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  • Happy Father's Day! (Part 2)

    To celebrate Father’s Day, today's post is Part 2 from Starboard side and coxswain.  Here are the three questions that were posed to the women at the national team training center. 

    1. How has your father been involved in your athletic life?

    2. What is you favorite and/or funniest father athletic memory? 

    3. Any inspirational quotes or sayings from your father?

    Below are their answers complete with a favorite photo of the athlete and her dad.


    Vicky Opitz

    1.  My Dad has been involved in every aspect of my athletic life.  From being my first youth soccer coach, Dad taxi service, ball passer to work on jump shots, to tennis partner, and number one fan!  He has always been extremely supportive.  Putting up with my sports highs and lows and encouraging me to follow my athletic dreams.

    2.  It is hard to pick a favorite and/or funny memory.  The memories that stand out to me the most are just blasting music really loud through the whole house (early on Jock Jams) to wake up to early in the morning on the day of competition.  This musical sequence would carry on into the car with a pump up speech given while "Eye of the Tiger" was being played in the background.  It was a perfect balance of serious advice with fun undertone.  To this day some of the early morning music dad played is on my ipod mix to get me pumped up to race.

    3.  My Dad has two quotes…“Do or do not, there is no try” – Yoda (always said in Yoda voice) and the other “We (both parents) love and support you.”  The last is always the most important to me.  No matter what I am going through both parents are always there no matter what.


    Grace Luczak

    1.  Motown & Oldies from my dad's Jukebox have had a long lasting impact on my athletic musical taste. Now all of my teammates can benefit with a little Aretha Franklin for warm-ups. "R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Sock it to me, sock it to me."

    2.  My dad teaching me how to do a hook - shot at our neighborhood basketball court. We spent what seemed like hours going over the minutia of this game changing weapon to the post arsenal.  Just when I thought I had it down, my Uncle Todd swooped in from the sidelines with a major block. Dad's are there to build you up & uncle's keep you in check.

    3. "If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself." -Henry Ford & my dad


    Amanda Polk

    1. When I was 5, my Dad was the coach of my very first athletic team, Soccer.  I loved having my Dad at every practice and game and knowing that he was leading my team to VICTORY...and sometimes to get ice cream, when games did not quite go our way (still a win in my mind)!   The only thing I had a hard time understanding was why I was always the goalie.  It was a coed team and I felt I could contribute more by playing the field, but I never questioned him. Eventually, I realized my Dad was doing what was best for the team.  I was the BIGGEST one on the team...I guess he thought there was a good chance I would block it...yup, did I mention it was Co-ed?!

    (2nd story that fits picture)

    Basketball was the sport that my Dad and I really bonded over.  I played from third grade to a senior in high school.  He and I spent countless hours in the backyard working on post moves, boxing out, free throws and layup after layup.  He played in a league himself and so we often fed off one another through the drills. For every away game he drove me to, my Dad and I listened to the song “Jump” by Van Halen.  As we sang the lyrics together,“Oh can’t you see what I mean? Might as well jump. Jump! Go ahead, jump. Jump!”  He would pump me up, commentating on how strong I would be boxing out the other team, rebounding and breaking away down the court, executing the “up and under” post move.  In that song I was unstoppable!  In that song, my Dad was my confidence and my strength.

     2. When I was a sophomore in high school, my novice four qualified for nationals in Oakridge, TN.  We traveled eight hours one way with our four boat shell on top of my teammate’s Dad’s Suburban, with my Dad as his co-pilot and five high school girls in the back.  A couple hours into the trip, we quickly took a study break and were admiring the “cool” elastic spandex fabric leopard printed book covers that my teammate had on her books.  My Dad asked to see one of them, so she took it off her book and handed it to him.  He looked at the book cover and then placed it on his head, looking like he just grew a mullet with cat ears.  We all started cracking up and quickly grabbed a few more covers to copy my Dad’s new fashion statement.  Once all seven of us had a book cover on our head, one of our favorite songs came on, “500 miles” and instead of singing “walk 500 miles,” we sang “ROW 500 miles”.  We drove for hours with this new look, all seven of us had a different vibrant color or printed “cat mullet”, and sang that song a million times if not more...let’s just say that the looks that we got while passing other cars were priceless.

    3.  As we warmed up on the water before every race, my Dad would find my boat and yell, “OPEN A BIG CAN OF WHOOP ASS!” as he gestured opening a large can of soda.

    Susan Francia

    1.  My dad was always very supportive as I grew up trying out different sports.  In high school I had banned my mother from coming to my basketball games because her loud cheering and coaching were embarrassing me, so my dad came in her spot.  During the games he just clapped and afterwards told me I did a good job (no matter how badly I played!).

    2.  My dad was always challenging me to athletic competitions but he always won the pull up competition and could swim the length of the pool in one breath. I'm still training to beat him at those things!

    3.  Regarding rowing as a career... "This is all just fun and games" 


    Kendall Schmidt

    1.  I am the only person in my family to ever try rowing.  We are primarily a soccer family.  My Dad also went to the University of Wisconsin where he was a goalie on the Men's soccer team.  However, more impressively, he still competitively plays today at age 53 (hope this doesn't embarrass you Dad).  He introduced my older brother and I to soccer each at about age 5 which we both immediately fell in love with it.  He was an assistant coach on my select team as well as my high school team while growing up.  That meant that he was on the sideline of most of my games.  I loved having my Dad as a coach because he was honest.  Whether I was playing great or terrible, he was going to tell me the truth.  He also taught me to be tough, to be scrappy, and to always get back up when you fall.  

    2.  One of my favorite memories of my Dad is from one of the many indoor games I came to watch him play at.  I would always sit right behind the net of which ever goal he was defending during the game and talk to him.  I still don't know how he handled me as a distraction.  Anyway, at this game I found a friend, another girl my age who's Dad played on the other team.  We sat together behind my Dad's goal and watched the game.  Unfortunately, he wasn't having a good game and had just let an easy goal through.  Before he could catch himself, he began using a list of explicit words that most kids our age should never repeat.  The other girl was not sure how to react.  Soon after the rant, she pointed out her dad and asked me which one was mine.  I smiled really big and was proud to answer.


    Tessa Gobbo

    1.  My father taught my twin brother and I to skate at a very young (three I think). I remember countless afternoons and nights at the ice rink in the town over, but I cannot remember when we first began going. Skating was just an activity my father enjoyed that he could share with the whole family. 

    My father is not a competitive man, but I am, and skating began to fuel my urge to win at any sporting activity I got involved. I originally went to high school wanting to play ice hockey, but after I found my prep schools rowing team I realized there was new sport I belonged with.


    2.  Before every hockey game my dad would give me the short pep talk to put the puck in the net and to stay out of the box of shame. When I started rowing that pep talk stuck around for a bit, but then he developed a new rowing pep talk, which really underlined the basic race strategy. “Get in front, and then stay and front. If you’re not in front get in front by the finish.”

    I received this pep talk before every high school and college race and still get a Skype call or email with the pep talk when we race abroad or he can’t make it to a race.

    3.  “Put the puck in the net, the biscuit in the basket” –Ken Gobbo



    Jill Carlson

    1.  While my father himself was never much of an athlete, he likes to claim that had he known what rowing was in his youth he would have become a coxswain (in spite of his 6-foot-tall frame).  However, his lack of first hand experience with the sport has never dampened his enthusiasm as he has stood in all winds and weather to watch almost every one of my and my brother's races over the last twelve years.

    2.  In college, my father was known as the guy who would sometimes appear in the bushes on the banks of the Charles, his long lens camera in hand, ready to capture shots of me and my teammates.  Thanks to him, I now have hundreds of photos of the eight women in my boat in action, poised and pulling together... and me glaring straight at him and his camera out of sheer embarrassment.

    3.  My father would always tell me as a kid: "Remember, Jill, no one ever remembers who comes in second place." Although he tried to rescind this statement when my crews got second at junior nationals... and Eastern Sprints... and the Head of the Charles...!



    Katelin Snyder

    1.  My dad is the reason I started rowing.  I broke my leg (twice) playing soccer, so I decided to try a new sport.  When we were looking at the list of sports at my high school, he saw rowing and said "no way, you can't do that... it would be way too hard for you".  So I did it, obviously... and am still proving him wrong to this day!!

    2. I've had a lot of arguments about rowing with my dad - like he thinks he knows which teams have the best coaches, and all the history and tradition behind every program, and he pretends like he knows all the NCAA rules... but really he is just going off a hunch and really has no idea what rowing is. 

    3. "don't have any boyfriends until you've graduated college" 



    Thank you to all the athletes and their father's for sharing such great memories and photos.  Happy Father's Day to all Dads out there.

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  • Happy Father's Day! (Part 1)

    For the athletes at the training center our parents play a huge role in our journey toward the 2016 Rio Olympics. With Father’s Day this weekend many of women’s team have been reflecting on Dad with the love, support, and humor they have (and continue) to give in forming our athletic selves. 

    To celebrate Father’s Day, three questions were posed to the women at the national team training center. 

    • 1. How has your father been involved in your athletic life?
    • 2. What is you favorite and/or funniest father athletic memory? 
    • 3. Any inspirational quotes or sayings from your father?

    Many women responded so, Part 1 of the Father’s Day post will be from Port side.  Below are their answers complete with a favorite photo of the athlete and her dad.

    Kerry Simmonds

    1. My Dad has always supported my athletic endeavors. From being my basketball mentor to one of my biggest rowing fans. What I appreciate about my Dad is that not only has he helped support my rowing aspirations financially and emotionally, but he has also made an effort to learn about rowing. By keeping up to date with rowing photos/results, reading online blogs and watching races, he has become a passionate supporter of rowing and has also come to understand the significance of certain goals that I have reached or aspire to reach. His genuine interest in learning about a sport I am so passionate about has meant a lot to me. 

    2. Looking back, one of my favorite “dad-daughter athletic memories” are the drives home with my Dad from my high school basketball games. Just him and I going over the game together. Sometimes it’s the little things :-)

    3. I can’t say I remember any specific quotes from my Dad, but I will say he was always very good about keeping things in perspective and approaching games/races with a healthy mindset. He would help in reminding me that my best was good enough and that giving your best is what makes the sport fun. At the end of the day, win or lose it was not the end of the world nor should it be. Thanks Dad. 


    Meghan Musnicki

    1. My dad was always involved in my athletic life.  He never missed a game and was often, much to my chagrin, the LOUDEST one in the stands. He took me to the field and kicked the soccer ball around with me, he was my rebounder in the driveway while I practiced my jump shot, and he funded numerous sports camps.  Dad was always there and always willing to help.

    2. My favorite memory would have to be when dad came up to the St. Lawrence river and watched me row in my first race for St. Lawrence University.  It was FREEZING cold, the water was hanging in icicles off our riggers.  Never mind that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and I probably caught 3 crabs, I made the Varsity 8 (ok so there were only 8 of us) and dad was there on shore cheering me on.  The reason this is my favorite sporting memory with my dad is because that would be the only time my dad every saw me row as he passed away later that year.   

      3.  When things were tough Dad always used to say "Keep on keeping on".  Pretty simple but when you are struggling and feel like you aren't going anywhere and it seems like it would be easier to just stop-don't. Work through it and come out the other side in a better place.  Oh, another one of my personal favorites, "yes, princess".  Seemed to always work out well for me when he said that! 


    Adrienne Martelli

    1. My dad has been a pretty big part of my sports career. When I was younger, he would always be willing to shoot hoops in the driveway or throw the softball around in the backyard, whatever help I needed to improve my skill set. If I ever wanted to do some type of camp, he encouraged me to pursue it. As I progressed into rowing (not so easily practiced at home), he has been a constant supporter and a voice of reason during tough times. 

    2. One of my favorite father sports stories comes from the 2012 Olympics. We were just starting our warm-up when I glanced towards the backside of the grandstands and saw my dad. He gave me a brief smile and a small thumbs-up that brought a certain sense of calm.

    3. Sports quotes are somewhat of a running joke in my family. Both my parents are big golfers so if we happen to be watching a tournament on TV, at some point there is usually a volley of "Drive for show, putt for dough," "Never up, never in," "No guts, no glory," finished off with a "Winners never quit and quitters never win."


    Felice Mueller

    1. My dad has always encouraged us to be active. He set a precedent for athletics in our lives by staying fit and involved in competition himself, showing us by example that it was important to prioritize athletic endeavors when possible. He would bring us along with him to play golf, tennis, run, ski, swim... as well as sign us up for countless lessons and camps. Unfortunately, it took all three kids a while to appreciate the value of athletics and we ended up spending the majority of the time we should have been learning new, exciting sports messing around. I recall one beautiful day my dad took us all golfing, and after about four holes of golf our attentions were maxed out, so we drove the golf cart into a sand pit. However, with time we all began to appreciate active lifestyles, which can no doubt be attributed to the example my dad set.

    2. When I decided I wanted to try out for the Junior National Team, I was strongly encouraged to show up for a 2k at Crash B's. The Junior Team coaches would be there watching and have an informational session on the selection process after the 2k was over. I had no idea what I was in for, but my dad said he would take me and having him there would be comforting. Walking into the event, I was shocked and intimidated by the size and the numbers and all of the people! My dad and I sat in the arena watching the groups before mine pull their 2ks. We saw people falling of ergs and people throwing up on to the ground. There was even a little throw up crew that came around with buckets to clean up the mess, meaning the event coordinator had expected people to throw up after testing. My dad looked over at me and said I didn't have to do it if I didn't want to. But against better judgement I said I did, and soon enough I was warming up on an erg with my dad sitting behind me ready to "cox" me through my race. I don't remember what he said during the race but he did mislead me to think I was in first place (I wasn't) and he did tell me not to hurt myself too much(the point of a 2k is to see how hard you can hurt yourself).

    It was by far and away the worst coxing through a 2k test I have ever received, but in the end, thanks to my dad's support, I pulled a time that would get me invited to camp and I made the team.

    3. "Freak of nature" Whenever one of us kids does something extraordinary my dad will use the affectionate term, freak-a-zoid or freak of nature to describe us. I've always liked being called that. It makes me think I can do anything. 


    Olivia Coffey 

    1. Something that sticks out for me is how much time I spent with my dad driving to ice hockey competitions when I was growing up. I played for a team called the Syracuse Stars, which was based two hours away from my home, and competitions were even further away! My dad and I would drive all over the Northeast and Canada together.  During our drives we talked about all sorts of things. I learned a lot about my dad and he taught me a lot as well. Looking back, I can't believe he was ever so willing take me to all of those places but I'm really glad he did because it made us so close.

    2. Whenever I call my dad and tell him my peak power scores he usually calls me back the next day and tells me that he did the same test and beat me. He keeps me in check.

    3. “The good thing about chopping firewood is that it warms you twice.” 


    Emily Regan

    1. When I was younger my dad was usually the one to drive me to all of my swimming practices. He'd stay and watch practice almost every day.  He always had advice for me on my way home, which I never wanted to listen to.  It turns out he was spot on with a lot of the things he would tell me.  It just took me some years of trial by error with different sports to figure out what he was saying was actually really good advice. 

    2. All of the long drives my dad and I would take for swimming competitions when I was younger.  But now, it would be going to the gym with him when I have a chance to make it home.

    3. My dad has so many different things he's told me over time. 



    Caroline Lind

    1. My dad is my personal hero.  His accomplishments in sports and life give me my role model for sports and life.  

    My dad has always been involved.  He and my mother have attended all my games and swim meets when I lived at home.  When I went away to college my parents came up from NC to every single Princeton race except Dartmouth, including other away races.  This involvement and support from my dad has always given me the confidence I need to fight and keep going. 

    2. When I was younger my dad used to take me down to Duke every year to see the Blue White game where the current team scrimmages and then the old timers scrimmage.  My dad and I still go down to Duke basketball games and football games together.  I am proud to complete for the US in international competition and I feel like I am making my father proud every race and every practice!

    Part 2 of Happy Father's Day tomorrow will feature starboard side and coxswain.

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  • Q & A with Olympian Will Daly

    This week, USRowing caught up with Will Daly, seven-time U.S. National Team rower and 2008 Olympian in the lightweight four.  Will has taken the time to answer some questions before his Row to Rio USRowing Training Center Athlete Twitter Chat, Wednesday, June 11 from 1-2 p.m. EDT.

    USRowing: How did you first get introduced to rowing?  What inspires you to continue to train at an elite level?

    Will Daly: I started rowing in high school, my biology teacher freshmen year was also the rowing coach and he invited me down to the boat house to try out rowing.  I started having aspirations to row at the elite level after a coach of mine in college asked if I would be interested in trying out for the under 23 team.

    USR:  What is your favorite part about training?

    WD:  Pushing my limits. Finding that I am able to push myself harder than I ever thought possible is hugely rewarding.

    USR:  If you weren't an elite rowing athlete, what other sport (sports) would you be doing?

    WD:  Honestly I have no idea, I have thought about trying to do a marathon or an iron man triathlon when I am done rowing.

    USR:  What has been your most memorable rowing experience?  

    WD:  Winning the World Championships in 2008 was pretty memorable, also making the A final last year at the World Championships was pretty incredible.  The four hasn't made the A final in a while and it was hugely rewarding to finally accomplish that.

    USR:  What is the best advice you have been given in your rowing career thus far?  What advice would you give to young rowers?

    WD:  Actually I was just talking to Mike Wherley and he said something that I found to be very useful.  Summed up he basically said that no matter how strong you are you need to keep an open mind to changing what you are doing to get faster.  For young rowers I would say the ability to focus and I mean really focus on every aspect of every stroke through an entire practice will pay greater dividends in the long run than you can imagine.  It took me a long time to figure this out, but once I did I started improving much more quickly.

    USR:  What are you looking forward to in the 2014 racing season?

    WD:  Racing.  I am really excited about our boat this year.  With three returning members and one new one we have shown some really exciting speed in practice and are looking forward to testing ourselves internationally.

    USR:  Thank you Will!  Will is ready to answer your tough questions.  Join in for the #RowToRioChat with Will on Wednesday, June, 11, 1-2 p.m. EDT.   During the live chat, be sure to follow and send your questions directly to Will Daly at (@willrowdaly) and (@USRowing) using hashtag #rowtoriochat.

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  • Howell Living Farm - Hometown Teams Exhibit

    Last weekend our training schedule opened up to allow for our first real Sunday off in a couple of weeks. A few of us training center athletes were given the opportunity to attend a reception to highlight rowing as part of the Smithsonian’s Hometown Teams - How Sports Shape America traveling exhibition. This exhibit brings into focus the influence of sports on hometowns. New Jersey is the first state that the exhibit is visiting and the farm is one of six spots that it will be on display. The exhibit features photographs, artifacts and memorabilia that tell the stories of the hometown teams and the communities that shape and are shaped by sports.

    Arriving early before the reception began Emily Huelskamp- 2013 World Champion in the women’s four without coxin, Adrienne Martelli - 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in the women’s quadruple sculls, and myself were able to take a tour of Howell Living Farm. Howell Living Farm is part of the Mercer County Park system, and is operated and maintained as it was in the 1890s. Walking around the farm you were able to get a glimpse of what life was like at the turn of the century. A favorite of Adrienne and Emily’s trip was getting to see all the farm animals, especially the sheep and their energetic lambs.

    After our tour of the Farm, we were joined by Grant and Ross James, 2012 Olympians in the men’s eight, and Barb and Kris Grudt from the Princeton National Rowing Association to give a brief Q&A about rowing in the local community and how sports have shaped our lives.



    It was a really great opportunity to share with the community a little about being U.S. National Team Training Center athlete and to see this fun Smithsonian traveling exhibit. I recommend taking a trip to the Howell Living Farm, not only to experience the farm’s past but also to check out a fun and interactive exhibit that all ages will enjoy. Interested in going? Hometown Teams - How Sports Shape America is on display in the Charles Fish barn at the farm's Visitor Center through June 22 during the farm's regular operating hours. 


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  • Q&A with Paralympian Andrew Johnson

     

    This week, USRowing caught up with Andrew Johnson, five-time U.S. National Team rower and 2012 Paralympian in the legs, trunk and arms four with coxswain.  Andrew has taken the time to answer some questions before his Row to Rio USRowing Training Center Athlete Twitter Chat tomorrow, Wednesday, May 14 from 1-2 p.m. EDT.

    USRowing:  How did you first get introduced to rowing?  What inspires you to continue to train at an elite level?

    Andrew Johnson:  I always wanted to play sports, but struggled to find one I could do with my sighted friends. Someone recommended rowing to me when I started high school, and I loved it. In rowing I found a sport where my blindness was irrelevant. My team didn't care if I could see or not, all that mattered was whether I could pull. I'm still rowing because I love the purity, inclusiveness and straight up fun of being on the water with blades in hand. I continue training at the elite level because I still have something to prove on the racecourse. I love waking up every day with a simple, measurable and achievable goal: to be faster than I was the day before.

    USR:  You have trained in a couple of different locations, where are you training right now?  Do you have a favorite place to train?

    AJ:  I currently train at Community Rowing in Boston. It's a great club and I love their mission and the great people I work and train with there, not to mention getting to row on the Charles. But I think the coolest place I've ever trained at is definitely the OTC in Chula Vista. Hardly any cars, no extraneous river traffic, and southern Cali weather...it was very easy to get used to being there.

    USR:  It says in your bio that you play the saxophone, what is your go to saxophone song to play?

    AJ:  Oh man, I haven't touched a saxophone in ages. I used to play this huge version called a Bari (Baritone) sax that got this deep powerful sound. When I wasn't doing the classical stuff I used to play like, stupid pop music but it would sound way cooler in the lower register.

    USR:  What has been your most memorable rowing experience?

    AJ:  I wish I could say my most memorable rowing experience was competing in London, and that whole week will stay with me forever. But my favorite unforgettable moment of my rowing career was getting cut off when I was coming into the dock in a 1x and the guy yelling over to me, "You should really watch where you're going!"   That still makes me laugh.

    USR:  What is the best advice you have been given in your rowing career thus far?  What advice would you give to young rowers?

    AJ:  Before selection camp 2011, Volp sent me an email that just said: “Keep it simple. Go fast." I really took that to heart, and thought hard about it--maybe harder than he intended.  Sometimes we can get bogged down in the precision and complexity of the sport. It's nice to remember that intense focus comes better with a relaxed, flexible mind and that big complicated things arise from small and simple ones.  I think that's great advice for young rowers, and to that I would just add that there's no substitute in rowing for showing up and putting in the work. And have fun with it!

    USR: What are you looking forward to in the 2014 racing season?

    AJ:  One of the most exciting aspects of para rowing in particular is that every year we see faster times and more competitive finishes across the board. I know here in the U.S. we are working hard to raise the bar, and our competition is out there working up an appetite for racing. I am excited to see how hungry everyone is, and how much farther we can push the envelope.

    USR:  Thank you Andrew!  Have some more burning questions?  Join in for the #RowToRioChat with Andrew tomorrow Wednesday, May 14, 1-2 p.m. EDT.   During the live chat, be sure to follow and send your questions directly to Andrew Johnson (@akjrow) and (@USRowing) using hashtag #rowtoriochat.


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  • Q&A with Cal Olympian Kara Kohler

    This month, USRowing caught up with Kara Kohler, three-time U.S. National Team rower and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in the women’s quadruple sculls, following her trip to Australia for the 2014 World Rowing Cup 1. Kohler and her pair partner, Agatha Nowinski, raced as part of a training group from the University of California and finished sixth overall.


    USRowing: As an experienced senior athlete, what was it like to travel and compete internationally with your college team?

    Kara Kohler: What I enjoyed the most was seeing how my teammates and I responded to the added pressure of performing on an international stage. We definitely went there on a mission to perform to the best of our ability at that point in the season, and I think we got pretty close.

    USR: You raced in two regattas while in Australia. What was it like racing at the Sydney International Rowing Regatta, in addition to World Rowing Cup 1?

    KK: I raced in the women’s open eight, which was one of the four events that we competed in at the regatta. Going into that race, we really had no clue about the speed of the Australian crews we would be lining up against. We felt like we laid down a good race for our season opener and were pleased to walk away that day with a silver medal.

    USR: Not many colleges have the opportunity to race internationally. How did this trip come about for Cal Rowing?

    KK: From what I hear, one of our men’s team coaches took a trip to Australia last season for recruiting purposes and came back to Berkeley with good things to say about SIRR. Dave (O’Neill) then mentioned to us the possibility of competing in Australia over spring break. Whether it mattered or not, the likelihood of the trip eventually became tied to our success at nationals. While it never crossed my mind during the final race at NCAAs last season, it was one of the first things I brought up to Dave post-race. “So Dave…how about that Australia trip!?” Eventually, with the help of some very generous alumni, the trip became a reality.

    USR: How was it balancing travel to Australia/racing and still staying focused on school? (Hopefully not too much work to do while on spring break)

    KK: We knew going in to Australia that it would be treated as a training week with the added bonus of racing. Given that we were only there nine days, we had to adjust quickly and jump right into training. I think all of the excitement of being at an international regatta with your college team made the time adjustment pretty painless. Balancing our school work and training/racing was quite a challenge. Not only did we just want to rest between training sessions, but the Wi-Fi at our accommodations was broken. That, combined with the fear of data roaming charges, made it challenging to do much work. Luckily, we were only a quick drive away from the Penrith Public Library where we spent a good amount of time checking social media accounts and doing homework.

    USR: Did you have a chance to do any sightseeing? What was one of the most fun things you saw or did?

    KK: We didn’t waste any time getting in the sightseeing. We were able to see some of the main attractions in Sydney, such as the Opera House when we first arrived in Australia. This allowed us to quench our thirst for adventure and focus on training for the rest of the week. I had personal goals of seeing a kangaroo and koala bear, and I didn’t see either! I guess I’ll have to go back.

    USR: What was it like to race at the World Cup I? How different does it feel going from racing an eight to a pair?

    KK: Nerve wracking! It was a new experience for both Aggie and I, so we were feeling the same stream of emotions leading up to each race. The only difference for us, really, was that we had a toe and buoys to steer off of.


    USR: What was it like to race at the historic 2000 Olympic Games regatta course? Different than racing at Cal?

    KK: It was cool to finally see and experience it myself after having watched so many races from that Olympic regatta. Having the memory of racing on the Olympic course in London, it was fun to imagine the course in all its glory. Seeing the Olympic rings on the bridge never got old. Was it different than racing at Cal? Every course is unique, but in terms of racing, race day is race day.

    USR: This was your first time racing the pair at the international level, and did you approach racing it any differently than other boats?

    KK: I definitely went through more visualizations than I usually do. Having the added responsibly that comes with a pair was nerve wracking, but at the same time, it was a lot of fun to take on the challenge of a small boat.

    USR: What was the highlight and/or favorite moment of the trip?

    KK: Making the A final in the pair. We were given some strong advice before racing even began, and that was “Don’t lose.” We really took that advice to heart and took some big steps in our level of racing from the heat to the rep. Overall, I really enjoyed going through a new experience with the team and being able to walk away with even more confidence in each others' ability to perform when the stakes are high.

    USR: The 2014 racing season is already in full swing. What are you looking forward to most about this year?

    KK: Racing! I have a very limited number of races left as a college athlete, so I look forward to making the most of them with my teammates. #GOBEARS

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  • #RowToRioChat with @i_silveira

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  • 2014 Chula Vista Camp Wrap-Up

    It is hard to believe three months at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista has gone by. For 16 athletes we spent a quarter of the year eating, sleeping and rowing multiple times a day away from Princeton, N.J. Even with our hard workouts, there was still time to fit in some fun activities to break up the training.

    The family of Kerry Simmonds, world record-holder and 2013 gold medalist in the women’s eight, and a local San Diegan was kind enough to invite the women’s training squad over for a cookout. It is always such a blast to meet teammates’ families. Not only did the Simmons family cook a delicious meal of grilled veggies, salmon, chicken and pie, but also provided great conversation. Thank you again to Kerry and her family for spending time feeding many hungry rowers.

    At the three-weeks-remaining mark, the men’s training squad returned to Chula Vista and hit the ground running. They, too, were able to sneak in a little fun playing team paintball (yes, the coaches played too.) The men’s team even got to have a little friendly scrimmage with our northern neighbors, the Canadian men’s sweep team.

    Susan Francia, two-time Olympic gold medalist in the women’s eight, connected us with a local company, Mamma Chia, who sent a representative to introduce to their products. I was really only familiar with the chia pets and didn’t know that chia seeds are actually a good source of Omega-3s. It is always so fun to meet companies that are interested in what we do and want to educate us on different forms of nutrition that we might otherwise not have known about.

    We put in a lot of good miles at camp and made a lot of good memories. Getting to experience the Sochi Winter Olympics and bonding with many of the permanent residents of the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center made the trip more memorable. Although many of us are going to miss “Taco Tuesdays” and “Brinner” (breakfast for dinner) Wednesdays, it is nice to be back in Princeton. On the horizon, NSR 1 is fast approaching. We are staying focused and getting right back to our home water, now that it is not frozen.

    Vicky Opitz
    @vickyopitz

    *Photo credit Kerry Simmons and Grace Luczak

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  • Meet Vicky Opitz

    My name is Vicky Opitz, from Middleton, Wis., and I have been rowing for seven years. This is my first post as the USRowing Training Center blogger, and I wanted to take a moment to introduce how I came to be a rower at the training center.

    I officially came to rowing in the fall of 2006 as a freshman novice walk-on at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. While I had heard many stories from my family about learning to row, I was truly unprepared to be thrown in a boat. Freshman and sophomore year were spent learning a lot about rowing. Junior year was finally the year I was able to “find” my legs. Going from the second varsity four to the varsity eight was still a jump, but I suddenly understood how to move a boat and to pull better numbers on the erg. Winning the Big Ten Championship was one of my favorite rowing moments and a great way to close out my senior year at Wisconsin.

    I was invited to participate in a 2010 under 23 sculling camp after NCAAs my senior year. I wrapped up my degree requirements and graduated in May of 2011, majoring in Political Science and Communication Arts. The time had come to move on in my pursuit of elite rowing.

    I came to the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, Pa. I was accepted into the elite group at Vesper Boat Club. There, I trained and worked full time in the city. Getting up at 5 a.m. for practice, working 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. as a data analyst for a global clinical trial cost benchmarking company, and then back for a 5:30 p.m. practice. All the while, working a second job on the weekends to make ends meet. I learned a lot while training in Philadelphia. Working full time while training wasn’t always easy, but it made me realize how much I wanted to keep rowing.

    Fast forward to fall of 2012, after competing in the USRowing Fall Speed Order and a tryout camp that followed, I was invited to join the USRowing Training Center in Princeton, N.J.

    My first year at the training center has been a whirlwind, racing in Lucerne at World Cup III and at the world championships in Chungju with amazing teammates.

    True to what my predecessor, Meghan O’Leary, said, I am a foodie, specifically dessert. Besides seeking out new and interesting food to try, I am an avid reader, scrap-booker, and recently have taken up knitting to fill in our down time from training. I am very honored to take over the training center blog from O’Leary, who has done a fantastic job over the past year. I am excited to be a different “voice” of USRowing and I’m looking forward to sharing stories from the men and women training for Team USA!

    Vicky Opitz
    @vickyopitz

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  • Passing The Torch

    Forgive the Olympics-themed metaphor, but I thought it rather appropriate. This will be my final blog post for the USRowing Training Center Blog. I took the helm just over a year ago, in February 2013 and have thoroughly enjoyed being “the voice” of the Training Center and sharing the stories of the men and women training to compete for the United States Rowing Team. It’s been a great ride; but other duties call, and so I will pass the torch to fellow training center athlete and teammate, Vicky Opitz.

    Vicky was a member of the 2013 World Champion and world record-setting women’s eight. She hails from Madison, Wisconsin and is basically a professional dessert critic. Seriously, if you need suggestions on the best cupcake or donut shop in town, she is all-knowing. After she’s done rowing, she aspires to go to culinary school, specializing in pastry. You may also remember Vicky as a guest blogger for the Training Center Blog’s Thanksgiving post, Teamsgiving 2013. She’s going to do an awesome job keeping the blog rolling.

    In December, I was voted onto the USRowing Board of Directors as the Female Athlete Representative. As a result, I will be stepping away from my USRowing writing duties and replacing them with serving on the USRA Board for the next term through 2017.

    I’m very excited to be joining the Board of Directors and feel I will bring a unique perspective as the Athlete Representative, having a bit of a different background and entering the sport of rowing later in life. In this particular position, I represent the needs of national team athletes including Paralympic, Olympic, and Pan-American team athletes. I’m looking forward to serving and hopefully making an impact to help grow and strengthen the sport in all areas.

    And so, to you the readers, I say thank you. I hope there was a post or two that made you laugh, that you could relate to, and that maybe even inspired you. I’ll still be blogging from my own personal website and hope to see you there!

    Every Day Counts.

    Meghan O’Leary
    @MeghanOLeary1


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