It’s 7 a.m. and the water is smooth as ice. Four girls climb into their shell, muscles tired after a seemingly short night of sleep, lock in their oars and begin to row. As they move in unison, the boat lifts out of the water and begins to hum. Slowly at first, then with more precision and speed, following the lead of their coxswain, comfortable knowing she is the brain and they are the machines. A rhythm is set and the boat slices through the water.
This is the dedication displayed by HPU’s new club rowing team, which boasts a team title and several first place crews. With more than 45 rowers, male and female, the team is thriving.
Sophomore captains Sophia Andreatos and Katelyn Schultz established the team and know the dedication, commitment and patience it takes to start a team. They also know what they put in is what they get out of it. The rowers spend anywhere from 11 to 17 hours a week training on land and on the water at Oak Hollow Lake.
With the addition of Cory Conzemius, head coach, the team is growing quickly and the winter will be used as a recruiting season. Rowing has been a major part of Conzemius’ life since 2005. He has coached at the high school and collegiate level, while working with adult rowers as well. He is pleased with the team and has high hopes for their future. Winning, yes, but developing their passion for the sport and building self-confidence through the spring is the most important. His experience and passion serves the rowers well.
“The spring looks to be very promising as the team continues to set the culture of HPU rowing,” says Conzemius. “With the dedicated and driven athletes, the team has high goals and will push each other to be the best they can be. I aim to help each athlete achieve their individual goals, and that’s the biggest thing that can be achieved going into the spring.”
Rowing is considered the ultimate team sport that is built off of technical precision, cardiovascular strength and fitness and combined with mental preparedness. Contrary to popular belief, rowing is more about leg strength than arm strength, so practices include weightlifting, cycling and running as well as actual rowing.
“My favorite thing about rowing is the way the sport pushes you as an athlete,” says Andreatos. “Other sports I have done focus a lot on the individual, what position you play, what you contribute to the team, what you can do to be better. With rowing, it is all about your team or your specific boat. In other sports, as an individual, you can give up and your teammates can pick up your slack, but in rowing there is no stopping. You can’t give up, you have to push through, and if you don’t, then you get hit in the face with your oar.”
There is very little break for rowers. The fall is technical work and endurance-specific training while serving as the introductory-season for all new rowers; winter is training; spring is championship season with 2,000 meter races; and the summer is their break.
The team traveled to Davidson, N.C. and Chattanooga, T.N. in the pre-season where they were very successful and will travel more in the spring. Although Andreatos and Schultz have been rowing since high school, the majority of the rowers have not had any previous experience rowing. For many, their first time touching an oar was in September, making their victories something to be proud of.
“I personally am so proud of every single person on the team because they have all worked so hard to come as far as they have,” says Schultz. “Without their level of dedication to the team, the accomplishments we have had would not have been possible.”