Ever wonder what it would be like to see the sunrise each morning? While most college students relish staying up late and sleeping in, the members of the Drake women’s rowing team forgo this privilege for the chance to be a part of Drake athletics.
The team’s most recent success includes the varsity-eight boat’s 10th place finish out of 24 boats at the Head of the Iowa regatta on Oct. 31. The rowers faced their toughest competition yet, racing against state schools with strong rowing programs, most notably Iowa and Wisconsin.
“I’ve always been really competitive in sports, and crew has really allowed me to maintain this competitive outlet and challenge myself,” junior Hilary Dietz said.
Since the Head of the Iowa regatta, the rowers have experienced a drastic shift in the format of their practices. Over the past week and a half, practices have been geared toward preparing for the last race of the fall season, as well as the spring season. The focus has switched from three-mile head races to 2,000-meter sprints. Practices typically include work on speed, strong starts, utilizing the rowers’ strength and building endurance.
“When we (the novice rowers) started, the coaches explained everything really well from the beginning and the varsity has been very helpful,” said freshman Brittany Michael, a novice rower. “After each race you know a little more about rowing.”
Assistant coach Jaclyn Aldworth compared the spring and fall seasons of crew.
“It’s a lot like cross-country and track,” she said. “The fall is a long, steady-paced swing row at lower rates, while the spring is a sprint at a significantly faster pace.”
Drake crew is entering its second year as a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. In a seven-school rowing conference, Drake was extremely proud of its fourth-place finish at the conference championship in New Jersey last spring.
With last year’s strong finish, the team has a lot to live up to. Coach Charlie DiSilvestro outlined one important issue that will determine whether or not the rowers can succeed once again this spring.
“Since we are a young team, the maturity the rowers choose to bring to competition will be a deciding factor,” DiSilvestro said.
Although there are no seniors, junior co-captains Kat Moore and Dietz have certainly established high expectations and a strong support system for the team.
Sophomore Andrea Piekarczyk said crew has definitely made her Drake experience even better.
“Crew was something I started out of curiosity, and I grew to love it,” she said. “The spring season is so fun and the closeness of the team makes me really enjoy all aspects of being part of Drake athletics.”
Many rowers also participate in school activities such as Campus Fellowship, professional fraternities and the Student Activities Board. The crew is just like the rest of the student body and strongly encourages others to give it a try.
Provided that work on the bridges above the Des Moines River is completed in a timely manner, the team’s persistence and dedication will be tested this Saturday against Creighton.
Photos: Monica Worsley