Photo from Drake Athletics
Senior crew captain Kat Moore has always strived to challenge herself. While in high school, not only was she a cheerleader, but she also took advanced classes.
But when she got the postcard from Coach Charlie DiSilvestro inviting her to join the rowing team upon entrance to her first year at Drake University, she was ready to push herself in a new arena.
“It was a transition, but it was kind of expected. We are a D-I sport, so going into it, I knew it was definitely going to be different,” Moore said.
If the physical hurdles weren’t enough of a change, the new sleep schedule would top it off.
Moore says that she, along with most other rowers, typically rise at 5:20 a.m. in order to meet at the Bell Center at 5:45 a.m. for their carpool to the Birdland Marina in Des Moines.
She and her teammates do this every day, with the exception of Sunday. On Saturday, they are granted an extra two hours of sleep and meet instead at 7:45 a.m.
Moore usually hits the hay at 10:30 p.m. or 11 p.m., but says that other rowers sometimes push it to 12 a.m. or 1 a.m. if they are cramming for tests.
Typical workouts on the water usually last from 6:05 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. — ending just in time for 8 a.m. classes — and consist of various drills with the four and eight-rower boats, which are primarily used in the more competitive 2K spring season. Indoor winter workouts are spent mostly on the ergometers and the treadmill. The team also lifts weights every Tuesday and Thursday in addition to their morning workouts.
“It’s definitely a time commitment,” Moore said. “It’s something I love and it’s something I’ve done all four years, but taking a full load of credits and working and rowing…it’s a lot. It gets to you — especially when you get up so early, it’s always hard to stay up late and do stuff.”
The feeling that accompanies the rowers as they cross the finish line makes all of their sacrifices, hard work and extreme exhaustion worth it.
“There’s a sense of gratification,” Moore said, “a sense of contentedness. There is a lot of buildup to the races that we row. We practice every day so that we will win, and coming across the finish line is like our ‘All right, we did it.’”
For Moore, though, the most nerve-wracking part of the race is before it has even begun — at the starting line.
“There’s kind of this calm before the storm, where you know it’s coming, but you have this time between now and then to mentally prepare,” Moore said.
Moore became captain last year after speaking with DiSilvestro about her future plans for the team.
“I saw changes I wanted to make and saw a general vision about where I wanted to go,” Moore said. “[Coach DiSilvestro] agreed.”
One of the major changes Moore incorporated in the fall was mandating two additional workout times each week in order to improve strength and endurance in the team as a whole.
“It’s definitely a lot, but we were at a tipping point,” Moore said. “We definitely had the potential to improve if the girls put in the effort.”
This spring, Moore and the crew hope to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference outright. In 2010, the crew was one point away from third and last season the meet was completely cancelled due to turbulent weather. The conference championship is held in Princeton, N.J.
Sixteen underclassmen and seven upperclassmen constitute this year’s team. However, according to senior rower Brittney Smith, newcomers are not a problem.
“For a lot of the team, nobody has ever rowed before,” Smith said. “When you’re first starting out, you’re all in the same boat — literally.”
Rowing is not anything like basketball or football, but according to both Smith and Moore, it’s the most team-oriented sport out there.
“You have to follow the person in front of you in order to be fast. Not only are you working together as rowers, but you also have to work with your coxswain, because while she’s steering you, you’re also pulling her,” Moore said.
Moore says that there is a lot more internal competition on this year’s team — but in a good way. It has helped strengthen bonds on the team.
“It’s nice this year that we have a higher level of competition, but healthy competition to constantly get better and push our boats,” Moore said. “I think we’ve improved on that since last year.”
As for her personal goals, Moore hopes to bring home some medals from the Dad Vail Championship in Philadelphia, Pa., a popular tournament in the United States that usually attracts up to 140 teams, Moore said.
For Moore and her fellow seniors, it will mark the last meet of their four years’ worth of dedication and hard work.
But it won’t be the end of rowing in Moore’s life. She said that she has learned much from the experiences given to her by being on the team.
“I’ve learned a lot more discipline,” Moore said. “In order to be on the rowing team, you definitely have to time-manage a lot. It’s also affected my work ethic and has definitely improved that. You just have to have a lot of persistence with rowing.”