From Rowing in High School to Rowing at Marquette

Alex Campbell '17 (Novice Women)

Majors: Accounting, Finance

Hometown: Chicago, IL

I picked up my first oar in high school as an awkward freshman with braces, chicken legs, and way too many pairs of basketball shorts (which as we know do not work in rowing). As junior year rolled around, I was looking at programs with D1 standing and the hopes of being offered a rowing scholarship. I was thoroughly convinced that I belonged among the athlete-students, not the student-athletes. But as offers of rowing at multiple D1 schools in the Midwest and East coast came, I soon realized that rowing D1 was not for me and not what I wanted out of my college experience.

Senior year did not go as planned. My four went to the Head of the Charles and while coming through one of the last bridges, we were hit on the starboard side. We went from being in 8th place to getting 38th and lost our chance to go to Nationals (I had gone sophomore and junior year). My spirit had been broken and I was burnt out. I never wanted to step foot into a boat and ultimately chose college based on academics over rowing.

I came to Marquette, considering whether to give rowing a second chance, and thought that a club program would not be competitive, and would be more like recreational rowing. WRONG! Marquette Crew is a team of students who are competitive, hardworking, and have a desire to row simply because they love rowing. I got my butt kicked on the erg from girls who had never rowed before, but I was not upset that they were beating me, I was happy because that meant we would have a fast team, they were learning how to row efficiently as well as strongly, and pushed me to be an even stronger rower. Rowing under Coach Gina and Bri made me realize that one bad season should not deter me away from what I shared with the other members of the team - a passion for rowing.

So, I joined the freshman team as the only woman who had ever rowed before and it was the best decision I ever made. I forgot how awesome being a novice was again. No one had a bitter hatred of the erg because they had never used one. No one knew that there was no such thing as the ‘oar lock key’ (a good prank to pull on novice rowers). Everyone was willing to learn and try their hardest to succeed.

One of the funniest moments was during our third or fourth week of practice in the fall. Our seven seat was told to raise her hands and as we know, that would raise her oar and help the set. Instead, she took both hands off the oar and raised them as if she was answering a teacher’s question and then asked Coach Gina what she should do next. She took that comment so literally, she forgot that without hands on the oar, the boat wasn’t going to move or change. It was a true novice moment and that’s when I realized I loved learning everything. I had the opportunity to row different seats than I was used to, and that kept me fresh and made me a better rower. It also allowed me to be a leader by being able to help some of the other rowers as they all learned the sport for the first time.

To top it off, we had a winning novice year! I was worried about Marquette not being as successful as my scholastic crew, but I have a medal from every regatta that I rowed in the fall and a gold medal from MACRA in the spring. We made it to semi-finals at Dad Vail, making us the first eight in ten years from Marquette to advance to the second day. We may have not gone on to finals but I could not ask for a better freshman year of rowing.

Rowing with a new club is different. Rowing in college is different. There are new coaches, new boats, different styles of coxing and coaching. It will not be exactly the same as high school, but I can promise that your love of rowing will grow. You will make memories and friends. But most importantly, you will be happy at Marquette, and you will not regret the first time you pick up a blue oar with the yellow cross.

 

Becoming a Coxswain

Corinne Kwapis '17 (Novice Women Coxswain)

Major: Women and Gender Studies

Hometown: Belleville, IL

As a freshman entering into school where I was unfamiliar with the environment, campus, and culture, I searched for a place to experience new ideas and to challenge myself.  I found all of these elements and more in Marquette crew.  Completely unaware of the passion I would foster for the sport, I attended the informational session and first water practice.  I cannot recall the driving force behind my pursuit of the team, but I looked past the 5 day/12 hrs a week commitment, picked up my coxbox, and harnessed a persona I didn’t know existed inside me.

Joining the team introduced me to a host of new opportunities, particularly gaining insight from upperclassmen.  I could count on them for help in class, advice on college culture, or a lunch buddy in exchange for meal swipes. As a novice coxswain, I absorbed so much information from watching and interacting with the varsity boats. I was very nervous the first time I coxed a boat with both varsity and novice rowers, but it forced me outside of my comfort zone, and I learned many valuable lessons from their feedback.

Applying the lessons I learned during practice to boatings at regattas proved challenging, however, these high pressure situations provided a sense of clarity that I never experienced before.  Launching for the first time at Tail of the Fox was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences!  After several regattas, however, navigating down the river around other crews, listening to the dockmaster, and recapping my race plan became routine.  Reflecting on the fall 5k season compared to the spring 2k season, I recognize my growth into not only a more experienced coxswain, but also a more assertive, capable person.

I’m excitedly anticipating the fall 2014 season and gaining new rowers (and coxswains!).  I can’t wait to see our team grow and evolve as we continue to build the program.  I believe our success is derived from our passion and commitment to not only the sport, but also each other.  We hold each other accountable, and this combination of responsibility and athleticism has created a winning crew.  My favorite memory from the year was crossing the finish line at Dad Vails, ahead of D1 crews, knowing that even as a small club team, we could still compete with nationally ranked squads.  Coxing the first Marquette 8+ boat in ten years to race in semi-finals could not have been a better way to conclude my freshman year.  I’m thrilled to mentor the novice coxswains in the fall and shower them with a wealth of knowledge, catchphrases, and team-bonding activities.  I’m looking forward to being back in Milwaukee with my team...sophomore year will be one for the (record) books!

 

ACRA: Day 2

Jacob Dahleen (Varsity Men)

Major: Computer Engineering

Hometown: Manitowoc, WI

Heat Day! - in more ways than one. Its quite warm down here in Georgia, but Dan and I are surviving quite well. Fortunately for the weather our race this morning was very early, meaning it was still cool, though warm by Milwaukee standards as of late and as an added bonus the water was flat. In our heat we got off to a good start immediately putting ourselves in a good position, but didn’t have the experience to keep up with many of the other crews finishing 6th out of 7 boats. It was a good learning experience and we came off determined to do better in the afternoon reps. In the later morning we relaxed before our afternoon race and watched some quality racing.

In our afternoon race we again had a strong start, fell back a little, but then fought back, barely missing 4th place out of 6th boats, but managing to hang on to 5thkeeping Kansas at bay through the entire race. It was hard fought and disappointing to be so close, especially when we thought it meant we wouldn’t make the B final. Come to find out later we had mistakenly thought there were 7 boats in our race, but since there were only 6 we did in fact get the last spot in the B final! Tomorrow will be a challenging day, but we feel confident we can finish well and represent Marquette!

ACRA: Day 3

Dan Otterson (Varsity Men)

Major: Biomedical Sciences

Hometown: Columbus, OH

Today was the day of finals and Jake and I could not have been more excited to get on the water and row one last race for our collegiate careers! The conditions, other than being a little hotter than we’re used to, were perfect for racing: flat water, clear skies, and a slight tail wind. We got up the starting blocks and sat ready for the announcer to send us off for one final race.

“Attention…GO!!” We went flying off the start, moving ahead of William and Mary and hanging with UCSB and UCLA. In the middle we started to make a move on these other boats with a power 20. Unfortunately we ran out of steam towards the end and the other boats started to slip away from us. We finished 7th in our final. Although we would have liked to finish a little higher, we were both happy that we were able to give it our all for this one final race.

I won’t lie, after the day of practice, I was extremely intimidated by the teams and individuals we were going to be racing against. But throughout the weekend, I found that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Everywhere I went there were conversations between teams, cheering for all the squads, and a general atmosphere of respect. I personally got to talk to people from Michigan, Grand Valley, UCSB, and Alabama-Huntsville. I could not be happier that I got to end my collegiate rowing career at the ACRA regatta.

I certainly hope that future rowers from Marquette can have the same experience I had at such a fantastic regatta! Go Marquette!!

ACRA: Day 1

Dan Otterson (Varsity Men)

Major: Biomedical Sciences

Hometown: Columbus, OH

Well, after a very long drive from Milwaukee, that included a brief layover in my hometown of Columbus, OH, Jake and I made it to Georgia!! We had a good night’s sleep and a big meal to get us ready for a day of practicing with our borrowed boat and oars.

 The racecourse was absolutely amazing (8 lanes wide for those big races)! It was also the course used in the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. We got out there and had a solid row where we practiced going down the racecourse a couple of times. The fact that we were out there practicing with some of the best-known crews in the country was definitely an experience to remember.

 After today’s practice and the heats that we’ve got lined up, I can’t wait to get out on the water tomorrow and show these crews what Marquette Crew has been up to!

 

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