There is about a two month period between regattas for Manhattan College men’s rowing, but the club team had no plans of letting that time go to waste.
During spring break, the rowing team flew into West Palm Beach where they spent their time practicing and team-building at the Florida Rowing Center in Wellington, FL. The trip appeared to pay off in great dividends almost immediately.
“You can tell the difference when we got on the water on Friday to the last session on Sunday,” said head coach Karla Ward. “A significant, significant improvement.”
This is just an example of one of the many steps forward the club team has taken in their desire to become competitive yet again.
Both Ward and assistant coach Michael Ward have returned to Riverdale this past fall after coaching the team from 2003 to 2013. Alongside fellow assistant coaches Chelsea Ernst, Elizabeth Earley and Thomas Langowski, the coaches look to lead a team of eager rowers after a few years of less-structured rowing.
For seniors Edbin Gonzalez and Sean Feeney, the 2017-2018 season has stood out quite positively in comparison to their former years with the team.
“We definitely have the potential this year,” said Gonzalez. “This year is the best year [of] my four years with brand-new equipment, brand-new coaching, the best coaching style I’ve ever experienced. You don’t just see it in how we feel, but how we’re performing as well.”
According to Gonzalez, junior Vincent Wiedemann, Feeney, and himself are all experiencing extreme improvement in their performances compared to years past.
“We’re performing at the top that we’ve ever seen,” said Gonzalez about the trio. “We’re achieving times that we didn’t even think were possible in the realm of our possibility.”
In addition to the spring training trip, the team did not take a hiatus in the winter.
“It’s also the first year we’ve done extensive winter training,” Feeney said. “It’s kind of [been] on-off before; not too rigid [a] schedule. It’s good to get back into it and make sure we’re fully prepared for the spring season.”
When the women’s rowing team was in Draddy Gymnasium for indoor practice in the winter, the men would do a lot of sprints, core workouts and circuits in addition to working on the erg.
“It’s a lot of different types of workouts all thrown in to kind of improve different parts of our bodies and just overall increase our general fitness and make sure we’re conditioned and well-prepped to do our best on the water and make sure we’re at our strongest,” said Feeney.
One workout they did that has been a longstanding tradition at Manhattan was their use of the Overlook stairs. Every Thursday they would do 20 sets on those stairs.
“Some of these workouts are long standing,” said Ward. “So the Overlook stairs 20 sets has just been a traditional crew workout.”
The spring season starts on April 14 in Philadelphia, PA as the team will participate in the Kerr Cup. While the team has a little over two weeks to practice until they race competitively again, what they did and learned in Florida has already gone a long way for them.
“We’re just hoping to really get our form improved after all that we learned on our Florida trip,” said Feeney. “They taught us a lot about proper posture and form in the boat when you’re supposed to be rowing.”
The trip contained value beyond physical results as it was also a way for the team to bond and build stronger chemistry.
“Overall I might just say getting a better sense of team camaraderie,” said freshman Matthew Reynolds in regards to what was the best part of the trip.
The trip got many positive responses from the rowers and Ward is already considering making this a mainstay for men’s rowing instead of it simply being a one-time event.
“I know I’ve gotten some really good feedback so I think it’s something that we’ll do yearly,” said Ward.
All this work and all the early results in practice has given the team a positive outlook when thinking about their spring season.
“I think we have the potential to win the whole thing this year,” Feeney said in regards to the Spring Metropolitan Championships. “We just got to work hard and make sure our form is great and we’re following each other in the boat. And I think we can do it.”
The feedback from the trip and Feeney’s comments fit in well with the Wards’ coaching philosophy.
“Mike and I have always kind of coached with this mantra of two goals: have fun and be competitive,” Ward said.
This mantra allows for a variety of good experiences instead of one single basic one: to win. For Reynolds he understands how rowing can transcend the results in the water.
“My parents rowed here back in graduating year of ‘96-’97,” said Reynolds. “That’s how they met so when I joined I and they were very ecstatic upon learning that I had joined because it was clearly a very influential point in their lives.”
Reynolds feels rowing is influential not only on his parents’ lives, but on the lives of every member of the team.
“I’d say the overall team dynamic is pretty influential on everyone on the team,” said Reynolds. “Knowing that you always have a good core group of friends who are there. They’re always going to be looking out for you, pushing you every workout and you can help push back as well.”