March 14, 2003
Since the inception of the NCAA Women's Rowing Championships in 1997, only four programs have competed every year as a team. Virginia is one of those four programs, but the Cavaliers are not yet one of the two programs in that group to earn an NCAA Championship. That drives UVa head coach Kevin Sauer.
"We've been as close to the top of the mountain as you can come - tying Brown for the points trophy in 1999 - and we're striving to go all the way," Sauer said. "Women's rowing is so competitive at this level, that it's not enough any more simply to work hard and race well. The little things add up to a huge difference at the finish line in the NCAA Championships."
The little things include - training smart, not just hard; bringing a positive attitude to everything you do; making not only yourself, but your teammates faster; and constantly raising the bar for everyone - and those little things abound in this year's crew. This year's crew has shown a spark, a spirit, to pull together and do what it takes to bring Virginia rowing to the very pinnacle of success not only on the water, but in the classroom and in the community as well.
The watchwords for this year's Virginia rowing team are simple and powerful "We're Gonna Do This." The words are everywhere: on the boathouse wall, on the backs of team t-shirts, and on the lips of the young women who must make it happen.
"What has impressed me most," says assistant coach Joel Furtek, "is the leadership throughout the program. The team's captains, Claudia Durkin, Jen Reck, and Molly Baker, and manager Lane Cowin have done an excellent job; they have been ably assisted by the best coxswain corps I've ever seen; and women at every level of speed and experience have taken turns leading by their example of hard work and speed."
Fourth-year rowers in 2003 follow in the footsteps of the outstanding class of 2002, that included first-team All-American Madeline Engel, second-team All-American Lauren Mitterer, and national scholar-athlete Meg Van Dam. Other graduates whose impact will be missed are Hayley Nunn and coxswain Sarah Brennan.
Ready to take on the mantle of leadership are a strong group of returning fourth-year oarswomen, including Molly Baker, Jess Busch, Tammy Clark, Andrea Czarkowski, Kelley Dougherty, Claudia Durkin, Jessie Haury, Amanda Kennedy, Julie McQueen, Dawn Placek, and Lindsay Shoop.
The program's depth of speed is evident in the rest of the team including third-years Genevieve Cauchon-Voyer, Catelyn Coyle, Julie Creighton, Kelley Jesnig, 2002 first-team All-American and National Scholar-Athlete Jen Reck, and Margaret Matia, all of whom will challenge for the Cavaliers' top boats. They'll need to keep an eye on their second-year teammates, for Christine Chambers, Beth Clark, Mary Dobmeier, Katie Falcigno, Jenn Furstenau, Abby Lynch, Carolyn McMillan, Callie Spencer, and Katie Yrazabal bring fast-developing speed to the Virginia program. First-year Crystal MacLeod also promises to play a role in the varsity's speed.
Driving the rowers across the line are four outstanding coxswains, each with leadership to provide and many years left in the Virginia program. Second-years Launa Forehand and Betty Shumaker are joined by talented newcomers Karen Richardson and Danielle Sewell in taking the helm.
The road to the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis is a long one, taking the Cavalier rowers over 12,000 miles to face the fastest crews in the land. Fall racing saw the crew take to the water in Boston, Princeton and its home waters on the Rivanna. Winter training brought the warm sun of Cocoa Beach, Fla., during the semester break. The spring season will bring additional travel.
The Cavaliers' 2003 schedule kicks off at home on the Rivanna Reservoir against EAWRC opponent Columbia on March 15. Later that day Virginia plays host to the top crews from San Diego State in what has become an annual early-season event.
After an open weekend for further fine-tuning, the first and second varsity eights and first varsity four wing their way west for the Stanford Invitational on March 29 and 30. At the fabled Redwood Shores regatta site, the Cavaliers will face off against California-Berkeley, Southern California, and host Stanford in three races spread over just 24 hours. The remainder of the Cavalier squad will face Georgetown on the Potomac on Saturday, March 29. They will also race the following weekend at the Occoquan Sprints on April 6.
There will be no rest for the traveling Cavaliers, as the team loads up for a long-haul to Columbus, Ohio, and the 10th annual ACC-Big 10 double dual on April 12. Virginia will face long-time rivals and perennial speedsters from Ohio State and Michigan on the Buckeyes' home waters.
The following weekend, UVa stays at home to host the fourth ACC Championships on Lake Monticello. A full day of racing on April 19th will culminate in awards for the winners, a celebration of the ACC's 50th anniversary, and a homecoming for Cavalier rowing alumnae.
Having rowed in the South, the West, and middle America, the Cavaliers complete their geographic travels by heading to Boston the following weekend for a full day of racing on the Charles River on April 10. A morning race against Ivy powers Yale and Radcliffe would intimidate most teams, but Sauer has also added the challenge of an evening dual race with Texas for his team.
After a two-week break for final exams, Virginia travels to the EAWRC Sprints in Camden, N.J., and their final competition before NCAA invitations are extended. Long-time powers from the Ivy League and elsewhere will converge on the Cooper River in the single fastest regatta leading up to the NCAA Championships. Princeton and Brown are always in the hunt for the national title, and Virginia's performance in Camden will be an important indicator on the road to Indianapolis.
"We have a challenging schedule," says Sauer. "That has always been the Virginia way. We don't shy away from facing tough challenges on the road to the NCAA Championships, and this year is no exception. We find the speed among our competitors and go to meet it. If we perform to our ability and earn that NCAA bid, we will be well-prepared."