Any coach will tell you that in order to have a successful team, you must have great returning upperclassmen that are willing to continue working hard.
The Lady Vol rowing team is no different.
UTs current crop of seniors, which has led the Lady Vols from unranked status three years ago to their current No. 13 ranking, will row in its last home regatta at 10 a.m. Saturday against Washington State at the UT Boathouse.
The seniors are all committed to the betterment of this team, senior Dana Forbes said. Its been a great experience to be with this program as it entered the national scene and is now becoming a serious threat.
The seniors talent has helped elevate Tennessee to where it is today, according to coach Lisa Glenn.
The senior class of Andrea Bagwell, McKenzie Craig, Dana Forbes, and two-time All-Americans Kaitlin Bargreen and Chelsea Pemberton, has played an instrumental role in the success of the Lady Vols top Varsity 8+ shell, while seniors Marissa Allen and Melissa DiCerbo have provided stability for the second Varsity 8+ shell. Coxswain Jovanna Vick rounds out the senior class.
The seniors have been a class of trailblazers whom I have been privileged to guide for four years, Glenn said. It has been a real thrill to work with these athletes who joined us in our effort to go new places with the program.
Of all the seniors, Glenn said she has looked to Bargreen and Pemberton for leadership.
Chelsea and Katie have been a real special part of this program, Glenn said. I feel so proud of what they have taken on for themselves and appreciate tremendously what they have taken on with me and the team.
With five seniors on the Varsity 8+ shell, the Lady Vols have posted a 4-0 record in head-to-head competition, and finished sixth overall in the San Diego Crew Classic.
The Varsity 8+ shell is currently 13th in the polls after defeating No. 9 Virginia last week.
Last year the rowing team finished a program-best 10th in the NCAA Championships, and looks to improve on that mark by returning seven of the nine members from last years shell.
These seniors have competed against the best teams in the nation, and have helped put the Tennessee rowing program on the map, Glenn said. To go from unranked as freshmen to 10th in the nation as juniors is all you need to know.
The seniors are not the only reason the team has been so successful. Glenn has been there guiding the team every step of the way.
(Glenn) is amazing, senior Kaitlin Bargreen said. She puts her heart into the program and cares about making Tennessee a very powerful rowing team. She keeps us constantly improving every year and pushes us to the next level.
The seniors have also instilled a work ethic in the younger members.
They are very intense leaders who set a solid example for the rest of the team, sophomore Steppie Williams said of the departing seniors. They are a group that knows what the goal is and are will to put the work in to achieve it.
Glenn would like to send the seniors off in fashion by assembling a large crowd at the dock to support them in their final home event.
The best gift these seniors could get is a packed Volunteer Navy dock yelling their hearts out ... Saturday morning and witnessing their skill and passion at work in Knoxville, Glenn said.