GVSU rowing preps for spring campaign
The “Laker Navy” is preparing to compete against an unlikely opponent in their upcoming spring break training trip: each other.
As crew members of the Grand Valley State University rowing club prepare for the upcoming season, their coach prepares to learn who his top athletes are.
GVSU head coach John Bancheri said the trip to Oak Ridge, Tenn. from March 1-10 is important because it gives him an opportunity see what his crew is capable of doing in the water.
“It’s every man for himself,” Bancheri said. “Everyone is working to earn a seat in each boat. It’s physically and mentally demanding.”
Since the start of the winter semester, his crew has been put to the test physically.
Crew members have been building up muscle memory on indoor rowing machines, which help measure their level of fitness. This type of training, along with a variety of weightlifting and calisthenics, is crucial in a sport where strength and endurance define success.
“Their job is to get in great physical condition,” Bancheri said. “We’ll find out more when we get in the water during the spring break trip, which helps us establish a pecking order on the team.”
The crew is currently participating in two-a-days, which start every day at 6 a.m.
GVSU senior Carey Mankins of the women’s crew said the preparation only helps the team get better.
“It’s pretty tiring,” Mankins said. “It’s a lot of doing the same thing over and over again, but this type of training allows us to get to the finals at big races.”
The men’s crew received a big boost on Dec. 14 when they welcomed the return one of their top members, senior Robbie DeWeerd.
DeWeerd was deployed in Afghanistan by the U.S. Navy from January-December of 2012.
“I’m excited to get back out there and compete,” he said. “The crew looks even faster than it did when I left.”
The crew was originally scheduled to take part in “C.R.A.S.H. B,” the World Indoor Championships in Boston, Mass. on Feb. 17, but cancelled the trip as part of a budget-cutting measure.
It’s kind of upsetting,” Mankins said. “Our budget is a bit small so we decided to cut it, but we’re really excited for the Occoquan Sprints.”
The team will make its first-ever trip to Washington D.C. April 6-7 to compete in the event, which features various teams from around the country.
After the 18th Annual Lubbers Cup Regatta (Spring Lake, Mich.) on April 13, the Lakers will travel to Indianapolis for the 49th Annual MACRA Championship on April 27, followed by the 75th Annual Dad Vail National Championship Regatta in Philadelphia.
“We have some kids who have made some major improvements,” Bancheri said. “(The spring season) is the fun – the reward for all the hard work they’ve put in over the winter.”