The women’s crew will be looking to do more with less this season as it prepares to build on last season’s fourth-place finish at last year’s NCAA Championships.
With new leadership from senior captains Elisabeth Hurley and Lindsey Hadlock, the team is poised to approach this season with a slightly different strategy than in the past.
Hurley said this year’s squad will be more focused on strength in numbers as opposed to building off a core of a few talented athletes.
“Over the last couple years we’ve had some really strong key players who have individually been very talented, and this year we don’t have the same amount of key players, “ she said. “So what we’re doing is really trying to train as a whole and get everyone to be as fast as they can.”
Head Coach Becky Robinson, who has taken the team to the NCAA Championships in each of the past 10 seasons, said this year’s team will be defined by its work ethic, unity and cohesion as it strives to build on the strong finishes it had with Amy Geffell ’11 and former captain Jiné Andreozzi ’11.
The definitive challenge facing the Bombers this season is the lack of a solidified crew center. With the new Robert B. Tallman Rowing Center set to open this fall on the site of the team’s former boathouse, the Blue and Gold’s equipment has been shifted among several temporary locations, including an inlet in Whitney Point, N.Y. 40 minutes away.
Robinson said this change, combined with the hydrilla infestation on the Cayuga Inlet in October, contributed to the team not performing as well in the already short fall season.
“It resulted in us having to do split practices so that we could get everybody on the water, which then resulted in people not having the opportunity to row together on a regular basis,” Robinson said. “What we saw at the end of the season, when they got to row together, was this boat speed that we didn’t see in the earlier races.”
Robinson said the hardship will improve the team’s endurance and versatility during the generally cold spring rowing season.
“If they can go out every day and row out of our boathouse, we can go to any regatta site and they will be prepared for any weather,” she said.
Hadlock said the team has made up for a shortened fall season with more dry land practices and new team bonding activities during the past few months.
“The captains have been leading practices, and that’s given us a big push for the spring,” Hadlock said. “We’ve had a lot of really good commitment from the varsity players to be able to go forward in the winter training, and we are more cohesive as a team this year.”
The varsity rowers have implemented a buddy system to help welcome the novice rowers to the team. Each freshman was paired up with a varsity rower, and every time a pair completed a workout they were instructed to color in a square on a chart to help reveal the team’s motto for the season. The chart reads, “Be one, be strong, be proud, ready, row.” In a sport where dedication, maximum effort and unity are key, the Bombers believe this statement perfectly sums up their goals for the year.
The South Hill squad will begin the spring season it hosts William Smith College and Marietta College in the Cayuga Duals on March 31 in Cayuga Inlet.
After last year’s solid finish, the team is determined to succeed and improve from that day on, Hadlock said.
“We have a really strong team right now, and the dedication from the team is amazing,” she said. “It’s definitely obtainable to go back to nationals and do well again, if not better than before.”