At the beginning of the year, the Drake women’s rowing team sat down together and listed out their goals for the season. Those goals ranged from keeping their GPA above 3.5 to preventing injuries. Jazmynn Good, a sophomore on the rowing team, said that it is all about making sure the team is strong both in and out of the water.
The biggest goal they have is to get three boats to the grand finals at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) championship. Sophomore Gracie Joblinske explained that, last year, the team automatically qualified for regionals, but this year that might not be the case, so the team is determined to perform at a high enough level to qualify yet again.
“We want to earn getting those boats into [the] conference at the grand final,” Joblinske said. “That’s really our biggest goal,working towards that.”
Qualifying for regionals would mean a lot to Joblinske because it would prove that all the training was worth it. While at the conference championship, the team sees a lot of bigger schools whose girls have been rowing for a long time, which isn’t the case at Drake. Joblinske said that the majority of the team is made up of walk-ons. Joblinske said the team’s goal is “just proving that we’re deserving of being there because we are strong.”
“We work very hard. We work just as hard as any other team,” Joblinske said.
Part of qualifying for the conference championship is working on endurance, according to Good. She explained that the team is doing a lot of volume training, one-on-one races and duels to build stamina.
“[We want to push] it each practice, get a little bit faster, each one, so that when we get to [the] conference and we’re racing those three boats, the girls in those boats have the endurance and the speed to compete with everybody else,” Good said.
Another subgoal of the team is reducing injuries. Good and Joblinske said this will help the team achieve all of their other goals too. Good explained how staying healthy means rowers will have more stamina to build off of during races.
“We are trying to work on keeping ourselves healthy, talking to trainers and stuff like that,” Good said.
Taking their goals into the water, the rowing team competed in Head of the Des Moines, their first race of the season. The team walked away with two school records and had six team medals.
With some girls only having been rowing for three weeks, Joblinske explained that the strong start to the season built a strong base of team morale and confidence.
“We were very happy for each other,” Joblinske said. “I think it’s building confidence — the fact that we were able to accomplish that and it’s only been a few weeks that we’ve been back at school. We’re already starting off strong, we can only get better.”
Good and Joblinske attribute the kickoff victory to how determined the team was to stay healthy during the summer, as it allowed them to return in peak condition.
“We were so intentional and dedicated through the summer that we were able to come back pretty equal with how we left,” Good said.
Overall, the team believes everything went as well as it could have during their first race, according to Joblinske. However, they are still looking towards the conference championship and striving to improve by focusing on their goals.
“We like to aim high with our goals, but after the Head of the Des Moines, we know they are more than attainable,” sophomore Allyson Afrank said. “With championships a ways away, we still have a lot of room to grow, and we’re starting higher than we did last year. We’re very excited to move forward.”
Good and Joblinske said that rowing is a mental sport — one has to be extremely disciplined and willing to push oneself. It is important that everyone knows the girl next to them is working just as hard as they are because everyone is doing it for one another, you each want each other to succeed, Good said.
“I’m gonna pull for you, and you’re gonna pull for me,” Joblinske said.
Good, Joblinske and Afrank all joined rowing to find a community at Drake. Through hard workouts and early practices, it is the team that keeps them going. Joblinske said they are lifelong friends, and Good said they are the biggest reason she came back for her sophomore season.
“It’s so important, especially in women’s sports, to have good support systems, especially the coaches also being a support system,” Good said. “I am also a competitive person, so I love to compete. I love that we’re always striving for something, but it’s not in a negative manner. We’re always working together towards a goal.”
Joblinske said that there is a sense of accomplishment that comes with being on the rowing team — after a hard workout, it feels good to know that she completed it and gave it her all. Afrank said she feels honored to come to practice every morning and work hard alongside other strong women who inspire her.
“Rowing is one hundred percent worth the early mornings, but it’s not easy work,” Afrank said. “You’re often pushing your body to its limits and you’ll be perfecting your technique for years, but there is nothing better than finishing a row and knowing what you accomplished. The benefits have been endless: Rowing has built my discipline, strength, focus and so much more. I’m always encouraging people to try it out, even if only for a week. Everyone is welcomed in with open arms.”