Gently down the stream
Early morning practices are a part of the puzzle for a close-knit women’s rowing team looking for a trip to nationals.
Western is currently ranked first in NCAA Division II and has won all nine of its races this season.
The Vikings have been dominant with John Fuchs as their coach. From 2005-2011, the team won seven consecutive NCAA Division II Championships.
“I feel like I have a huge support system for anything I do. You start to get a family feel.”
When women try out for the rowing team, Fuchs has certain characteristics in mind.
“We are looking for fit athletes,” Fuchs said. “We like self-starters and kids who are willing to work hard on their own.”
The team has two practices in a day. One in the morning, and one on their own in the afternoon. The morning practice is from 5 to 7 a.m., where the team is on Lake Samish rowing. The practice in the afternoon is an hour of cross-training, Fuchs said.
Burns said these practices bring out the competitiveness in the team, as each crew member competes with one another to earn a coveted varsity spot.
“Every day at practice is competitive,” junior Chloe Burns said. “You are always trying to prove yourself and move up to the better boat.”
Junior Giselle Kiraly sees these practices as a positive thing.
“When you are in a boat it takes eight people and one coxswain to row a boat,” Kiraly said. “If you aren’t motivated or don’t feel like you want to row, then you’re not going to make the boat go fast.”
Burns said a close-knit team has formed from this competitive environment.
“We are all super close,” Burns said. “A lot of us live together and we spend most of our time together.”
For Kiraly, the team is full of people she can rely on.
“I feel like I have a huge support system for anything I do,” Kiraly said. “You start to get a family feel.”
A team with more experience makes this year’s team different than ones in the past, Fuchs said.
“Overall, we are deeper,” Fuchs said. “We got more kids working hard, and we can go deep into the squad.”
The team ranked number one in the country has high expectations for the remainder of its season, as the Vikings are looking ahead and aiming for a trip to nationals.
“My goal is to go to nationals and do well,” Burns said. “If we can compete with those schools and go for first, that is the ultimate goal.”
Fuchs is more concerned about getting the best out of the rowers.
“We would like to qualify for NCAA [nationals], which is a very realistic goal,” Fuchs said. “After that, it’s working as hard as we can, and doing the best we can.”
The Vikings next race will be Saturday, April 15 on Dexter Lake in Lowell, Oregon .
The NCAA Division II Championships will be held May 26-May 28 in West Windsor, New Jersey.