December 29, 2009

Renewed Commitment Has Broncos Excited About 2010 Campaign

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - After a strong fall season the Santa Clara Broncos women's crew program is eager to begin its upcoming spring schedule.

In September of 2009, Santa Clara announced the hiring of former U.S. Rowing National Team member and Dartmouth College graduate Anne Kennedy as the program's head coach.

From the Coach's Desk:  

The fall ushered Santa Clara women's crew into an exciting new era. With a renewed commitment to fitness, strength, and consistency of effort, the Broncos enjoyed marked improvement throughout the fall. The crew saw it's first racing of the season in mid-November at the Head of the Lagoon in Foster City. In beautiful conditions and on a challenging head race course, the Broncos had a solid finish, placing second in the women's open 4+.

Led by sophomore Chewy Jang, junior Jill Walker and senior Jen Bullion, the Broncos' performance reflected both the hard work and the genuine excitement that characterize this group. Looking forward to winter training, the team looks to continue building consistency, strength and fitness in pursuit of a successful spring racing season.

-AMK

"In the early months of training you're thinking 'What is all this for?' Because the race is so far off. There's so much tedium and discipline and brutal effort to hammer through...Somewhere in the race, you will find out what it is you've been working for. And you're asking big questions of your body, and when the right answers are coming back, it's a feeling you know you will never forget." -- Dan Topolski (TRUE BLUE, The Oxford Boat Race Mutiny)

`There's a sense of accomplishment' - senior Jennifer Bullion:

Exhausted, sore, and straining to catch our breath at the finish line of the Head of the Lagoon race there was also a moment of clarity. At the end of a grueling 5k, when even lifting your arms is a challenge, there was a mutual understanding between the five of us in the boat. When we turned and congratulated each other it was for more than just a solid race, it was for all of our work in the fall season.

This past fall has been a time of recommitment for Santa Clara Women's Crew. We came together after the summer break and started training for our spring racing season. As a young team with a new coach and a lot of work ahead of us, we had to commit to our goals quickly and wholeheartedly. Our motto this fall has been "Getting comfortable being uncomfortable," which means pushing our limits and instilling mental toughness. In rowing the fall is for conditioning and building a strong base fitness to be successful in the spring. Waking up to erg 12k's in Leavey before 6am and two-a-day practices wasn't easy, but we're stronger for it. The last week of practices was some of our most demanding workouts we've had, but once we got through it we were able to look back at how far we'd come as a team.

There's a sense of accomplishment about Fall 2009, but the focus is still on the spring. Our only Head Race this fall was in November in Foster City, and our second place finish was rewarding. I've been especially proud of our team's renewed dedication this season; everyone has been forced to step up and work harder than ever. With many teammates injured or abroad we've had to practice and race in 4's instead of our usual 8-person boats. It's been a lot of cold mornings on Lexington, some days in thick fog banks or near monsoon conditions (one highlight was bailing out our boat while our coxswain was practically swimming in the hull). As a team we're very excited for the start of racing season, feeling better conditioned and refined technique-wise. We know that our hard work in the fall will turn the potential on our team into results on race day.

`We know where need to be' - junior Jillian Walker:

We started the season off right at the beginning of the quarter and quickly found that this year, let alone this season, would be something none of us had ever experienced. Upon meeting the new coach, Anne, and finding that she rowed on the National team, I realized that the team would be pushed to a higher standard and that there would be no room for nonsense. I sat down for a one-on-one meeting with Anne and asked her what a practice would look like, thinking that I would like to know what was ahead of me. She told me that we would be doing at least a 12k on the erg for land practices and even more on the water. I nodded in agreement, but secretly I was terrified and wishing I hadn't asked. As the training plans came out and practices began, everyone was excited about the intensity and thrilled to be pushed to the physical limit and, more so, to the mental limit.

We spent the first Saturday practice cleaning the boat house which was not only essential but long overdue. As the quarter progressed, we spent hours training, both on land with the ergs and body circuits and on water trying to find connection. The biggest problem of the fall season, we quickly found out, was that we had 1 port and about 8 starboards. In addition to the port to starboard ratio problem, we had several who were not medically cleared to row. A rowable four was impossible with the numbers we had, so two of us starboards voluntarily switched to port. With a four that had enough water time to compete, we raced the Head of the Lagoon. This was the first and only head race that we had for the fall season, and we were proud of our 2nd place finish.

We now know where we are, and we know where need to be as spring season kicks off. Aside from rowing and training, we recruited many novices that will definitely contribute to a strong program and a strong season. We also participated in a Breast Cancer walk in San Francisco in which we had a "walk through nature" as Anne called it, which basically turned the walk into a mini-workout. We finished fall quarter training with a total fitness test and we now have a training plan in place for the six-week break between fall and winter quarter. When we return from break we have the entire months of January and February to get ready for spring racing where we will have the opportunity to achieve our personal and team goals.