March 1, 2007

Women's Crew Blog - 2007

Katie Fahrer is a senior at Santa Clara and has rowed crew since her freshman year on the Mission Campus. The team has six seniors and four who have rowed for four seasons. Katie will give Bronco fans the scoop on her final season of rowing and the team's early morning wake-up calls.

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Posted: May 2, 2007
Community

Hello again! Returning from a solid, inspirational three days of racing at Lake Natoma, I am ready to acknowledge and take full ownership of my obsession with Crew. I think I came to terms with my addiction on Monday afternoon. It was our first day off from practice and racing in a week, and I have never wanted to be back out on the water so badly. The past two weeks have been intense, to say the least, but I know now that working through changes and overcoming a challenge are what makes a team grow stronger.

Overall, the weekend was a lot of fun. A definite shout out is in need for the men's and women's novice teams who ended up BOTH placing first in their petite finals on Saturday afternoon. It has been awesome to watch the progress of both these teams over the course of the season. They definitely deserved the success they achieved in the competition this past weekend. YEAH NOVICE!!

As I begin my last full week of practice as an honored member of the Santa Clara Crew Team, I can't help but feel slightly overcome by the bittersweet taste that accompanies finding closure to an amazing four years. I don't exactly know what I am going to do with myself once this season ends.

In light of a recent job application I have been doing a lot of reflection, both on life and my experiences at Santa Clara. In a series of short response questions I was asked to define community, and describe an experience I have had working with a specific community. Naturally, I chose to write about Crew and I decided to include my response to this question in this blog...

A community is a group of people living, working or interacting that have been brought together by physical boundaries, common interest or an emotional connection.

As a member of the Santa Clara University Women's Crew team, I have had the opportunity to establish relationships, adapt to a unique lifestyle and experience personal growth amongst a community of intercollegiate athletes.

The time consuming and physically demanding early morning practices required by the sport of Crew do not exactly align with the typical lifestyle of a college student. However, I feel that in many ways I have learned more from the time I spent out on the water with my team, than I did within the confinements of the classroom.

Learning to row in perfect synchronization in an eight person boat is the epitome of team work. To be successful, it is essential to interact and connect with many different personalities and commit to achieving one goal. With the support of an amazing coach, I have worked alongside my teammates to overcome mental barriers; learning that the human body and mind have the power to break numerous boundaries and achieve the impossible.

The most important aspect of working within this specific community has been the bonds I have established with my teammates. Coming from a family of brothers, it has been a personal reward to call the girls of the Santa Clara Crew community my sisters.

That being said, I am sincerely looking forward to the next week of practice and preparations for our last, and for the five seniors on the team, our final regatta. We will leave next Wednesday morning for Philadelphia where we will have our first and second Varsity boats competing in the Dad Vail Regatta- the largest intercollegiate rowing competition in the U.S. Last year we were only able to send one boat from our program to this race. It will be amazing to share the experience this year with another boat, and also with the Men's team. I CAN'T WAIT! I will write an update with more race info early next week.

I leave you now with a BIG thank you to all of our friends and family that were able to make it out to our races this weekend. You have no idea how much your support means to us. There is nothing that compares to approaching the sprint of a race and hearing the loud cheering of our fans--you guys truly make us faster and are simply amazing!

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Posted: April 18, 2007
Lexington Cup

It was a wonderful weekend for the Lexington Cup, despite the sudden onset of an icy wind and rain storm, the morning of racing was a success. After leaving Sonoma State and Cal Lightweights in our dust, it was an all out battle down the course between the Varsity Crews of Santa Clara and St. Mary's. Even though St. Mary's ended up crossing the finish line five seconds up, we were able to maintain connection up until the last 300 meters of the race. With a time of 6:45.4, we significantly narrowed the gap between the two boats based on previous race times put out by both crews this season. If anything, the Lexington Cup gave us just what we needed heading into the WCC championships. Knowing how close we are to our biggest competition has added fuel to our fire and you can count on a close race for the championship ranking. Both the JV8 and the Novice had an amazing race, beating St. Mary's and proving the strength and depth of our program. I have to admit, I was a little envious of their impressive performance and their new bragging rights to carry into the upcoming races.

By the time we had sipped down some water and hit the Porto's after our race, it was time to launch again for the Four-woman competition. I'm pretty sure God agreed that we had not been given ample time to circle through the food tent provided by the Bronco Bench Foundation, because the rain began to pour down as we walked the boats out. Despite what anybody may ever try to tell you, it is NOT fun to row in the rain. I don't know who would try to make this claim because "not fun" is even an understatement, it is miserable.

A rain storm, combined with even a slight wind, makes for choppy water and difficult conditions to work with. Imagine concentrating on maximizing your body movement in wet, skin clinging spandex while attempting not to loose hold of your oar by enforcing a death grip around the handle, feeling new blisters forming with each stroke. To put the icing on the cake as you sit, trying to radiate body heat, you can simultaneously watch your boat fill up with water and pray to god that you don't sink. Ok... so this might be a slight exaggeration of the conditions on Saturday, but trust me it is not completely unrealistic. Two years ago at a race we attended in Humboldt I witnessed a boat fill up with rain water during a storm and sink, leaving the four rowers flailing around in the water while they waited for a rescue team to come fish them out. Maybe this memory has something to do with the fact that I am not fond of the rain rows, but I think the average rower would agree.

Aside from conditions, our two fours made their way down the course, finishing up second and fourth in the heat. Overall, the weekend was a success and a lot of fun. We were even able to keep the beautiful stainless steel punch bowl (formally known as The Lexington Cup) in our own boathouse after forgetting to present it to St. Mary's. It is probably for the best, considering no other crew would be able to fully appreciate its character.

After seat racing the first half of the week, we are finally rowing in our WCC lineups and committed to making improvements and gaining speed as we approach the tournament. Another fun bonus that comes along with a complete devotion of time and energy to the sport of Crew is getting to watch the progression of delirium grow more apparent with each early morning practice. As we make the drive to the reservoir each morning and sit and stretch before going out for our row, I always like to make a point to notice the odd behaviors of my teammates and keep a tally of awkward positions and places to fall asleep. Not to be hypocritical, I'm sure many of my teammates can account for my own weird moments. In fact, for the past two mornings I have had "Christmas parties" with my fellow senior rower Tracy Flecky. By combing our red and green shoes while we stretch we are able to set the mood for the party, then I usually start up with one of my favorite Christmas jingles while Tracy refills the punch bowl and sends out invitations to various teammates, asking them to "bring the cookies." There truly is never a dull moment in the dark hours spent in the comforts of the SCU boathouse. Priceless.

Have a great week, and if it happens to be raining wherever you are, thank your lucky stars that you are not sitting in a boat.

Commit to One, No Regrets, Drive for Open Water.

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Posted: April 11, 2007
Catching Up

PHOTO GALLERY

WOW time does fly... Deepest apologies for the large time gap between blogs, I know my eager readers (Mom and Dad) have been longing for an update. Sooo lets flashback to where I left off-

During Spring Break we were able to spend some long hours on the water, which really seemed to improve our boat speed and technique. The entire program made great strides and we definitely brought our "A" game to San Diego. We entered into the weekend with the primary goal of being able to race in the finals on Sunday, and from that point on there was no looking back. Both the Varsity and the Novice A boat advanced to the Petite Finals and were able to achieve our goal, which marks a first for the Santa Clara Women's Crew program. The highlight race of the weekend from my perspective was our first heat race on Saturday. The conditions were perfect and we were able to nail our race plan, finishing third behind Temple and State of New York- Buffalo, missing advancement into the Grand Finals by .2 seconds. Luckily, we will be able to see a lot of the same teams again, including Temple and Buffalo, when we race at the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia the second week in May. There will be no regrets- the West Coast Redemption shall be delivered.

During the week of training it was really great to spend some time getting to know our Novice rowers. It is tradition to add some excitement to the long week of repetitive practices by incorporating various theme days into our afternoon workouts. One of the many things I was able to learn about our group of Novice this year is that they do not mess around when it comes to Costume Attire. They definitely showed us up, and represented SC out on the water in their flashy outfits. The eight hour van ride down and back to San Diego also allowed for plenty of "bonding time" amongst the team. To our advantage, the Sunday driving back happened to fall on April 1, so a large portion of the time was spent devising plans and making phone calls to trick our fellow teammates, coaches and family members. Gotta love the April Foooools!

Another great memory I was able to take back from the weekend is a somewhat humiliating story about my lovely teammate Jennifer O'Neill. After dinner on Friday night, Jenny decided to venture out into the parking lot to find our van and bring it around to the front of the restaurant so we wouldn't have to walk--sweet girl. As Jenny was making the trek she saw a black SUV coming towards her and recognizing the vehicle as one of Santa Clara's own she quickly made her way into the bushes to prepare for a sneak attack. As the vehicle rolled past, Jenny jumped from the bushes in front of the car where she proceeded to perform her crouched wiggle arm dance for a good 30 seconds before moving out of the headlights. Both Jenny and the unknown elderly women, driving the IDENTICAL black SUV, were in quite a state of shock as they came face to face at the driver's side window. Unfortunately for Jenny, the entire team was still in the restaurant, so she had to suffer through her own embarrassment until we were able to join her back in the van. I think she was a little traumatized by the whole incident, but it provided some nice entertainment for the rest of us. Next time you run into the girl, ask her to show you the dance. It's simply priceless.

Since we have returned and Spring quarter has began, the team has been stepping it up and trying to take what we learned at the Crew Classic to make ourselves faster and stronger. We have begun our final push towards preparations for the WCC finals- which are only three weeks away. Carlo has been pushing us with extra workouts during the week, and adding a much more competitive edge on every practice. After San Diego we were able to bring up four of the strongest Novice rowers to begin training with and making the transition up to Varsity. These girls have really stepped it up, and have been making each practice for us more intense and focused. They are going to be a great asset to both the Varsity and JV8 lineups.

After finishing up some seat races at this morning's practice, we are all looking forward to rowing in our new lineups the remainder of the week and preparing for our only HOME regatta this Saturday--The Lexington Cup! We will be facing Sonoma State, Davis, Cal Lightweights and our longstanding rivals--Saint Marys. This will definitely be a great race, and would be an awesome time for local fans to come check us out. Since a majority of our regattas usually involve some travel time, it's nice to be able to host a home regatta that allows for friends and family to come show their support. The more fans, the better! Besides, who wouldn't want to take advantage of seeing the lovely Men and Women of SCU Crew fully outfitted in our spandex attire. Also, there have been rumors that Carlo may bust out his home-made sweat pant leg cutoff beanie, but I guess you will have to come and check out for yourself to see if its true.

For those of you out-of-towners that won't be able to make the races this weekend, check back in next week for an update on our results. Hope all is well for each and every one of you. I'm sure that the Easter Bunny has filled your heart with JOY and your stomachs with Chocolate--and if not, come see my roommate Molly because I've heard she has been trying to pawn off her peeps to avoid future puking at practice. Gooood Move....

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Posted: March 23, 2007
Spring Break

After the somewhat concerning subject matter of my last blog, you will all be happy to know that we have made it through another quarter of grueling finals. We are all alive, and despite our somewhat FRIED mental state, we are ready for Spring Break training. After having the day off last Friday we were able to put in some solid work on the water for Saturday's practice. With Tracy's back improving by the day and my speedy recovery from a minor case of whiplash (freak accident), we were able to bring back the Senior 4. Something truly magical happens when the four of us get in a boat together, the only way to describe the feeling is: Intense. Its fun when we get the opportunity to row together on the Lex, and hopefully someday we will be able to bring the intensity to an actual race!

The rest of the week has definitely been focused towards school and passing our finals. We've been doing workouts on our own to keep up our cardio and prepare our bodies for the physical pain that so wonderfully accompanies Spring Break. Starting Friday afternoon our team will launch into triple days of training. The early morning practice is generally pretty tough, working on race pieces and our power. The mid afternoon practice is on land, and usually involves cardio, weights and core fitness- if we are lucky like last year we may get to mix it up with a swim workout or perhaps a delightful Spinning session. We head back to the Lex around 3 for an afternoon row that is usually a bit more relaxed and a time for us to focus on improving our technique. When we aren't practicing at the reservoir or training in Leavey, we can be found tightly packed into one of our teammate's houses--eating. There is a nice simplicity to the fact that the events of our daily routine can be summed up in three words--Eat, Sleep, Row. Although, a more honest rendition of the phrase would be ROW, eat, ROW, eat, ROW, eat, sleep a little...and repeat. It's wonderful.

This year we have several exciting events to look forward to throughout the week. On Sunday we will have the honor of working at the Mermaid Run in Foster City. This is a great opportunity for out team to fundraise and also support our coach in his "other" job- which involves putting together various runs and triathlons in the Bay Area. The next event on the calendar comes on Wednesday when we will be hosting the Stanford Lightweights on our home turf for a "competitive scrimmage." This is a great way to apply what we have been working on throughout the week in a race setting.

As if this exciting practice wasn't enough, Wednesday just decides to go and get crazy fun on us. All you returning rowers will be pumped to hear that we have been invited back to the Santa Cruz hills for fine dinning at the Fette residence. Ummm, did somebody say ROLLS?! Novice, you think you know... but you have NO idea. This is pretty much the most amazing meal ever. Plus a great way to cap off our week here at Santa Clara, as we will be leaving Thursday morning for So Cal. This is always an eventful drive...last year brings back fond memories. Let's just say there was the construction of a sweatshirt flag and a run in with the Cal men's crew team--good thing we were wearing our nice sweats.

Hopefully we will arrive into San Diego with enough time to rig the boats and fit in a practice Thursday evening. Racing starts Friday and will continue through the weekend. Cross your fingers for nice weather, gotta love those attractive spandex tan lines. I think that's all I have for you now, make sure to check back next week for results from the Crew Classic and an assortment of survival stories from the spring training madness!

Commit to 1, No regrets, Drive for open water.

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Posted: March 16, 2007
Living Like A Champion

With the events of last weekend (namely racing-YAY) seeming so far in the past, I have decided to devote this weeks blog to a seemingly more important issue: SLEEP DEPRIVATION. We have reached that time of the quarter when professors take advantage of squeezing in last minute assignments, piling on research papers and then when you think you are reaching the end... they smack you in the face with a final. This two week stretch of academic hell has been proven to take a toll on the average college student, but for student athletes the end of the quarter is particularly painful.

Life for a rower is already full of early mornings and physically exhausting workouts. When you combine that with a couple nights of cramming and all night study sessions some pretty interesting things begin to happen. When people told me as a freshman that crew was going to teach me more than how to move a boat, mentioning such things as "life skills," they were not joking around. I have officially mastered the art of sleep deprived functionality, and if that's not a life skill I don't know what is. Ladies-Tom Hanks role in Castaway ain't got nothing on us.

Reflecting on this morning's practice, I can't help but have a chuckle. I knew it was going to be rough as I typed my paper into the wee hours of the morning, noticing that several of my teammates were also online and busy at work. When 6 a.m. rolled around we picked the most coherent of our teammates to drive, loaded our tired bodies into cars, and made our way to the reservoir. Given that I fell asleep while stretching, I am surprised I even made it down the hill and into a boat. As I climbed into my seat and got ready to push off the dock, I began to witness the effect that stress and sleep deprivation was having on my teammates. I thought I was dreaming when I glanced over and saw my little rower friends Katrina Ostertag and Jenny O'Neill bouncing around the dock like little crew fairies with their legs tucked into their tee-shirts. I guess it seemed normal at the time.

During the warm-up, my roommate Molly Hagen informed me that our boat (including coxswain) had a combined total of 6 hours of sleep from last night... the fact that Molly was able to utilize her math skills under the circumstance was enough to impress me. The rest of practice was kind of a blur. Our four made its way zigzagging up and down the reservoir as our coxswain drifted in and out of sleep. There were periods of complete silence which were followed by a nice curve in our course and we all knew that she was "taking a little break." I loved it, Heather you are amazing! Before our last piece towards the dock, our stroke seat Ashley Tomberlin turned back and seeing our sleepy faces decided to give her boat some words of wisdom. I can still hear her profound statement resonating in my ears "Sleep is for rookies. Coffee is for champions. No excuses, play like a champion today." So we forgot where we were, lost ourselves in the moment and rowed that piece like champions.

I think our coach took notice of our somewhat delusional state and decided by the end of practice that we may need a day of rest. Giving us the option of a team breakfast or time to study on Friday morning felt like a gift from God. Being the good Jesuit Santa Clarans we are, we chose to study- Carlo I am sure our professors will thank you when we aren't falling asleep during their finals next week. I think the little break is for the best. After next week, however, we will be shifting all of our energy and focus towards crew. Spring Break is always an awesome week for us to devote to the team. Without the added stress of school, work and life- we are really able to make some improvements on the water as well as spend quality time bonding as a team. The week of intense training is followed by a trip to Southern California for the San Diego Crew Classic- by far one of my favorite weekends of racing. I can't wait! Anyone planning on being in the area should definitely come check it out. I'm not sure if blogs will be posted during the week of Spring Break, so I will try and get in one more update before the fun begins.

Until next time, sip on a cup of coffee and live LIFE like a champion.

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Posted: March 7, 2007
Sac State Weekend

What a beautiful weekend for racing! When we arrived in Sacramento on Saturday morning the sun was shining and the water was calm. I knew the season had officially begun once I stepped out of Molly's jeep and saw junior rower Ben Nimmons standing alongside the boats wrapped warmly in his Burberry scarf. There was something that had been missing up until that point but hadn't been able to put my finger on it- pretty sure it was Ben and his infamous red shoes.

Despite some first race jitters, the women's varsity and JV 8s were able to pull off some solid pieces against Sac State. The "gap" between our two teams is definitely closing and we were able to hang with this powerhouse crew for longer than we have in past years. It was exciting to see our progress and also a great opportunity for our novice girls to experience their very FIRST 2k racing of their rowing careers. They represented us well. The novice men also deserve a shout out for their awesome performance, in which they smoked the Sac State boys-leaving them shirtless and defeated. It was beautiful.

After some hard morning racing we took off for the home of novice rower, Kate Greenwood, where we were able to catch up on some sleep and homework before eating an amazing meal prepared by the Greenwood family. Anyone who is able to entertain and feed a team of 50 girls in their own home deserves an award- or at least a paid vacation to somewhere tropical. Big thank you to Kate's parents-- the dinner was delicious and your carpet was soft and glorious for napping.

After dinner the varsity girls took off for Molly's house where we were welcomed with homemade banana bread and spicy chai tea. After finally convincing myself that it was socially unacceptable to go to bed at 7:30 p.m. (even though it felt like midnight), we discussed our race plan for Davis and then popped in a movie. Thanks to the wonderful cinema selection, More Than Friends, I stilllll have the sad lyrical tune...Forgiveness, its more then saying sorry... temporarily STUCK in my head. Please, somebody make it stop! Despite the constant repetition in my head, I was able to fall sound asleep at the prime time of 10 p.m.

We awoke Sunday morning at 4:30 a.m. to the beautiful harmony of nine cell phone ring tones sounding their jazzy wake up calls. By the way, this is a great way to make sure you will not sleep through your snooze. After packing up, we piled into cars and made our way to Davis for another morning of racing. Sunday was truly a day for the FOURS to shine. After a somewhat rocky row in the 8, we were able to divide and conquer what was rightfully ours by sweeping the three other schools in our Four races. Our first and second varsity fours took first place, beating out Davis, UCSB and Sonoma State. The four-man competitions proved to be the ticket for success for the men's team as well, with first place wins for the varsity and novice fours. I attribute our wins to the blue sky and the bridge top cheering section- which included senior Tracy Flecky. Tracy was out this weekend with a back injury, but definitely gave us a GINORMOUS amount of motivation and energy from her cheering post. Thanks Trace!

All in all, this weekend was a really great start to our season. This week we will be putting in a lot of hard work- making a few adjustments and gearing up for another big day of racing. We will leave again this Saturday to travel back to Lake Natoma for the Sac State Invitational, where we will be facing even more competition including our biggest rivalry- Saint Mary's. Saint Mary's College is a crew that we are constantly working to stay ahead of, so this weekend will surely bring out the fighting spirit that lies within the heart of this team.

I believe that is all for now, I hope you all are well and that your week is full of fun adventures. Until next time, I will leave you with our team's brand NEW mission statement that we have been working to develop at Monday meetings with our team's Sports Psychologist Tyson Holt. I think it represents us well...

Commit to 1, No Regrets, Drive for Open Water.

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Posted: March 1, 2007
Season Opener

Friends, family and fellow teammates,

It is my honor to accept the position of the Women's Crew blogger. I would like to personally invite you to join me and my CREW this season as we embark on our journey as intercollegiate competitive rowers. Has anybody seen that show on MTV, True Life- I believe is the title? Well, it has always been a dream of mine to see them branch away from high school cheerleaders and the repetitive stories of misguided youth to document a commonly misunderstood and often overlooked sport: Intercollegiate Rowing. After four years of waiting, my dream has begun to dwindle...MTV- you are seriously slacking. Therefore, I shall attempt to take on the task myself. However seeing as though I actually participate in the sport, have a job and I am trying to graduate in June, forgive me if I neglect some minor details... I don't exactly sleep (story of a rower's life).

As a senior I have been able to watch our program grow and become stronger, I can assure you that this season will be a testament to our continued forward progression. After a long and grueling training season we are finally ready to lay our work out on the line and begin the 2007 racing season. I find it hard to believe that this Saturday we will line up and race against Sacramento State, signifying the start of my last collegiate rowing season at Santa Clara. This morning at practice I could feel the energy and excitement surge down our boat as we walked through our race plan, working out the final kinks. It's the same feeling you get right before something amazing is about to happen, combined with the anticipation that lies in the unknown. The first race is a vital part of the season, because it's our first opportunity to gauge our performance against our competition. Even though Sac State is not a team in our conference, they are always an amazing crew to row against. The race gives us our first officially timed 2K of the season, and knowing where we stand allows us to return to practice with motivation and determination to constantly bring those numbers down.

After we race Sac State on Saturday and enjoy an amazing feast prepared by the infamous Mama Fette (mmm STEAK- almost as exciting as the race itself), we will slumber party it up at the home of senior Molly Hagen. Waking bright and early on Sunday, such is the nature of our sport, we will travel to Davis to compete in D.I.R.T. (the Davis Invitational). It's always entertaining to watch our coach's eyes light up as we approach the industrialized course which was his home as a little rower boy for Davis not too long ago. The place has character Carlo; we will give you that much. In past years this regatta has been cut short do to extreme rain and chillllllling winds. It has been intense to say the least, very perfect storm-esque. However, I am sure that this year will be nothing but blue skies and sunshine and we will be able to take some names reppin' the SC baby! Carlo- I think you are gonna have to leave your love for Davis in the backseat because we are ready to make you proud to be a Bronco.

Until next time...Sleep an extra hour or two this weekend in honor of your favorite rowers. PEACE.