The Drake University rowing team is eager to compete in the first race of the season on April 10 after not being able to compete the previous year due to the pandemic.
“With last year’s spring season getting cancelled just as it was about to start and our fall season also getting cancelled, most of our team hasn’t gotten the chance to race yet,” said Charles DiSilvestro, the head coach of the Drake rowing team. “Through it all our team has stayed strong and come together very well.”
Kate Desmond, a first-year student majoring in business studies and a member of the Drake rowing team, is excited to experience racing for the first time.
“I’m excited to just get to go and travel with my team and get to do all the fun stuff relating to that,” Desmond said. “I am excited also to go to the competitions to see what it’s really like to race and to push that hard and to have a lot of our hard work pay off.”
Hedera Belmond, a first-year student majoring in writing and a member of the rowing team, said her favorite part about rowing is when everyone in the boat is in sync and they are rowing at a fast speed; it is satisfying when everyone is working together in that moment.
Due to COVID-19, the rowing season has been challenging for the coaches and team members.
“Making sure we have face coverings at all times, adapting to the changes COVID brought, not being able to practice and race together have been the biggest challenges to our team,” DiSilvestro said.
The members of the team were unable to get the training they needed when quarantine occurred at the start of the pandemic last year.
“A lot of us weren’t able to get the actual training that we usually get, so it was definitely like a learning curve getting back into the swing of things,” said Lindsay York, a sophomore majoring in zoo and conservation science and a member of the rowing team.
The rowing team has also had to alter practice times.
“One of the challenges that I know the coaches have is that we have to get screened for COVID before every practice, which is just filling out a basic questionnaire and getting a wrist band, but that means we need people to screen us,” Desmond said. “And so that means we haven’t been able to start practice as early as they have in past years.”
Staying physically active is important during the pandemic, according to DiSilvestro.
“When everyone was quarantined in their homes it was difficult to keep active,” DiSilvestro said. “Once the quarantine was lifted it allowed the athletes to get back to working out, which helped them physically and mentally.”
York has high hopes for the season.
“I would really love if we could win conference and go to the finals,” York said. “I think that would be really fun and an awesome time if we could actually do that because we haven’t done it in several years.”
Rowing has given its members a sense of community during a time of uncertainty.
“Me going into school instantly having a group of people that I can talk to and I can become friends with, that’s been really nice,” Belmond said. “It keeps a sense of community in a time when that’s really important.”