This weekend the Lady Vols rowing team will hit the road for the waters of California for the Windermere Real Estate Regatta, one of the nations top rowing events. The 20-mile course at Redwood Shores begins with a narrow stretch of water and then becomes wider, exposing teams to cross-winds. Tennessee will join schools such as Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Louisville, Washington and Virginia for the two-day event.
The Lady Vols are ranked 12th in the country and grabbed two first place medals in their last meet against Ohio State and Michigan. Both of these medals were won by the Second Varsity team. Coach Lisa Glenn has stressed that the Varsity 8+ team is not where they should be right now, and it will be interesting to see if they will be able to rebound over the weekend. In the last meet, their time slipped 20 seconds from their previous meet against Louisville. However, the Second Varsity teams are 5-0 in their last three meets and are led by 8+ coxswains Stephanie Davis and 4+ coxswain Pam Harder.
On the mens side, the team is preparing for the regional finals on April 21 as it will play host to schools from all around the country. President Kevin McHale has noticed the growth and improvement in the team since last season.
When I started, the team had 10 to 15 people; now it has almost doubled in size. I think the growth is because of focus on the team rather than individuals, McHale said. Also, novice team coach Eric Caldwell has kept the kids in, rather than pushed them away.
The novice team earned bronze in the John Hunter regatta, while the varsity lightweight team earned silver in the same event, and the varsity men 8+ earned gold in the Augusta Invitational. Unlike the womens team, the mens team is self-funded.
In practice the teams have been working on communication, an important tool on the boats and life, according to volunteer novice coach Eric Caldwell. The reason I coach is to allow rowers to develop into leadership roles. The more leaders you can develop, the better your team will be, he said.