SANTA CLARA, Calif. - In a season where it hosted its first-ever home regatta, Santa Clara women's rowing wrapped-up its 2012 season at the WCC Championships at Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif. on May 12 and 13. The season was not about just results, but showing the many newcomers on the team what it takes to compete at the Division I level.
"It's clear we still need to embrace the idea of developing and growing this team over the long term for sustainable success," said head coach John Wojtkiewicz. "We took our lumps this season for the better and those athletes who return for next year will have a greater understanding of what it takes to be fast at this level. My firm belief is that over time, and with commitment, we can build our speed to win a conference championship"
Even though success did not come in the form of winning races, Wojtkiewicz knows that the first step to contention is executing the fundamentals.
"We saw much improvement on the water in regards to our technical execution of the rowing stroke," said Wojtkiewicz. "I felt at the end of the season, we were rowing as well as any other crew out there. Being on the water year-round on Lexington Reservoir gives us a significant advantage in that regard and hopefully we will be able to exploit that further down the road."
Another major area of improvement for the Broncos was strength training. Wojtkiewicz must learn what training regimen will most benefit is student-athletes and believes he has found a successful program.
"After some hiccups in the fall with our strength program, we significantly simplified things and saw tremendous gains through the winter," continued Wojtkiewicz. "By the beginning of the racing season, the average maximum watts score (a power test on the rowing machine) in the Varsity 8 surpassed the overall best score from last year."
As for the goals set during the preseason, Wojtkiewicz saw his team meet their main objectives.
"The biggest goal was to have two eights and a four ready for racing and to be able to carry those crews through the season and we were able to do that," said Wojtkiewicz. "We had some speed goals for each crew that were a bit out of our reach, but that is just an issue of time and we can reset those goals for next year."
Building a program from the ground up is not easy and takes patience from the rowers who are there at the beginning when success is still a ways away. Wojtkiewicz knows that he has very special individuals on his team that are willing to put in the hard work so future teams can win titles.
"The attitude of the athletes over the whole season was terrific," said Wojtkiewicz. "The team collectively had the patience and tenacity to reach for the next rung, even though the big payoff could still be 10 or even 20 rungs further up. That kind of maturity comes from an emotional intelligence that is commonplace here at Santa Clara and serves to our advantage."
As for next season, Wojtkiewicz already has ideas for how to improve the team further and knows several areas he wants to work on. This includes getting the rowers to do more work over the offseason this summer.
"We will be refocusing on overall fitness, emphasizing aerobic work over the summer so we come back with a stronger base," added Wojtkiewicz . "Once we get back on campus, we will be keeping that focus on fitness over the fall and into the winter. Our Varsity 8 this year was much stronger, but last year's eight was faster. I think a large part of that will come down to being more diligent about the aerobic work and tracking it more closely."