a quick brekkie in the hotel, and then we headed out to the water. For this morning’s practice, my boat did a couple stationary drills and then some cat 6 work by 6s and 8s. You could tell that we were all a little tired from a full week of training, but we worked together and were able to take some good strokes nevertheless. 


After practice, some of my teammates and I went to this local restaurant called Sully’s Steamers. They served warm bagel sandwiches and they were delicious! Once we rested at the hotel for a little while, some teammates and I made an excursion to the local goodwill. We were on the hunt for some graphic t-shirts to cut into muscle tees and were very successful!

Later, we had our last evening practice for the trip and worked on our start sequence and took our iconic annual team picture! Then, we headed to the dining hall and had our last dinner of the trip. I changed it up a bit and sat with the novice men and ended up having some quality conversations with them! Once we arrived back at the hotel, I hung out with some friends, called my family to check in, and got my stuff all packed up. Soon, I’ll go to bed and be all rested up for a fun little scrimmage in the morning. All in all, it was a fun last full day in South Carolina! :)


Brendon Snedeker – Novice Man

You may hear many different preferences, but, personally, any day on the water is automatically better than if we weren’t. Today started off quite sluggish in the novice 8. I was in 6 seat for all of the morning practice which was one long steady state row. We started with a long and slow stroke rate of 18 spm for close to 10,000 meters before we decided to turn around. At our turn around, there was a small waterfall tucked away in a little cove. We sat there for about 10 minutes talking about technical stuff. After our talk, we picked it back up on our way back to the dock. Rowing by all 8, we rowed for about 4000 meters before switching in a new bow pair. After the switch, Coach Kyle had us try out some starts to prepare for Saturday’s race against Clemson. Then we returned to a light steady state to get us back to the dock to end the morning practice.

After the morning practice, many of the vans went into the campus area for lunch and some shopping. I, however, was quite tired and in need of rest, so I got in the van that would return back to the hotel. Once I got back to my room, I took a short nap to catch up on some sleep. After my nap, I went back down to the hotel lobby where I met up with Carlos and Simon. We decided to take a short walk down the road to a common fast food restaurant in the area called Bojangles which, like most restaurants around here, sells lots of chicken. After ordering, we all decided that we needed to try some of their legendary iced tea which turned out to be pretty good, but like most sweet tea was a little bit of tea and a lot of sugar. After we finished eating, we returned to the hotel where we started a game of Uno and played until it was time to leave for the afternoon practice.

The afternoon practice today consisted of a much better vibe and some race prep for tomorrow. Line ups were the same as the lineup from the morning practice, post-switch. We started with some swing picks by boat halves into full strokes which was followed by full boat rowing. After a little bit, we stopped and had our talk about technique and the different things each rower needed to work on. After a short talk, it was time to dial it in and work on our starting sequence. We proceeded to work on our starts and the following few strokes. After a few of those, we did a start followed by 2ish minutes of race pace rowing. After that we spun around to start our return to the docks. We did another one of the starts with 2 minutes at race pace followed by some steady state and some rev ups scattered here and there. Once we were nearing the docks, it was time to take our team spring break photo. We struggled a bit to get each separate boat close enough to get us all in one picture, but once together, we all stood in our seats to strike a pose for the picture. Once that was finished, we pushed apart and headed for the docks. Once on land, we strapped down our boats and had our team talk. We hit a break down and departed for dinner, minds set foremost on food with the race day vibes building as we come closer and closer to our first races of the spring season.


Brina Crown – Novice Woman

Today marks our last full day in Clemson. I started my morning out awaking to the sound of Buckwild playing as me and my roommates’ 6:30 am alarm. Having a fun alarm got me up and moving faster than normal, and I found myself at breakfast a little earlier than normal which was nice. At breakfast, I had scrambled eggs and a muffin with orange juice. This was just enough to get me through practice. I wanted to be nice and hungry for later because my van had plans for lunch. 

The novice women and I started our 8 am practice like any other one with a quick warm up to stretch out our bodies before hopping on the water. The weather was decent enough this morning once we got out and moving. It was kind of chilly, but at least it wasn’t raining which I was happy about. It wasn’t bad, especially because we were rowing most of practice and were able to keep warm. The drills we worked included cut the cake drills and pausing at 1/2 slide, ¾ slide, and at bodies over. Pausing at each of these parts of slide was very helpful, and I feel like it helped us novice women to better understand when in our slide to start to feather our blades and raise our hands into the finish as we got to full compression. Doing these drills while rowing also helped me to better apply these skills to continuous rowing, so I really liked drilling this way. 

After practice was over, my van loaded up and headed out to lunch in downtown Clemson. I got the yummiest bagel at Sully’s and also got an açai bowl at Cocobowlz. Sitting around outside with everyone eating and talking was fun, and it was a nice little moment in my day. Some vans also bought more Clemson apparel, and it was fun to see what cute shirts they’d bought. Once we all finished eating and talking, my van loaded up and went back to the hotel to rest up before our evening practice. 

Our last official practice of the trip started at 3:30pm. The main focus of the practice was to get some reps in for starts because we have a scrimmage against Clemson tomorrow morning. To practice the starts, we rowed only moving our knees and elbows for the first four strokes doing half slide, half slide, 3/4 slide, and then full slide. Once completing those strokes, we did various amounts of full power strokes. After that, we had a little bit of time to try a drill coach Adam had mentioned a few times in the fall. It was a standing drill where we buried our blades at the catch and then pressed our bodies up to stand. The purpose of it was to feel suspension, and I definitely felt it. One by one we went down the boat to try to stand, and I was actually pretty alright at it! Finally, at the end of practice, we made our way over to take a team photo. It was lots of fun and really cool to see all of our boats link up and create a mega-boat of sorts. It was the most fun practice of the week in my opinion, and it was great having a practice where we got so much done but also had lots of fun doing it. 

When the pictures were done with, we all packed up our stuff and were off to dinner. For dinner I had chicken, rice and french fries. I also had a small bowl of chocolate ice cream. Dinner went pretty fast, and before I knew it, we were getting in the vans to go back to the hotel. Once we get to the hotel, we’ll be doing a game of Kahoot about team trivia which I’m looking forward to. Afterwards, my roommates and I also plan to make a music video with video star. I’m sure it’ll turn out very dorky, but it’ll be so much fun and I’m excited for it!

Permanent link for GVSU Rowing Club � Spring Break Blogs 2022 - Day 6 � Thursday, March 10th on March 14, 2022

Kyle Emerson – Varsity Man

Today was Thursday, otherwise known as seat racing day for some of the varsity men and women. This morning was a well-needed extra hour of sleep because there was no practice in the morning. I still went down to get some breakfast from the lobby as they were still open, but there was no need to choke down the eggs as I usually find myself doing when we need to leave to get to the docks. Some of the men’s team, both novice and varsity, decided to go to Waffle House as well (you will never guess what I got from WAFFLE House either). My stomach was so full I could barely move, but if there is anything that this sport has taught me, it is that you push through the pain.

A group of rowers decided to go take a tour around the Clemson University campus. There, we saw the towering dorms and classroom buildings which expanded as far as the eye could see. It was crazy to think how people even got around that place to get to class. When we got closer to the Clemson football stadium, we went and found a large patch of grass where we could do various fun things. One of the novice men even brought a spike ball set for people to play. I played with freshman Micah Hammond and together we faced freshmen Bryce Drobnick and Daniel Zawodny in a game to 21 points. The grass was still wet from rain the previous day which led to a lot of my clothes becoming dirty from getting too intense while playing, but I had a blast nevertheless.

After the fun little excursion and making a “quick” trip to Bojangle’s for even MORE food, my roommate Anthony Vrooman and I made a quick turn around to get ready for practice. Seat racing consisted of four 4+ boats, two men’s and two women’s boats. The boats were staggered starting out and each race was 1k up and down the course. After each piece, the men’s and women’s boats each changed their lineups. This required both of the boats to meet together where people could get to their assigned seat. It was definitely awkward maneuvering around at first, but in some weird way it was like a puzzle. After it was all figured out, the boats lined up as per Dan’s instructions and the race commenced. The atmosphere of the practice was tense, as it was simply up to each person in the boat to earn their seat in the varsity 4+ this season, but I was happy that I was given the shot to prove my ability within the boat. This was the first of many seat races which we will do throughout the season to see who will make the boat the fastest when it comes time for Dadvail and ACRA in May. I cannot wait to see how the first season after not having a season last year will turn out!


Haley Clark – Varsity Woman

Hello from South Carolina! Today is Thursday, and so far, there are no bad days at Clemson. The weather hasn't been too chilly, and luckily there has only been one day of rain. Today the high is in the fifties and there is a nice cloud cover - perfect conditions for rowing. We only have one practice today, so it was nice to sleep in a little this morning and get ready for today's task: SEAT RACING. 

I have never seat raced before, but it was quite the experience. We rowed six 1000 meter pieces on Clemson's 2k course, switching boats after each piece. If there is one word I would use to describe what it is like to switch multiple people between two fours, I think I would use chaotic. The first switch was a bit of a hot mess, but by the last one we had all mastered the task of jumping between boats and shimmying up or down the gunnels to our next seat. My first seat race was not the best (I caught a giant crab that almost ejected me from the boat), but by the third piece I was getting my head in the game and the nerves were not as intense as they were when I started. Of the six pieces we did, my best piece was the second to last. I was in the Zelenka with Grace and Maddie G. in the stern, and Rebecca behind me in the bow (along with Steph coxing). It was just a beautiful boat. We kept the rate right where it needed to be, the set was balanced, and you couldn't feel anyone rushing the slide. We have been working on slide control a lot this week, so it is great to see that it is improving! It was just a really good boat, and the first time I have really felt like flying since last spring.

After seat racing, we went to the dining hall for dinner (delicious after a long afternoon of racing), and then we headed to Spill the Beans for ice cream. I thought Get the Scoop back at home was good, but this ice cream was on a level of its own... After that, we went back to the hotel to get cleaned up. A little bit later Stone and I got together to work on the activity for tomorrow night, team KAHOOT! Time to see what we know about the team, and how well we really know each other!

I have missed being in a boat with these girls more than I think I realized, and I have been waiting for this week since September. I almost didn't come back after missing the entire fall season due to an injury, but I am so glad I pushed through erging all winter to make it to the spring. We have all been putting in the work, and now we get to put it into action on the water. I can't wait to see what I can pull this season, and I can't wait to see what the Laker Navy can achieve together.


Daniel Zawodny – Novice Man

Today is Thursday, March 10. We have been in Clemson since Saturday morning, and boy have the days flown by. The novice men had seat-racing Wednesday morning, and I am content with how it went. We had the morning session off today, which means we are entering the last third of our training trip. With the morning off, I slept in and then eventually made my way to Waffle House with 14 other crew mates for a hearty breakfast. 

After breakfast, we walked back to the hotel, quickly changed, and then drove to the Clemson University campus. On campus, we strolled around for half an hour before joining up with another group of rowers out exploring campus. Together, we made our way to the Clemson football stadium and then found an empty grassy space where we set up Spikeball. Once we had relieved our energy, we ventured back to the vans. Before heading back to the hotel, we stopped by Bojangles for breakfast.

At afternoon practice, I was in a pair (2-) with Mateo, my childhood best friend who has rowed with me since freshman year of high school. The novice men took out two pairs and an eight. We warmed up, and then did some stationary drills, focusing on timing through the recovery and placing together. After timing drills, we rowed steady state for 15 minutes with a few bursts mixed in, and then made our way over to the buoyed 2k course.      

On our first lap down the course, we rowed at race pace for 500m, paddled for 500m, and then took the last 1k at race pace to complete the course. We then rowed back to the start line and waited for the course to clear for our second lap and last piece of the practice session. As the water became busier, so did the 2k course. We set off on our 1500m piece, but my boat (Nancy L Lubbers) was being concussed by the wake from the many launches now saturating the water. Mateo and I did our best to row clean at rate, but we had been thrown off our groove. However, we would soon find ourselves in an awkward situation. The 8+ was in lane 1, the second pair was in lane 2 and Mateo and I were in lane 3. The Clemson women had rowed down lanes 1-2 from the finish line down the course towards the start line. No traffic pattern had been established or communicated to all coaches, and so our 8 and other pair were rowing head on towards the incoming women’s crews. Both other crews had to stop in the middle of their pieces; however, I kept Mateo and I rowing since our lane was clear. We finished our 1500m piece and then docked. 

After practice, we got into our transit vans and made our way to Southern Wesleyan University for dinner. I had 3 plates of food and a bowl of ice cream while conversing with other rowers sitting at my table. After dinner concluded, we got into the vans to either make our way back to the hotel or to go get ice cream. My van voted to go back to the hotel since the dining hall had free ice cream and showers held a higher priority. 

I can’t believe it’s already Thursday night; this trip has been flying by. I am looking forward to building speed in the novice 8+ during tomorrow’s practice sessions before the 2k we have on Saturday against the other crews down here. 


Emily Fredericks – Novice Woman

There are no bad days in Clemson! I started the day at 8am, waking up way more tired than I should have been despite getting 2 more hours of sleep than normal. After sitting in bed for 30 minutes and waking my roommate up (sorry Lyssa), I ran downstairs in my pajamas to snag breakfast. I know I should have eaten healthier, but the frootloops were calling my name and I couldn’t resist. After breakfast, I hopped in a van, and we visited the rock museum and botanical gardens. At the museum, we spent a lot of time in the gift shop looking at crystals. Syd, our personal crystal connoisseur, taught a small group of us how to tell if you need a crystal spiritually. We gradually dispersed around the museum, looking at the dark room of fluorescent rocks, dinosaur bones, and crystals. At the botanical garden we all got into small groups and wandered the grounds. My group ended up following and feeding a small flock of ducks. After feeding the ducks, we decided we were also hungry and went back for lunch at Tropical Grille. 

Practice was really productive today for the novice women. We practiced rowing by 8 for one of the first times in months, learning to set the boat at different rates. While we had a couple of really good strokes, we mostly leaned towards port. Setting the boat is definitely something to work on, but it is great to see the improvements that we have already made. 

After eating dinner at SWU, most of the team piled into vans to go to Spill the Beans, the best ice cream place near Clemson. Because the line was out the door, we played song association as we waited to order. This time, I asked the employee what her favorite flavor combination was and ordered that. I ended up with a banana creme base with peanut butter, which was amazing. We all relaxed in the parlor before heading back to the hotel. A couple of my teammates and I reviewed some videos of us rowing with Coach Adam so that we can improve later this week before heading back to our room to stretch out and do some yoga poses. All in all, it was a fun day of running around Clemson, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the week goes. 



Permanent link for GVSU Rowing Club � Spring Break Blogs 2022 - Day 5 � Wednesday, March 9th on March 14, 2022

Eddie Pfannes – Varsity Man

This Wednesday, we continued our adventure in Clemson! The morning started a little unusually with flashes of lightning bolts and the booms of thunder. The rain had been present before, but the storm had intensified in the night. The team met in the lobby for breakfast as the rain continued to fall. The team worried what might happen with the storm as we prepared for practice, and we were given our answer with Coach Dan’s call to delay practice by 30 minutes.

By the time we arrived at practice, the sky had begun to lighten up and the rain had lessened in intensity. The team was split into their respective squads, and the varsity men ended up working with Coach Troy for the morning. In the full men’s 8+, we practiced a few drills before jumping into a Cat 5 workout (relatively low intensity with some bursts). We had fun, and our temporary coxswain, John, did an amazing job.

After practice, a few rowers went to Moe’s. The food was brilliant and the conversation among teammates was engaging. The burrito was exceptionally delicious to me.

The second practice of the day rang in the sun, and with it, more good times. The lineups from the morning were shuffled into an 8+ and a 4+, and the workouts featured exploration with our meters. I came off the water smiling.

As of writing this, a group of guys are planning on seeing “The Batman” in theaters, with me as their driver. Since there is no morning practice tomorrow, we should be able to enjoy a little bit later of a night out. When we get back, I look forward to crashing into the bed in my room and getting some well-deserved rest.


Stephanie Bruck – Varsity Women’s Coxswain

Hello, my name is Stephanie & I am a senior women’s coxswain! I have been super excited to get back on the water from winter training, so being in Clemson has been pretty great! Unfortunately, we woke up early Wednesday morning to the sound of rain, thunder & lightning. After getting ready in the morning & having breakfast, practice was pushed back a half hour due to the lightning. 8am rolled around & it was still raining, but there was no more lightning so we headed to the boathouse. Clemson Rowing has been graciously letting us use their boathouse to store our boats & launch off their docks. 

For the first practice, the women split into two 8’s. We went out into the rain & started with some drills. The main focus of the day was slide control. We traveled up to the city 2k course & worked on continuous rowing while controlling the slide. The rowers got in some good CAT 5 work & then we headed back to the docks. It was a wet row, but definitely productive. 

Between practices, a group of women traveled to downtown Clemson to get some pizza & went shopping! It was a great time to converse with some of the other women on the team & explore the town.

The second practice was dry, thankfully! We hopped back in the same line-ups as the morning practice to have the same focus of slide control. We did more steady state with bursts of 10 strokes between 22-26 spm. The main focus was slowing the slide & catching quickly!

We finished out the day by heading to the Southern Wesleyan Dining Hall to eat dinner! They had some great food to fuel up on! It’s been a great week so far, and we only have 4 more practices till we head back to snowy Michigan to continue our spring training.


Parker Reynolds – Novice Man

My name is Parker Reynolds, and I’m a junior here at GVSU. I’m a first year rower. More accurately, I’m a brand new rower that’s not even a month into rowing yet! I’m really enjoying it so far, and this spring break trip and getting onto the water for the first time has been great.

Today, the novice men did seat racing in the morning and a practice focusing on starts in the afternoon. I was a coxswain for both. Coxing can be pretty stressful at times, but I’ve been enjoying learning this new role. Coach Kyle was pleased with our practice yesterday, so he bought us pizza for lunch today after we were done racing. Then, we finished out the day by going to watch the new Batman movie. It was a very full day but a really fun one.


Bryanna Ergang – Novice Woman

Today is our fifth day in Clemson! I started my day at 6:30am, got up to get ready, then headed down for breakfast. Practice was delayed thirty minutes because of heavy rain and storms in the area. Eventually, we headed out to row at 8am. The novice women started off the morning with a cold and rainy row in the Jedlics. We spent a lot of time doing steady state to stay warm and a few technical drills like back it down, 0-100, and the pause at 3/4 slide throughout this first practice.  

After the first practice, my van went into downtown Clemson for lunch and got Chipotle and coffee at the Grace Coffee Company. I got a burrito bowl from Chipotle, and since I don’t drink coffee, I got an iced chai tea latte with their cinnamon bun flavoring (highly recommend!). 

After a fun afternoon, we drove back to the hotel and got to change into some dry clothes! My hotel roommates and I all layed on the floor and relaxed for a few hours before heading out to our second practice of the day. 

The second practice of the day was about a whole 10° warmer!! The novice women headed out in the Jedlics for the second time today and mostly did drills focusing on backing in the blade and power application. 

With the second practice over, we were all super hungry when it came to dinner. There was pasta, burgers, and pizza to choose from. I chose pasta along with some potatoes! Nothing super special, but it definitely filled me up. After dinner, we got in our vans and started driving back to the hotel. 

In my van we always say our “happies” for the day after dinner. My “happy” was that the PM practice had much better weather than this morning and we got a lot of good work in. Once we arrived back at the hotel, some of us gathered in the lobby to sit in on the open E-Board meeting. The meeting just went through regular rowing and team maintenance that needed to be addressed, and it was over in about twenty minutes. Now I am back in my room and am headed to bed! Always remember, there are no bad days in Clemson!



Permanent link for GVSU Rowing Club � Spring Break Blogs 2022 - Day 4 � Tuesday, March 8th on March 9, 2022

Jackson Groessl – Varsity Man

Today was our 3rd full day in Clemson. During our morning practice, Coach Dan took out two women’s 4s and one men’s 4 for seat racing. But, because the men only had one 4 racing, we stood in as a comparison boat. The rain held off for the morning, and it was fun being able to do some quick and fast racing.

For lunch, we took a couple vans to Moe’s to grab some food. This is always a good time to socialize with teammates that we don’t usually get to see. Once we got back to the hotel, we laid low and rested up before heading down to the lobby to play some card games. 

In the afternoon, we got to take out pairs and work on our technique. Unfortunately, the rain caught up to us, and it made conditions less than ideal. We took our small boats to a cove where it was relatively flat and protected, which offered us better conditions. We kept practice pretty short after the hard practice in the morning. To end the night, we went to Southern Wesleyan University for dinner, and I was happy to finish my meal off with several slices of dessert pizza!


Kaiya Quinlan – Varsity Woman

Today was another great day in Clemson. It started with my numerous alarms waking me up for breakfast, because one is never enough at 6:30 in the morning. I enjoyed some eggs, a yogurt, and part of a bagel I split with my buddy Margaret. Once breakfast was over, everyone headed to our first training session starting around 8am. This morning, the varsity split up a bit as some people competed in seat races (2 women’s 4’s, and 1 men’s 4) while the rest of varsity rowed a long steady state in two 8’s with technical drills included. We specifically emphasized the pivot coming out of the finish and slowing down the recovery coming up to the catch. Now that may seem like the entire stroke, but improvements were made on all fronts which is the end goal. The Vader-style steady state (thanks Emmy for the nickname) was a great way to implement corrections with repetition. We concluded practice at 11am, and I headed to lunch with the rest of my van at “Cocoa Acai”!

It seemed lunch hit the spot more than any other meal I’ve had this week because the long morning row took every macronutrient out of my system. Afterwards, we strolled around the shops and other businesses for a little while, accumulating cute Clemson merch before we headed back to the hotel to finish recharging before the pm practice. 

Right as we all left for the pm practice, we were delighted by a weather advisory and a tremendous amount of rain. Some may argue that rowing is a water sport, which is very much so correct; however, the ideal situation is to stay out of the water and relatively dry. The oar becomes increasingly difficult to grip, and rowing conditions suffer right along with it. Anyways, the show must go on, and Coach Troy put me in three seat (which is actually the closest to the bow I’ve ever been) which was an interesting and new perspective that I enjoyed quite a bit. Being able to row and see the majority of the boat in front of me was an added bonus. Practice was quite a bit shorter than the morning, and essentially a continuation of drills and steady state with the same focus as this morning. Following practice, everyone scrambled to their vans to change into relatively dry clothing and head to our delicious dinner buffet, where we got to refuel and bond with fellow teammates. To finish off a spectacular day, many of us went to the highly talked about ice cream shop “Spill the Beans” where I enjoyed a giant ice cream cone and laughter with my teammates, or in my case “uncontrollable honking,” a term coined by some of my teammates. All in all, a very eventful and fun day here in South Carolina. No bad days in Clemson ammi right?!?


Brendan Butterfield – Novice Men’s Coxswain

Hello everyone, it’s been 4 days since leaving Allendale, and we have already accomplished so much. Spring break has given us the opportunity to do our “spring cleaning” when it comes to our strokes, transforming all we learned on the erg to what matters on the water. 

This morning I was the coxswain of the Lubbers, which is one of our Hudson eights. We had a bit of an interesting start to our day as we used a number of different oars; that’s what we had on hand as some oars were still back home in Michigan while others were being used for seat racing. After the confusion regarding what oars to take, we launched from the dock rowing with 7 members in our boat; there was no four seat as we did not have another rower to fill the boat. We took out two novice boats with a few members of varsity joining us. In the Lubbers we were joined by Sam and Simon and made great progress over the day as we took it back to basics, working on things like the catch and the drive. Overall, the boat started off a bit rough while doing drill work since we were rowing with one open seat; but once we started yamming on the blades during leap-frog with the other eight, we were able to overcome this by using the pressure we built by making the boat move forward and using that momentum and the water flowing past our skeg to set up the boat. We were also able to get used to the fact that we were sitting up higher in the boat since we were missing a person after getting our handle heights down together. While the morning practice was not ideal circumstances, we were able to make good progress on our strokes individually and as a whole including our honorary novice men, Sam and Simon. 

After AM practice, we headed back to the hotel where some of the guys and I walked over to Waffle House and had a nice meal prepared with some of that southern Waffle House hospitality. Kyle is one of the guys who I’m rooming with and went to the restaurant with; he was also in my van on the way down, so he was well aware that going to a Waffle House was on my to do list since I had made a joke of it on the way down as I mentioned it so many times. We ended up having a great meal that we didn’t know we needed after practice and got a good picture to go with it. After the Waffle House, we headed back and relaxed before heading out for PM practice. 

By the time PM practice rolled around, it was raining; sadly, this was something we had been expecting, although we were prepared as it’s a water sport anyway. We were rowing the same lineups we were in the morning, and I was still coxing the 7 in the Lubbers. It took us a moment to get back into it, but by the time we did rate ladders, we had improved by a great margin.  We still need to work on a few things like handle heights and set, but that’s something that we will work our way back into after winter conditioning. Everyone had a good time in the rain, and it was not nearly as bad as we expected it to be. Although wet, we again made good progress and bonded as we continued to get soaked. This practice wasn’t too long, so it was overall really fun; we made good improvements for tomorrow as we will be seat racing and have much to show.


Gabby Smith – Novice Woman

Day four here at Clemson! I started my day at 6:45am when my alarm went off for practice. I was getting ready for the day and had to change a few times due to the changing weather forecast. I headed down to breakfast and had a bagel with apple jelly, then we headed to the first practice of the day at about 7:30am.

In practice this morning, we spent a lot of time doing square and feather drills. We did this for a bit and then rowed by half boats back to the dock. Us novice women got out of morning practice a little earlier than the rest of the team, so we decided to have our coach take us to Mr. Knickerbocker, the Clemson apparel store. We all got something small whether it be a shirt, socks, stickers, or a gnome for the dash in the van. It was a fun outing for the novice women.

We came back to the hotel and some of us went out for lunch, but I stayed in and had a small lunch and some snacks. After that, I fell asleep for a little bit. I got up at 1:45pm to go downstairs to leave for second practice. Novice women did seat races, but I sat in the launch. It started to downpour and things were just not going well, but we continued to row through it. We left second practice soaked, so Coach Adam brought us to the hotel to change before heading to dinner. 

We were fairly late to dinner compared to the rest of the team, but still had plenty to eat and all had time to chat about our days. The day ended with some of the team going to get ice cream; however, I came back to the hotel to write this and get some homework done. It was a decent day here in Clemson!



Permanent link for GVSU Rowing Club � Spring Break Blogs 2022 - Day 3 � Monday, March 7th on March 8, 2022

Carlos Fabbro – Varsity Men’s Coxswain

I spent my Monday in Clemson.

We rowed around, and then some.

We started the day with some Cat4 pieces.

And we covered the water that was for leases.

We made adjustments to our row.

Synchronized catches, straight backs, 

For smoother flow.


After we rowed, we headed to Bojangles.

Just to figure out how 

That Southern chicken thing goes.


There I ordered

A spicy chicken sandwich,

And then hopped in the Battle Bus

Which is really a man-wich


But that wasn’t even the highlight of my day

Because that novice man,

Jacob Galloway

Stole my camera and didn't bother to pay


Once we got back, I ate a quick bite

And we headed out

For the trip hike.


Once we reached Yellow Branch Falls

I was stupefied by what I saw

The water was freezing and the rocks were slippery

I don’t even row, but my legs are in misery.


Overall, I’m aiming for eight hours of sleep

Otherwise, “my health!” 

I’ll weep.


Today has been a blast and a half

Sorry if you thought this was a rap.


Veronica Matthews – Varsity Woman

I woke up around 6:40am to get ready to leave by 7:30am for practice. On the way to practice, my van bumped some “piece music jams'' to get us prepared for our row. As we walked to our trailer, Clemson’s varsity team was erging outside and we were all trying to figure out what piece they were doing - it looked like a 2k because they were cruising! We did find it funny that “erg music” is quite universal as we all listen to the same stuff.

Today's practice started around 8am, and I sat bow seat of the Alexandra! We started the practice off with some drills, sitting at ¾ slide, and worked on the catch. Then we started feathered at half slide then squared and placed the blade. This allowed us to watch our oar placement timings to make sure we were all placing together smoothly and driving at the same time. We also did some top quarter rowing which led into full strokes. After we finished with drills, we did 3x12’ pieces. For the first one, our rates were 6’ @ 22, 4’ @ 24, and 2’ @ 26. The 2nd and 3rd pieces were 6’ @ 24, 4’ @ 26, and 2’ @ 28. This was our first time this week rowing all 8 as we have been working on technique and in small boats; I was pleasantly surprised with how well our boat did. The set was pretty alright and when we noticed there were problems, we fixed them for the next piece. After practice we ate lunch at the trailer and headed back to the hotel.

 We were still hungry once returning “home” so I drove a few of the other girls to get more to eat and some coffee! I tried the new toasted vanilla oat milk shaken espresso from Starbucks, and it may be my new favorite drink! After that, we talked in the lobby and waited for the rest of the team to go hiking! Today was one of our “free” days, meaning we don’t have an afternoon practice and can use the day to explore. We hiked Yellow Branch Falls which has a beautiful waterfall at the end! You will definitely see pictures on Instagram. The drive to and from the hike was quite curvy and a pretty view in itself!

As we all gathered in the lobby to go to dinner at Southern Wesleyan University, it started POURING outside! I graciously pulled the car up for everyone so they didn’t have to get wet. For dinner I got a large salad with carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes. For my main dish I got fish, rice, pasta, and grilled mixed veggies. 

As we left and headed to “Rita’s” for ice cream, we noticed it closed in 30 minutes; as we parked and went inside we read “drive through only” on the window and knew it wasn’t appropriate for 30 people to go through the drive through. We all left quite upset, but that means we are even more excited to go to the best ice cream place tomorrow (I will let someone else tell you about that!) Now I am sitting in my hotel bed, while my bedmate, Isabel gets her haircut by fellow teammate, Beka, in our bathroom! It has been a very action packed day, and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store! 


Micah Hammond – Novice Man

This is our third day in Clemson and practices have begun to pick up in intensity. After a brief morning discussion and demonstration on catch timings, we were on the water. Thankfully, the sun was behind the clouds for nearly the duration of practice and with the help of a slight breeze throughout, it was the perfect conditions for rowing. The novice men took out three fours today, and I had the joy of being stroke seat of one, followed by Daniel Zawodny, Joe Vitick, and Josh Scotto. We started with a short warmup and some drill work focusing on getting the blade into the water before applying pressure and trying to lift yourself off the seat immediately after the catch; then we finally got to row by all four people together. Given that this was our first real time since fall season rowing all together with nobody to set the boat, I was understandably nervous, as I had a history of flipping boats in high school. Thankfully we were able to avoid flipping the boat, and other than some minor timing problems and handle height issues, the boat was fairly set and felt smooth. We rowed past the Clemson 2k course and nearly 5 km down toward Georgia. After turning around and briefly watching the varsity pass on their way back to the dock, we began 16-minute rate pyramids, starting at 18 spm, peaking at 22 and bringing it back down to 18. During the first of these drills, my boat was passed, not for lack of trying, by the Klein with Mateo, Bryce, Eliot, and Jacob (the only true Jacob on the team if you ask any of the novice men), so heading into the next rate pyramid we were determined to stay ahead. We held a consistent lead for the majority of the pyramid with neither our boat pulling away nor their boat getting closer, up until the final 2 minutes of the piece when our path narrowed and they had to give way to more boats on the lake and fall behind. Thankfully, as my blisters were peeling and I had run out of water long ago, that was our final piece of the day and we were told to head back to the dock, and not a moment too soon because the water that was completely flat earlier was now whipped up into small whitecaps from the wind. Overall, another good practice with some obvious room for improvement. 

Instead of stretching and writing this blog post after practice like someone that plans ahead, I joined some of my team to get lunch at subway followed by a hike to a gorgeous waterfall. The van that I was in, stuffed with just about 15 people, got to the trail considerably earlier than most of the other vans and decided that we would start the hike and meet the other groups at the waterfall. It wasn’t a far hike by any means, a short 1.5 miles or so, but the roots were excessive; I nearly tripped or broke an ankle almost a million times. Only about 20 or so minutes later, we reached the waterfall which completely blew me away. I had been expecting something considerably smaller and more touristy, with some walkway or wood path like I have seen in Michigan. Instead, I was met with a huge waterfall that the path just ends at. The rocks were kind of a pain as they were completely covered by a slimy green alga, and it’s a miracle that I didn’t fall and break anything, despite some very close calls. There were several tiers to the falls and, given a fair amount of effort and a small amount of luck, you could climb up and stand underneath the falling water. After my group got to the falls, it was only about 20 minutes for the rest of the groups to catch up; the entire team enjoyed taking pictures, swimming in the small pools, climbing the falls, trying to find salamanders, and all assortments of other fun activities. But after what felt like no time at all, the rain was closing in and we had to hike back; it felt much farther as all my clothes were now completely soaked and we were trying to hurry to beat the rain.

After a brief shower and change of clothes, the novice men gathered with our coach, Coach Kyle, to discuss individual rowing technique on what we could each improve in our stroke. What was super helpful was that Coach Kyle had taken videos of each of us throughout the row from previous days and compiled it in a folder, so we were able to watch ourselves row and see what we were doing wrong. For me personally, my two main problems are rushing the final bit of the recovery (being in stroke seat certainly didn’t help), and I don’t finish placing my blade until I'm nearly finished with my legs portion of the stroke; I should be able to fix both of these in the following days and move on to any other problems that I have. By the time we were done meeting, the rain had increased from a slight drizzle to a complete downpour - you couldn’t see across the parking lot. So, since it was our time to head to dinner, provided by Southern Wesleyan University's dining hall, our van drivers took one for the team and booked it to the vans and drove to the hotel doors so the majority of us wouldn’t get soaked. The dinner was phenomenal - a buffet style offering of rice, chicken, pizza, hamburgers, and of course an ice-cream corner that I definitely made use of. I was lucky enough for Coach Troy himself to sit next to me, and I made it a point that every time he went to get more food, I would as well, which is no easy feat. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep up and had to clock out at about plate number six, with some ice cream mixed in there too. Following dinner, we all came back to the hotel and I quarantined myself to my corner of the room to get this blog post done. Honestly a great day, and I'm looking forward to the seat racing coming up tomorrow.


Maddie Kelly – Novice Woman

Day three! Our morning began with the team swarming the hotel lobby for breakfast, then we were off to practice. It was a beautiful day for pieces, a comfortable 75° and partly sunny. Today the Novice Women’s team had a set of pieces for morning practice – I believe our very first on the water ever! We rowed by sixes on the square, focusing primarily on technical performance; it felt wonderful to finally apply all that we’ve learned from winter training to the water. They were eight minutes in length with rates varying between 22 and 28 spm. We finished practice with a sprint to the bridges! 

Being the first off of the water, we took quite a few group photos before the other crews got to the trailer – a perfect time to whip out my Polaroid camera. We had a light lunch before heading back to the hotel to get ready for our hike. An hour later, we crammed the vans to drive to Sumter National Forest. The weather worked in our favor! No thunderstorms! It was a beautiful 45-minute hike to reach the precipice: the Yellow Branch Falls. To quote Freddie, it “turned into a photoshoot,” with nearly every rower trying not to slip on the wet rocks. Put simply, it was so much fun! 

We all hiked back, returned to the hotel, and traveled to Southern Wesleyan University to eat dinner. We exchanged laughs, told stories, ragged on each other, and overall had a fantastic day. I can’t wait for the rest of the week!



Permanent link for GVSU Rowing Club � Spring Break Blogs 2022 - Day 2 � Sunday, March 6th on March 7, 2022

Sam Sommerdyke – Varsity Man

Today is our second day out at Clemson. We checked into the hotel last night, and I immediately fell asleep. Having a bed has never been more appreciated. I woke up a little groggy, but that’s just because I slept for so long. I began the day with breakfast at the hotel at 7am, and practice started at 8:20am or so. I was surprised by the quality of the food for a hotel. Before we got on the water, coach Dan emphasized proper form when working through our sequence. My boat was a little funky this morning because we had two coxswains rowing with us to fill out the boat! I was in a four with Carlos and Josie switching between coxing and rowing halfway through. We had drill work for the first half of the practice. We worked on pausing at mid thigh, when our hips aligned with our shoulders, half slide and finally built up to full slide. For the second half of practice, Carlos switched to rowing, and we rowed Clemson’s alternate 2k course. I thought that the course was pretty cool, and I had never seen a real 2k course until today because this is my first official spring season. It reminded me of what I have seen in the Olympics. Coach Dan gave me some advice on my finish and recovery speed when we were on the course, and then we brought it back to the dock. After lunch, I relaxed in my room and played some video games. 

Our second practice was much shorter, starting around 4pm and finishing at 5:30pm. It was ridiculously warm for this practice - 76 degrees and very sunny, so everyone was spraying sunscreen on each other while coach Dan went over our practice plan and lineups. I let one of my teammates, Anthony, borrow my sunglasses because he forgot his, and in exchange he sprayed my back! I was 3 seat in a boat of 7, and we rowed the other Clemson course that had a view of the football stadium. We got waked big-time by a surf boat, but I didn’t mind at all because it was so hot. Being with coach Dan both practices was very helpful because he gave a lot of pointers on my form in real time. He also told me to rearrange my spacers to make it easier to tap down, so I’ll be fixing that tomorrow. Dinner was really good - pasta and burgers! I’m glad I didn’t take a nap in between practices so I can go to bed on time tonight. I'm tired, but a good kind of tired.


Jo Patterson – Varsity Woman

Today I woke up at 7:00am after a great night of sleep! For hotel breakfast, I had scrambled eggs, sausage, strawberries, and cinnamon bread. The cinnamon bread was absolutely wonderful, so I stashed some in my practice bag for later. The strawberries were also huge, and I had to finish them in the van as we drove to the first practice of the day. After getting badly sunburnt yesterday, I lathered myself in aloe and sunscreen before the row. Luckily it was also a little chilly so I was able to keep covered with a long sleeve too. The varsity women kept the same lineups as yesterday - I sat 4 seat in the Schintzel. The focus today was on the recovery of our stroke. With coach Troy, we spent the first half of practice doing reverse pick drills. Afterwards, we had time for some steady state by sixes down the 2k course. Beka, my pair partner, and I spent a good amount of time marveling at how straight the buoys were and the fact that they weren’t sun bleached at all. Once off the water at 10:30am, we put everything away, grabbed some sandwiches from the trailer, and headed back to the hotel.

I made the decision to stay in my practice clothes for the rest of the day as we hurried out the door to lunch, stuffing my leftover cinnamon bread into my mouth while walking down to the van that was heading to Which Wich. However, on our way to Which Wich, we were stopped at a red light and spied Tropical Grill (your health alternative) and made the executive decision to eat there instead. I ordered a salmon bowl and had the best pita bread of my life. It was truly amazing. With a Dunkin across the parking lot, a couple of us could not resist the temptation of iced coffee. I had some leftovers from lunch that I happily took back to my hotel room and am about to enjoy right after I finish writing this.

With 3 hours until our next practice, I decided to read my book and photosynthesize by the window as my roommates napped. I only got a couple chapters in before I fell asleep on the floor. For practice pt. 2, I only had to grab my bag and head downstairs, once again shoving food into my mouth as I left - this time a PB&J. The varsity women were with coach Troy again, but this time in small boats. We took out six pairs and two fours. Sitting bow in one of the fours, I had my lovely roommate, Reilly, as my pair partner. It was a little wavy, but we went over to a secluded little part of the lake, sheltered from the wind. There, we went in continuous circles with waggle drills to work on our individual technical issues. We got to add in the feather too! I have trouble with dropping my outside shoulder at the catch, so I focused all of my attention on that. We were only on the water for about an hour before it was time to head back in for dinner.

 At the dining hall, I piled spaghetti, meatballs, and broccoli onto my plate. I got a couple comments about my excessive number of meatballs, but I did eat them all. After my plate was clean, I helped myself to a bowl of fruit and ice cream. For ice cream, I scooped cookies-and-cream ice cream into a bowl, put a healthy amount of chocolate chips on top, and added a cone as well. It’s delicious! Back in the van, we discussed and laughed about the “DID SOMEONE SAY EGGNOG ?!?” sign posted in the breakfast nook of the hotel. I still have no idea why it is there and what it means. If anyone has any clue, please let me know. Right after getting out of the vans, we had our meeting in the lobby to discuss expectations for the spring season and got the spring break guides. Everyone had a good laugh while reading them before heading up to our rooms. I chatted with my roommates for a while and now am heading to shower and go to bed. Goodnight everyone, I hope your first full day in Clemson was as good as mine!

Sebastian Daughty – Novice Man

Hey everyone! To briefly introduce myself I am Sebastian, or Seabass/Sebas/Seabas, and I did row in high school but only for the spring season; now that that’s out the way, let's get into the stuff you came here to read. The morning practice session was actually really necessary because I still felt rusty from not being on the water; the single pause, double pause, and half feather drills really helped with knocking that rust off a little more. Today I was 4 seat in the 8 which is about where I’m used to sitting; I particularly enjoy 4 seat because as we rotate pairs, I end up setting the stroke rate. It gives me time to fix what I feel is wrong and really focus on my form by slowing the rate down a half-beat or so. We went up and down the 2k course 3 or 4 times. Each time we went down the lane, we would implement the drill work; on the way back to the start, we would steady state row. By the end of morning practice, I was ready to just take a load off and relax back at the hotel. 


However, rather than taking a load off at the hotel, I decided to go shopping at Walmart with a van full of other guys. The day prior, I had a total of 7 blisters on my right hand, and I knew I couldn't just leech off of one of the other guys’ athletic tape and bandaids. After spending what felt like a fortune at Walmart (really starting that whole “broke college student” saying) we went to one of South Carolina’s fast-food restaurants, Zaxby’s. This was my first time having Zaxby’s and honestly, I wasn’t disappointed – but to be fair, who can mess up a signature chicken sandwich and fries. Also, on a side note, I probably hit my head on the lamp above our table at least 3 times; for those of you who don’t know, I am within the range of 6’3”-6’6” (I stopped paying attention two years ago when the doctor said I was 6’3”.) When we got back to the hotel, I decided to be a little productive and get some homework done. When I finished, I played this mafia-like card game with a handful of other rowers that was actually pretty fun! Granted, I did only play one round, but each game takes one night and rounds typically last about 10 minutes, give or take a few. Afterwards, I got ready to head to afternoon practice. 


For afternoon practice, we were focused on the feather and the path the blade takes as you feather. Coach Kyle had told us after morning practice that we had to study a diagram about the path of the blade as you feather and square; we had to be able to explain this diagram because coach was going to draw one of our names from a hat and that person had to explain to everyone else what the diagram was showing us. Luckily, even though I was fully prepared, my name was not drawn, and instead our coxswain Brendan had to explain it. Once that short presentation was over, we were ready to get on the water and actually practice what we were just taught. Once again, I was 4 seat in the 8. While my feathering didn’t improve how I had hoped it would, it did put the idea in my head of how feathering should look; I knew that if I kept thinking about it, I would soon be able to feather like a varsity rower. Towards the end of practice as we were on our way back to the docks, coach Kyle let us row by 8 which went about how you’d expect. But that’s what practice is all about, and by the end of this trip I guarantee we’ll be back in the swing of things.


Sydney McNeill – Novice Woman

This morning was our first wake-up in Clemson! It was a perfect temperature out, making it a great morning to get out on the water and get some work done. The novice women took out an 8+ and worked a lot on lengthening our stroke. From the coxswain seat, I led some bob drills at the catch to work on this and with each bob, the girls reached further and further. After we finished drills, we moved on to practicing just rowing in the lanes on the 2k course. This was my first time steering on a 2k course, and I was a bit nervous at first because being surrounded by buoys is a little intimidating. However, I survived and was able to go through the course without hitting any of the buoys! The girls did great on the course too, took instruction well, and really focused on lengthening and reaching at the catch. We have been rowing on the square for the first few practices so at one point during our morning practice, we went to the feather just to see where we were at. We still need to work on balance and tapping down at the same time along with having control up to the catch, but I have no doubt that these girls can do it. 

After practice, we had some downtime. I used this time to chill and decompress a bit. I still am trying to recover from not getting a good night's sleep during the trip down, so I really enjoyed just laying around and doing nothing. I even took some time to go out and lay in the sun! 

For our second practice of the day, it was beautiful out. The sun was shining, and we had a nice breeze. The novice women's team was able to put in more miles out on the water this practice. We kept our focus on lengthening our strokes and our catches. It was a nice night to be out on the water and just row. After practice we got dinner, then came back to the hotel for our spring break meeting where we got our spring break guides which were super fun to read! Overall, it was a great day here in Clemson.


Permanent link for GVSU Rowing Club � Spring Break Blogs 2022 - Day 1 � Saturday, March 5th on March 6, 2022


Jacob Stone – Varsity Man

            Today was our first day in Clemson! What started off as the final stretch of a car ride that took way too long turned out to be an exciting time getting back out on the water. After we finished rigging all of the big boats in our armada, our intelligent coxswains whipped up some like-powered lineups that we would row in for the day. I was placed in the men’s varsity eight which unfortunately had only seven people due to numbers, but we were able to power out some strokes that kept us in line with the other crews and still make the best of an otherwise unset boat. It was really good to be back in the boat and get a feel for rowing on the water again. We focused a lot on the posture at the finish and pivoting through our hips instead of our backs. Coach Troy did an awesome job of helping point out some of our weak points to help us shape up. The row was quite long, but we got to take in all of the landscape surrounding the river and even got to see a helicopter hovering above the water towards the end of the row. 

After the row was done, we secured our boats and finally got to check into the hotel and shower. The shower felt so good after driving all night and practicing. We then got to head to one of our favorite places near Clemson, the dining hall! We headed to a small college nearby to use their dining hall which was worth the 20 min drive. Being able to eat all that we could handle was a good way to end out the night! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us this week!


McKenzie Sandel – Varsity Woman

My day began bright and early at 12 am when I received the duty of caravan caboose for our drive down to Clemson, South Carolina. Contrary to most preferences, I love driving the “graveyard shift” because there aren’t many people on the roads and everyone in the vehicle is asleep, so I get to listen to music and bond with my shotgun. My rowing daughter, Sydney, was my shotgun for today's driving shift. We had fun talking about our future dreams, hobbies, and our excitement for this trip. Soon after my shift ended, I was able to switch off driving and take a quick nap before our breakfast stop at Panera.

After breakfast, we made it to the Clemson boathouse, where we unloaded the trailer, grabbed a quick snack, and headed to the water for a 3 hour Darth Vader Row. During this row, we focused on “knocking off the rust” or in other words, readjusting to being able to row on the water again. The Varsity Women went out in two 8+’s, and a 4-. I stroked the straight four with Hannah, Anna, and Isabel behind me. We had a ton of fun working on drills and trying to beat the 8+s. 

After practice, we headed back to the hotel to shower and get ready for dinner. Our team was invited to Southern Wesleyan University's all-you-can-eat dining hall. We enjoyed a salad, shrimp fried rice, grilled chicken, and ice cream! After a very long and exhausting day, the team headed back to our hotel to get ready for bed and prepare for another beautiful Clemson practice starting Sunday morning at 8 am!


Eliot Van Pelt – Novice Man

Blistered hands, sunburnt shoulders, and sore muscles are all rewards of a great practice session on the water. Today, blistered hands, sunburnt shoulders, and sore muscles were all awarded to me and my fellow novice men, for today was our first practice day of spring break. Despite how undesirable these effects of rowing may seem to an outsider, my teammates and I have patiently been waiting since fall to get back on the water. 

If someone were to ask the team when the day started, we would all say our day didn’t start this morning but last night at 7pm when we departed for our 16 hour drive. We carefully drove in a file of vans through the night down to our destination in Clemson, South Carolina. We got here at roughly 11 am and began the long process of unloading the trailer, rigging boats, and setting up our respective area. Once everything was done, all of us eagerly waited to get back on the water. 

Our head coach, Dan Martin, gave us words of encouragement, expressed his excitement for training to start, and we got into our respective boats to begin practice. I was assigned the stroke seat in the Zelenka by my novice coach, Kyle Barnhart. Behind me was Daniel Zawodny, a freshman from Forest Hills Northern with 4 years of rowing experience under his belt. In two seat was a brand new novice, Sebastian Daughty. Bryce Drobnick, a prior 4 year rower from Saline high school, was in the bow seat. Initially, we were a straight 4, but coach Kyle put our newest novice, Parker Reynolds, into the coxswain’s seat to get him some solid experience. Parker did a great job for his first time coxing and kept a good point the entire time. 

During practice, my boat and I got our first taste of the infamous “Darth Vader row”. We rowed by pairs, switching a person about every 20 strokes. This first practice was a reminder to me of just how much growth I have to go through and how much there is for me to learn about rowing in general. I was constantly being out-pulled by both Daniel and Bryce whenever I was rowing with either of them, despite my continuous effort to press harder and have a quicker catch. Fortunately, Daniel is both a great teacher and phenomenal rower, and he offered me a variety of tips and encouragement to lift my spirits throughout the entire practice. On a more positive note, my favorite part of practice was holding off the other novice 8 boat the majority of the time, even though they were rowing with six people at one point. We practiced for roughly 3 hours, and afterwards, I helped secure and strap all of our boats for the night. Tired from the long drive, exhausted from the heat of the sun, and sore from the first practice on the water, we left to grab our hotel rooms. Once there, we showered, set our stuff down, and got ready for dinner. 

At dinner, I sat with my fellow novice teammates. We shared a lot of fun stories, laughed a lot, and got to know each other better. Out of everyone on the team, I’m convinced our table ate the most food. After dinner, our van stopped at a local Walgreens where we were able to grab aloe vera for our sunburns. Tomorrow will be day 2 on spring break and will start with an early wake up for me at 6 am to finish some extra homework and get a head start on material for some of my classes!


Anna Cleveland – Novice Woman

We drove through the night and arrived at a Panera for breakfast around eight this morning. We had a yummy breakfast and then drove the last hour to Clemson. It was cool to see Clemson University as we drove to the boathouse! When we arrived, the sky was a little overcast and the temperature was a little cooler than we were all expecting. We then began rigging the boats and headed out to the water around 12:30. We were anxious to get out on the water and see if we even remembered how to row or set the boat, and to our surprise, we did!

The first part of our practice back on the water was to warm up and get used to rowing in the boat again. We rowed by sixes on the square, focusing mainly on our handle heights at the finish. Partway into practice, the sun finally peeked out from the clouds and the air warmed up. About half-way through our workout, we took a water and snack break which turned into a small photo shoot of the novice girls all back together! Then we got to introduce a new teammate to her first time in a boat. We did bob drills and slowly worked our way into full strokes. We headed back in around 3:15pm and secured the boats for the night. We finally headed for the hotel to get situated and shower after a long day of traveling and rowing. Around 5:30pm we headed to dinner and then got some snacks from the store to fuel up for the rest of our trip!

Permanent link for Rowing Season Conclusion on May 4, 2021

Written by Student-Athlete; Anna Foster.

With the winter semester winding down these past two weeks, the Laker Navy wrapped up their last few weeks of training and the end of the spring racing season. Along with retesting the 2k distance on the ergs in the last week of practice, the 4 squads competed for more points in a series of technical challenges! These challenges included: time to dock the boat, how quickly athletes could spin 180o in the 4 and 8, time to de-rig and rig the 8, a steering challenge for the coxswains, how far the boats could glide without an oar touching the water, and the crowd favorite - coxie surfing! Each squad also got together to take a creative team photo. After a fun last week of practice at the boathouse, the Laker Navy was excited for one last race to conclude the spring season!

On Saturday, the 24th, athletes gathered for the final intersquad regatta. To best simulate what a typical regatta would be in a normal season, athletes raced over the standard 2000m distance and competed in heats, petite finals, and grand finals. The first races of the day were in the Novice 4+, with Team Haley and Team Melissa's crews both winning first in their heats. The next race of the day was the Men's 2x final, decisively won by juniors Eddie Pfannes and Will Van Houten of Team Eddie. Team Eddie also placed first in their heat for the Varsity 4+, preparing to face Team Melissa's crew in the grand final. Up next, the Women's 2x final was one exciting race to watch! Coming into the last 500 meters, Team Melissa's crew was leading the pack. But with one last burst of effort crossing the finish line, the powerhouse duo of senior Erin Vielbig and junior Emili Barth from Team Eddie took the lead to win the race! As Erin's last race as a GV rower, it was a special moment for these ladies and the rest of Team Eddie. Next up came the Novice 4+ finals, with Team Haley taking first for the third week in a row. The Varsity 4+ crews then raced once again, a thrilling finish that saw Team Melissa just taking first from Team Eddie by less than a second! In the final race of the season, Team Melissa's Mixed 8+ crossed the finish line first, followed by Team Haley, then Team Jaydon, then Team Eddie. With all racing completed, Team Melissa once again walked away as the winner of the day with 70 points, followed by Team Haley with 62, Team Eddie with 58, and Team Jaydon with 46. After a long season of dedication from the athletes, we are proud to announce Team Melissa as our spring champion with a total of 300 points! Team Haley finished in second place with 241.5 points. The battle for third place was a close one, with Team Eddie finishing with 222.5 points and Team Jaydon with 222 points. We are so proud of the hard work that all athletes demonstrated in this strange and unusual season!

After a successful day of racing from his squad, captain Eddie reflects on what he and his team have accomplished. He says, "April 24th was a strange day for the team this year. All of our squads had finished up our last practice the previous day, signing up for their boats to take out on the water and preparing for our final race of the season. There were also far fewer races for the day, only five events in total, compared to the previous week's 13 events. Lastly, the team would be competing for 500 meters longer than the two previous regattas, 2000 meters from start to finish. Despite all the changes, the squad took it in stride. My squad did the best we could with what was given to us and put out our best effort on the water. While our scores may not have reflected the best outcome for our races, our team improved significantly over the course of the semester. Personally, I would like to acknowledge the hard work that our novices put in over the course of the semester. From the beginning to the end of the semester, you could feel the difference in skill level that was built with their hard work.

"I would like to acknowledge both our Men's double (Van Houten and Pfannes) and Women's double (Barth and Vielbig), that put on a wonderful show during the race, taking first place for both their events, as well as an honorable mention for our Varsity four (Van Houten, Pfannes, Groessl, Gilbert, and Bulow), which took second in the Grand Final for the event. However, these results are not everything. What matters is that everyone put in the effort and had fun out there. I am happy to see how everyone did during our last race day and look forward to seeing how the team will continue to grow with time.

"Of course, I must acknowledge a few members of my squad that will not be able to return next year: Erin Vielbig, Will Van Houten, and Audrey Bulow. I truly am glad that I was able to have known every single one of you, and as you go off on your own adventures from here on out, I hope you won't forget us in the time to come.

"To finish up, I would like to say that I truly enjoyed every moment with my squad together, from beginning to end, from taking a long steady state row to posing for our photo in our own rendition of the Last Supper. It truly has been an honor to be your captain and hope that you have enjoyed this season just as much as I enjoyed it with you."

Later in the afternoon on the 24th, the team once again gathered to celebrate their accomplishments at the annual GVSU Rowing Banquet. It was an exciting chance to see our athletes all dressed up instead of in their normal uniform of spandex and visors! While this banquet was different from past years where we have dined with friends and family joining our celebration, we are grateful for the opportunity to come together as one and recognize our accomplishments throughout the season and the year. Members of each squad had taken the time to vote for which of their teammates was the most valuable player and the most improved player. Most valuable players were those that, though not necessarily the fastest member, were always willing to go above and beyond for their team; whether filling seats at practice, volunteering for another race, or arriving early to practice to help prepare equipment, these athletes consistently contributed selflessly to the good of their squad. The MVP awards for this spring season were earned by McKenzie Sandel, Noah Lasky, Hailey Engvall, and Erin Vielbig. The most improved player awards were given to those athletes that had shown substantial improvement and growth throughout the year. These MIP awards were given to Sam Sommerdyke, Trey Zichterman, Zoe Kalleward, and Margaret Jastifer. We want to thank each of these athletes for their hard work and dedication to this program! Finally, the banquet gave us a chance to recognize our graduating seniors, Erin Vielbig, Melissa Frank, and Noah Lasky. Each had the opportunity to deliver a senior speech and address the team one last time. Through their words, you could see the ways that being a part of this team has changed them and how they will carry these lessons to continually improve themselves throughout the rest of their lives. The impact they have left on this program and their teammates throughout their 4 years of rowing is immeasurable; from the bottom of our hearts, we thank them for everything they have done and wish them the best of luck and all our support for their future adventures.

With another successful racing season and finals week under their belt, athletes welcome the reprieve of the summer! Over the next few months, they will take the time to reconnect with friends and family, work a summer job, maybe take a few summer classes, or even pick up a new hobby. Regardless of where life may take them over these next few months, our teammates will continue to train and look forward to our hopeful return to the water and racing come the fall season. Thank you to all of our athletes for your hard work these past months. Enjoy your well-earned rest and, as always, continue to pull for the Laker Navy!

Permanent link for Intersquad Regatta #3 on April 26, 2021

Written by Student-Athlete; Anna Foster.

This past weekend, the Laker Navy completed their 3rd installment of the intersquad regattas. Earlier in the week, athletes began with some racing on the ergs, retesting the 6k distance. Many athletes hit a season personal best, and some even set new personal records! After some tough work on-land, racers hit the water for an obstacle course to practice their steering in small boats. Even Coach Dan took a spin around the course to show the rest of us that he's still got it! Saturday's racing really saw this work pay off, with lots of improvements both in the small boat and big boat categories. 

Athletes woke up bright and early Saturday morning for a busy day of racing! With 13 events total, athletes showed off all their racing skills in both small and big boats over the longer 1500m distance and some 500m dashes! The first race of the day was the Men's pair, which saw Anthony Vrooman and Kyle Emerson of Team Haley take the gold by 20 seconds. Next came the Women's 4+. The powerful ladies of Team Eddie took the title for this race, followed by Team Melissa in second place. Team Eddie also finished first in the Men's 1x, a close race was taken by junior Will Van Houten. The women of team Melissa came back for another win, grabbing first place in the Women's 2-. Team Jaydon then took their first win of the season, with freshman Jo Patterson taking the title in the Women's 1x! Next came the Novice 4+, with Team Haley defending their title for the second weekend in a row. Team Melissa's Men's 2x then had a decisive victory, beating out their competition by an impressive 30 seconds. After that, the Varsity 4+ 500m sprint came up to the line, a close race that saw team Eddie crossing first followed by all other crews within 6 seconds. Next came the Women's 2x, again going to team Melissa. Team Melissa also took first place in the Mixed 8+, edging out team Haley by 2 seconds. Team Haley came back for a first-place finish in the Novice 2x 500m sprint. The last race of the day saw Team Melissa cruise across the finish line first in the Mixed 8+ 500m with a time of 1:44.1. After a successful regatta, team Melissa took the title for the day with 68 points. Team Haley totaled 57 points for the day, closely followed by Team Jaydon with 55.5, then team Eddie with 47. Team Melissa still stands in 1st place for the season at 166.5 points. Team Haley comes in second with 139, Team Jaydon in third place with 131.5, and team Eddie close behind with 124. 

With their first win under their belt, Captain Jaydon says, "This spring season, my crew mates have set a standard for years to come. Although we may not have finished at the top of many races, our victories are too plentiful to count. A boat finishing one place higher than before, cleanly racing such that all of our power could be applied, walking on another boat, and even earning a first-place finish are just a few of the countless victories that motivated us to work harder and focus in preparation. In hindsight, our failures were the most valuable gifts of all. Finishing a regatta feeling the need to improve oneself for the sake of the team is a recipe for exceptional gains in the following days. Not only has our racing improved, but our team dynamics and sportsmanship have become exemplary of the Laker Navy. With selfless mentorship by our varsity members, the inexperienced members — and our crew as a whole — showed serious growth across many areas. Progress has been made both as individuals and as a unified crew. Through the course of this strange season, our team has developed a closeness with each other that will never fade. The highest honor any one of us could receive is the opportunity to be strapped in a boat with our newfound family and driving to the utmost capacity for our crew mates. That's what it's all about." Athletes all across the board will be spending this next week with some technical challenges, looking to further refine their technique and continue building boat speed. We're all excited for our last regatta this upcoming weekend and to see who will be the Laker Navy Spring 2021 Champion!

Page last modified March 14, 2022