The rain that dusted Lake Samish wasn’t enough to stop the Western women’s crew fans from belting out cheers of praise and encouragement as their water-bound warriors fought against the waves.
Although the Vikings finished second behind Central Oklahoma University in its three races on Saturday, April 23, the rowers didn’t let that phase them. Instead of sulking, members of the team decided to have a little fun, jumping off the dock and into the lake.
Head Coach John Fuchs understands that this is part of what makes the team dynamic so strong.
“It’s about being involved in something that’s bigger than they are, all while being competitive and having fun,” Fuchs said.
Competition is a big part of the team’s nature. Rowers fight for good seats in each boat. Senior Kristin Foster, who rowed in the two-seat of the varsity-eight boat in Saturday’s race said this year has been particularly competitive.
“It’s friendly competition to get into a top boat, but it’s been really good for us,” Foster said.
After settling into their respective roles, the rowers become more supportive of each other. Junior Emily Bartlett said the pursuit of personal glory on the water actually translates to a better team performance overall.
“Crew takes up so much time that even when we aren’t competing, we’re still with each other. It makes it easy to build and maintain these friendships.”
Sophomore Chloe Burns
“A lot of the time there will be teams where everyone competes for themselves,” Bartlett said. “Here we are definitely self-motivated, but we’re self-motivated in a way that brings the team up as a whole.”
This type of dynamic has certainly benefited the team. The Vikings are currently ranked second in the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association/US Rowing Coaches National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II poll.
The Vikings understand that being a team means more than just being able to row in unison.
“There’s a spirit of on-the-water performance and off-the-water performance — when we’re on the water, it’s business and competition,” Bartlett said. “When we’re off the water, we’re friends.”
Sophomore Chloe Burns, who raced in the three-seat of the V8 boat, believes that spending time outside of crew with her teammates has made the team stronger.
“We go on hikes and runs; some of us even live together,” Burns said. “Crew takes up so much time that even when we aren’t competing, we’re still with each other. It makes it easy to build and maintain these friendships.”
Even with seniors leaving and freshman entering the team every year, freshman Rachel Dalthorp isn’t worried. She said new rowers will feel welcomed onto the team, much like she was when she joined this past winter as the coxswain for the V8 boat.
“It’s always fun to bring people in and let them know that we’re a team, but we’re also a family,” Dalthorp said. “That’s what makes it work.”
Recovering from their losses, the team is looking forward to taking on Sacramento State University at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships on Saturday, April 30, in Gold River, California.