The Tennessee rowing team may not always garner the same attention as competitors in other sports, such as basketball and football, but the Lady Vols are proving to be just as fierce.
It all circles back to head coach Lisa Glenn.
Glenn is heading into her 19th season at Tennessee in a program that has only existed for 22 years. She is a former collegiate rower herself and has used her first-hand experience to develop student-athletes in a unique way.
“There’s an unspoken understanding and common drive,” Glenn said. “I’ve been through what they’re going through. My knowledge base is helping guide the ship.”
For Tennessee, the ship is more than merely what the rowers command on the water. Glenn has continued to implement tried-and-true strategies to lead her athletes in the right direction.
“It’s the same now, and it was the same then,” Glenn said “It’s about a great group of people coming together to take ownership. Great students make great rowers, and great rowers make great students. The more serious the student, the more readily adaptable they are to rowing. It’s a harmonious relationship.”
Sophomore Jess Magnoli is no stranger to the level of all-around excellence Glenn expects from her student-athletes. Many coaches harp on success in the classroom, but it is apparent that Glenn is more than just talk.
“It’s definitely tough,” Magnoli said. “It holds you accountable, but in the end, I think we’re all better students and better athletes because of it. My grades have been the best they’ve ever been in my entire academic career. Personally, I enjoy it.”
As far as this season goes, the Lady Vols have set the bar high. After coming off of a third-place finish in the Big 12 Championship (Tennessee does not compete in the SEC), the Lady Vols are looking to make a deeper run in the postseason.
“We’re trying to come in at least the top two at the Big 12 Championship,” Magnoli said. “That’s our main goal, trying to beat teams like Oklahoma and Texas and then get to the NCAAs. Personally, though, I’d like to get my 2K test down to a 7:08. That’s something I’m working on every day in practice, and it just comes with time, the miles and meters and training.”
So, what really defines the Lady Vols rowing team?
To Magnoli, the answer is pretty simple.
“We work extremely hard,” Magnoli said. “We train just as hard as any athlete here, and we respect all the other teams. We love Rocky Top, and we’re here to win an NCAA championship and keep pushing for more.”
The Lady Vols will open up the 2018 season Saturday, Feb. 24, with competitions against UCF and Louisville.