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Welcome back to a new season of Mizzou Rowing! School is around the corner, which means the excitement, team bonding, and hard work for head race season is about to begin.  Think you want to join this once-in-a-lifetime college experience?  You won’t regret it.  Come on down, meet the team, and discover what you’ve been missing!  Here is the schedule for our first week back.

Night August 26: Novice Rower Meeting at 7 pm room 113 in the Arts and Science Building

Morning August 27: Rec Center-Novice Rowers 1.5 Run & Drown Proofing
Perche Creek-Varsity Practice

Morning August 28: Perche Creek-First Novice Practice

Morning August 29: Perche Creek-Second Novice Practice

Afternoon August 30: Perche Creek-Novice & Varsity Practice

Morning September 1: Perche Creek-Novice Practice

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This weekend of collegiate rowing was the last for two of the men on our team and we (the novices) wanted to make this regatta one they would NEVER forget. 

After we finished hanging out with the St. Cloud team and got back to our hotel room on Saturday night, everyone went straight to bed, exhausted from a hard day’s competition.

Everyone, except us.

Our coach quickly fell asleep and our evil plan soon began to take form. Earlier that day at the grocery store, we picked up two cans of silly string without the coach knowing and when the lights turned off, the silly string came out.  One of us took the camera, two took silly string containers, and one extra was the safety for passing of the string between us to cause confusion in case he came after us in retaliation. The plan also included the quick use of the garbage can outside for swift removal of the evidence. It was the perfect plan.

silly string attack

Photo by Kristen Powers

Tiptoeing into the room, I held up my hand.  One. Two. Three. GO!  We shot our coach  with the silly string head to toe, and an  eruption of laughter filled the room. He starts  yelling, clearly startled and clearly confused.  As he rises from the bed, we all make a run for  it.  One goes down the sidewalk outside, I  quickly dispense of my silly string, and the  rest huddle in the corner as our coach  stumbles into our room covered in red and  green silly string.

The next day was a bitter sweet farewell of rowing.  The schedule included a number of sprint races of only 400 meters and ended all too fast.  There is a tradition of throwing the coxswain into the river if you win your heat, and since our coach was the most decorated of Mizzou rowing graduates, we decided to give him the honor of being tossed into the river :). After a nice talk, many hugs, and many photos, we stepped into the car, and began the drive home.

Between an epic bumping experience (dancing/singing in the car with the music turned all the way up), food, and reminiscing about great past rowing adventures, the sun eventually set on our final weekend together as a team.  A team that began as a cluster of young adults from around the country, with seemingly little in common, and ended as crew laden with incredible friendships, experiences, and memories we will all remember for years to come.

Seniors - Photo by Heather Gray

Seniors - Photo by Heather Gray

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Here we are in Topeka, Kansas for the Great Plains Rowing Championship.  It is the last regatta of the season and we are lucky enough to stay in a luxurious Motel 6 for the two day event. 

The regatta began on Saturday, May second although a few rowers from our team were still on the road.  Unfortunately, at the coach’s cox’s meeting in the morning, we were greeted by some less than encouraging news. Apparently, there was a schedule change that forced us to scratch some races due to the fact that our team was not entirely there.  The morning had us scrambling to find a rower to fill in for our women’s open four while simultaneously rigging our boat, getting on the water, and trying to reach starting line in time. 

By the time we pulled up to the start, our race had taken off and we ended up racing with the varsity women’s four – with three MU novices in the boat.  We held our own and gave a respectable performance, especially considering the fact that our team had yet to get the chance to eat breakfast or buy groceries.

Since this regatta lasted two days, our final race on Saturday wasn’t until five o’clock at night.  To pass the time between races, we initiated a mean game of wiffle ball in the wet muddy field by the river.  The teams were a mixture of Mizzou, St. Cloud, and SLU.   

The bonding between teams is one thing that I particularly love about rowing.  Call it a gentleman’s sport, an Ivy League sport, or whatever you want, but there is truly nothing like it the world of athletics.  Although rivalries exist, the level of respect and fun in what we do is unmatched. 

For instance, the oh-so-hated KU rowing club trailered our boats for us when we really needed it in the fall.  Can you picture the KU football team trucking our equipment to an away game?  No, I didn’t think so. 

 

Roasting Marshmallows - Photo by Valerie Bu

Roasting Marshmallows - Photo by Valerie Bu

 

Even this weekend, the St. Cloud team made us dinner and we got to know each other better over a homemade mean and s’mores for dessert.  We also borrow and lend rowers for races quite frequently; thus, it is not uncommon to see a boat cross the finish with multiple colored jerseys and different oars.

 

 

Rowing is the only team sport I have ever been a part of that has truly embraced the definition of what it means to be a team.  If you work as individuals in a boat you will NEVER reach your full potential, but when a boat of rowers becomes a crew… that is a beautiful thing.

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Here is an excerpt from an e-mail I received this afternoon: 

“We need to have an emergency boat removal today! … If we don’t get people to move the boats, then we can kiss them goodbye as they float away down Percke Creek.” 

After practice this morning, instead of receding, the water continued to rise and put our boats in danger.  As a club sport at Mizzou, we do not have much funding from the school and therefore do not have a dock or a boathouse, thus putting our boats in danger because they are sitting outside near the path.  

 

Flooded Creek

Flooded Creek

Boat in Danger

Boat in Danger

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perche creek

Photo by Heather Gray

The above photo is a picture of Perche Creek, the wonderful tributary the MU Crew Team has the honor of rowing on every day so early in the morning.  Our team has little funding and have thus become a very resourceful and scrappy team.  Most of the time, she is calm and clear, but at times she forces us to maneuver around logs, random hay bales, fight through fog, become prey to GIANT mosquitos, and deal with flooding.  If you have been in Columbia, MO the last week, you can guess the problem we encountered this morning.

tstorms1

Monday

Tuesday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Wednesday

 

 

 

 

As we arrived at the creek this morning, singing, dancing, and sharing fun stories in the car, sitting in the passenger seat, I found myself yelling, “STOP!”  Mark, the one driving, hit the brakes hard in order to avoid driving into the river.  Perche creek had flooded so bad, the parking lot was completely submerged.  In the photo above, there are two arrows, one blue one red.  The blue arrow points to the river in the background at a normal level down the hill and near the far trees.  Today, the river reached all the way up to where the red arrow points along the path leading to the parking lot that would be on the left.

Believe it or not, we still got on the water this morning.  I coxed (see rowing basics for the definition) and had my team walk the boat into the parking lot and row down the newly expanded river.  It was perhaps one of the best days on the water because it was so calm with very little debris.  

Only at Mizzou will you find a crew team able to row on a parking lot.  Only at Mizzou.

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The Mizzou Crew team is unlike any other I have ever been on, and I have played with my fair share of athletic organizations.  I started playing softball when I was in first grade, began competitive travel softball in fifth grade, began basketball in sixth grade, cheerleading in seventh, tennis my sophomore year of high school, and if they had allowed me to pick up any other sport, I’m sure I would have tried it. 

Why switch to rowing in college?  

The informational meeting had already passed, without my knowledge, and, as a freshman from the suburbs of Chicago, I still did not know many of my peers.  One night, when I went out with a group of newly formed friends, we began talking about college athletics.  A girl chimed in that she was on the rowing team and said I could still join.  She told me what a great workout it was, how many cool people were involved, and that we got to travel across the country to compete.  She had my full attention, until she hesitantly mentioned “Oh, and I wake up at 4:45 every morning for practice.”.  Though I am a morning person, I told her I would think about, fully intending not to join the team.

After the group dispersed, I began thinking about what it would be like as a collegiate rower and how my friends and family would react when I told them I was on the team.  It was something I had never heard of before, except for in the movies, but decided to contact the coach and go to one practice, no strings attached. 

I met the team at 5:10 am in the Virginia Avenue Parking Garage and we left for Perche Creek at 5:15.  Once there, everyone went for a 15 minute warm-up jog and came back for a quick meeting where the coach told everyone the line-up for the day.  I was set to be in the launch (motor boat) with the coach to observe how practice commenced. It was love at first stroke.  After five minutes on the water, I couldn’t wait to get in a shell and try it for myself.  A new sport, something new to perfect, and my competitive nature found its perfect release. 

Though I was the last one to join for the fall season, you would never have guessed it by the bond I created with this amazing group of athletes.  Something special happens when you spend two hours together each morning, looking and feeling your absolute best, complete with bed-hair and no make-up.

My decision to join the team was without a doubt one of the best decisions I’ve made thus far in my life.  Later this week I will post some of the fun times from our last week of rowing before our final regatta of the spring season.

 

Photo by Barry Gray

Photo by Barry Gray

 

 

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