Today's Athlete of the Week has a slightly different twist. So many times, individual awards drown out the quality of a team sport. Therefore, the Lady Vol rowing team has been chosen as Athlete of the Week.
Rowing is the ultimate team sport in which a boat full of athletes must depend on each other's reactions and movements in order for the team to be successful.
In a boat, also called a shell, there are either five or nine rowers. The 4+ races consist of four rowers and a coxswain while the 8+ is eight rowers and a coxswain.
What is a coxswain? A coxswain is the boss of the boat. She is fully equipped with a microphone and headset that is connected to three speakers in the boat so that all the rowers can hear her commands.
The coxswain calls out the strategy of the race as it progresses, head coach Lisa Glenn said. If a change is called, it is up to the rowers to react. The coxswain is also in charge of motivating the team.
While many teams rely on one particular athlete to carry the load of the team, the Lady Vol rowers have relied on each other to carry them along the way.
I don't think I could really highlight one MVP for the season, Glenn said. We have a few seniors that provide strength and a couple of sophomores who add spirit and fire to the team.
We also have some juniors who are doing quite well. I think the freshmen are just taking everything in stride.
Glenn said that, although she is pleased with her team's performance, she feels that some changes may be in store for the future.
I think the team will change over the course of the season, she said. Rowing is such a repetitive motion the better you get, the farther distance you travel with one stroke.
I think that our seniors will get comfortable with technical improvements and the young rowers will learn to trust what they are doing.
So far, the Lady Vols have been quite successful in their first two events of the season.
On Oct. 7, Tennessee competed in the Head of the Ohio in Pittsburgh, Pa. The Lady Vols had a tremendous showing in the Club 4+ as the team of Shannon McMahon, Lauren Kueck, Grace Harrington, Joyce Kranzke and Kristen Logan captured first place with a time of 18:25.60. The team of Erika Twedt, Kelly Kraiss, Kay Logan, Ashley Smith and Marie Hanscom took home third with a mark of 18:34.30 while Lizzie Brown, Kacey Montgomery, Ginny Bradley, Tammy Horton and Erin Moore placed fourth, only 11.5 seconds later.
The Lady Vols also had a team to place eighth among 21 teams in the Youth 4+. They posted a time of 20:07.20.
Although Tennessee fared well in the event, the day was shortened because of gusting winds.
There were crazy winds and raging waters in Ohio, Glenn said. But I was really proud because for everybody on our team, it was clear that they were there to compete.
Last weekend, Tennessee traveled to Clemson, S.C., for the Head of Lake Hartwell. Once again, the Lady Vols brought home top honors in the Varsity 4+, as well as second and third place in a separate race.
In the first 4+ race, McMahon, Kueck, Harrington, Kranzke and Kristen Logan combined to finish second with a time of 22:49. The boat of Twedt, Montgomery, Bradley, Horton and Erin Artz finished third, posting a time of 22:51.
In the day's second 4+ race, the combination of Elizabeth Humberd, Kraiss, Kay Logan, Smith and Hanscom raced to a first-place finish with a time of 23:30.
I had expected our 4+ to be very competitive because they're also competitive with each other, Glenn said. I feel that we have performed pretty close to out expectations. We just have to keep doing what we know and do it as well as we can.
The Lady Vols also had the team of McMahon, Kueck, Montgomery, Hanscom, Harington, Smith, Kay Logan, Kelsey and Horton finish in third place in the competition's Varsity 8+ race, posting a time of 20:18. It was just ahead of the Lady Vols' fourth-place finisher.
This Saturday, the Lady Vols will travel to Boston to compete at the Head of the Charles Regatta. Their third road trip in as many weeks will be a tuneup for the Oct. 28 Head of the Tennessee Regatta to be held near Sequoyah Hills in Knoxville.
It will be nice to be here and race because we really travel a lot, Glenn said. I expect a very strong showing. We want to move the shell as fast as we can and collect as many wins as we can.
The Head of the Tennessee will host over 3,000 athletes with boats starting at 10 seconds apart. The boats will be racing against the clock instead of different boats.