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!

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