|Q: Most of us know
little about crew except that very strong people move amazingly fast in
tandem in a thin boat and look like water spiders dancing on the surface.
Would you mind briefly defining the sport?
A: Rowing can be done competitively or recreationally. Most of the
rowing taking place out of Wesleyan's Macomber Boathouse is done with
collegiate competition in mind. We race in eights and fours. In “eights”
there are eight rowers, each with one oar, plus the coxswain, the person who
steers and commands the crew, the same is true of the four, it just has
Q: Are there different ways to row?
A: "Sweep" rowing is in reference to rowing with both hands
on one oar, as a port
or starboard oarsperson. In the fall the physical education curriculum
offers a sculling class. Sculling is done with a similar oar just smaller in
size, with one oar in each hand in singles, doubles or quads.
Q: What is the distance the crews race in their competitive season,
and how long does the race take?
A: Weather and water related conditions as well as skill, strength and
fitness dictate the time it takes to cover the 2,000-meter distance where
two to six crews race head to head in one of six lanes. Women's Division III
first Varsity Crews often post a time between 6:40 and 7:00 on a
2,000-meter race course. In a strong headwind the crew that goes 6:40 on
flat water could take 7:50 in a strong headwind. Elite women's crews racing
in the Olympics can cover that distance in under 6:00 minutes.
Q: Crew spans two seasons?
A: Spring is the traditional 2,000-meter collegiate racing season.
Our early season races have two to five teams competing. When we get to our
championships at the end of the season 12 to 24 crews might be part of the
regatta, so there are morning heats and in the afternoon--third level,
petite and grand final. In the fall we have our "non-traditional" season and
race against the clock in head-style races over a distance of 2 to 3 miles.
There can be anywhere from 10-45 entries, racing over the same course
starting at 10-15 second intervals where faster crews are afforded the
shortest distance between to points as the slower crews are required to give
way on the turns that are present in most head courses.
Q: Tell me about a typical crew practice. Where do you meet and how do the
A: When we are "in-season,” we meet at the Macomber Boathouse a mile
from campus on the Connecticut River. Water time is limited by the rules we
follow and the weather, so we try to train on the water to develop our
rowing skills whenever possible. Fog, high water and wind can force us off
the water, so we do a “land” workout instead. Land workouts can be a
combination of rowing ergometer training, running, weightlifting and body
circuits plus a host of other activities that build muscular endurance,
fitness and core body strength. When the team is out of season the athletes
will keep themselves in shape with the same type of land workouts.
Q: Physically and mentally, what makes an ideal crew member?
A: An appetite for demanding physical training coupled with the ability and
desire to push mentally through what the body sometimes perceives as pain
when pushing the muscles, respiratory and pulmonary systems to and through
the limits of its capability. A tall, lean, powerful, supple body helps, as
does a commitment to teamwork and training in the off season all of which
comes packaged with a winning attitude.
Q: What do you think about your team this year?
A: We have a young team of dedicated oarswomen who work hard everyday to
make themselves better athletes and rowers. I look forward to helping them
reach their personal goals, and their goals as a team this year and over the
course of their rowing careers at Wesleyan. They have tremendous potential
in the novice eight and varsity four to finish the season strong.
Q: What classes do you teach, or have you taught, as an adjunct professor?
A: I have taught a lot of swimming classes. The beginning swimming class is
rewarding and usually a fun group to work with. Of course I enjoy being on
the water and teaching the sculling class, though we can only teach that
class in the fall, as the water is usually too cold, and moving too fast to
teach it in the spring. The singles can flip pretty easily.
Q: What is your interest in rowing and the environment, which was the topic
of your article published in American Rowing Magazine in 1995?
A: The water we row on is our playing field, and I believe we have an obligation to take care of that
field, to be stewards of sorts, as well as to learn something about the
lakes and rivers we race and practice on. I've rowed in a few places like
the Los Angeles harbor, and the Piscataway River in New Jersey, where the
water was so polluted it took much of the pleasure away from being on the
water. I'd like to do more for the river. My current commitment, started
with the team this last year which also serves as a community service
project for the team is to participate in the annual Connecticut River
Cleanup Day held each fall. I've also taken to pestering my coaching
colleagues north and south along the river to have their teams join in.
Q: Where did you coach prior to Wesleyan?
A: My first year of coaching was at Syracuse University followed by a year at
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and four years at Northeastern
where I had earned my undergraduate degree in physical education.
Q: You're a former member of the National
Collegiate Rowing Committee and the U.S. Rowing's Junior Women's Rowing
Committee, and you're ending a six-year term with the NCAA Division III
Women's Rowing Championship Committee this year. Why do you get involved in
these committees and why are they important to you?
A: I think most of us who coach give back to "our" organizations, we
are what we make of them. I see it as part of my professional responsibility
to contribute what and when I can. They are great opportunities for
professional development and networking with others throughout the country.
What I have learned serving on these committees is invaluable, and as I am
now becoming aged with knowledge I am happy to share with younger coaches
what I have learned in my 25 or so years of coaching. I consider it a great
honor to have served, and to have been selected among my peers for a six
year term on the the inaugural NCAA Division III Women's Rowing Championship
Committee where we created the format, and implement the details, and have
overseen the running of one of the newest NCAA Championships.
Q: Tell me about your personal accomplishments as a competitor and coach?
A: When I finished my college rowing career I continued to row with
the aim of making the national team. I made it to the pre-elite level a few
years running and won some races at the US rowing championships. For a
variety of reasons I did not make my goal of being a National team member,
it was however an invaluable experience and additional education towards my
coaching career. On and off over the years I have continued to compete in
Master's Rowing events. My personal accomplishments as a coach might be
measured by many in our win/loss records where we have been very successful
over the years Wesleyan women have also had many crews finish in the top
three at our New England Rowing Championships, and twice have we have earned
a berth at the NCAA Rowing Championships. It is harder to measure the
personal satisfaction and sense of accomplishment I feel when I have been
successful in teaching life lessons learned through rowing, or encouraged
and inspired an athlete to achieve a personal best in ergometer racing, or
simply watched the personal growth, self-awareness and self- assuredness
that comes from the journey of becoming an athlete. Unlike most other sports
rowing is a sport you can learn in college, and we do have individuals who
join the team with little if any prior athletic experience.
Q: Have you ever tipped over?
A: These are things that you try to forget. But when I was training
hard in Boston on the Charles River and just learning to scull, I flipped in
front the Harvard men's boathouse. It was not so much the men on the dock
watching me flip that was embarrassing, but that the premier woman sculler
at the time happened to be training too, and was standing on the dock
watching as I so ungracefully flipped the boat and had to just as
ungracefully get myself back in.
Q: What are your favorite “on land” activities?
A: Owning my own home, and recently sharing it with a gardener has
not turned me into a green thumb yet, but I'm working towards it, and really
enjoy learning about the plants, and creating a small colorful garden with
plenty of catnip for our cat, Mimi, to play in. I'm also working towards my
black-belt in aikido. When we are not in the garden in the summer we are on
our bikes, or out hiking, and traveling to visit family and friends, while
keeping an eye out for a good folk or jazz concert to attend.