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Rowing begins conference season

Column by Ashley Beall

Ashley Beall-w2000-h2000These past couple weeks have been a whirlwind.

Drake rowing is officially in our conference season, and it’s been pretty hectic lately.

For spring break our team headed to Tampa, Fla., where we trained at the University of Tampa.

Training trips are pretty exhausting. We had our two-a-day practices and boat meetings at night.

We also made the mistake of not wearing enough sunscreen on the first day, so we all got pretty sunburned.

We were so red that we looked like a bunch of lobsters. It was only a little embarrassing.

This training trip, though, is my favorite.

It’s the time when our team really comes together and we really become a family.

We’re all pretty close, but this trip is a lot of togetherness time.

You really can’t avoid each other, so it forces us to spend basically 24/7 with one another.

I love it because we get to learn so much about each other, and it gives us that edge we need once we start competing.

As a part of a team, you have to be willing to sacrifice your pain and needs for those that are your support system throughout each race.

This trip helps us come together as one.

It wasn’t all great, though. We were getting tense with one another from the exhaustion of practices and there were times that were rough.

We were able to push through it all though and come out on top. We also got pretty good tans.

We finished our last two days of training in De Land, Fla., where we raced Stetson and Jacksonville.

These teams are a part of our conference, and this trip gave us the opportunity to race them to figure out what seed we would be in conference.

We raced three boats, our Varsity Eight boat, the second varsity eight and the Varsity Four boat.

I was stroke seat in the Varsity Four, and I’m going to be honest, I was pretty nervous.

As stroke seat, you set the pace for the rest of the boat, and you have to be in control of the slide the entire time, making sure that the whole boat isn’t rushed and is following you.

However, our hard work from the previous days of training paid off because my boat ended up beating Jacksonville, which was our goal.

Our eight boats showed a strong showing as well and placed second in each of their races.

It was great seeing all of our hard work pay off.

This was the momentum that we needed heading into our race against Kansas, Kansas State and Southern Methodist University this past weekend.

It was a little intimidating facing these three other schools because they are all scholarship programs and recruit the best of the best.

We’re all walk-ons, and most of us didn’t row in high school, so facing these experienced teams is kind of frustrating.

Our boats didn’t win any of our races, and to be honest, the first heat was rough for all of us.

We had to reconvene and remember what we worked on in Tampa and just do the best that we could do.

We ended up looking like a different team in the second heat,

and each of our boats looked stronger throughout the entire race.

So while we might not be the tallest, fastest or strongest team out there, we have the motivation and determination that makes us stand out.

Our second heat showed our competition that we don’t give up.

It’s proof that we’re only going to get stronger and continue to look to each race as a learning experience that helps us get to where we want to be by the end of this season.

Beall is a sophomore public relations and English double major and can be reached at ashley.beall@drake.edu

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