After a highly successful inaugural season, members of the rowing team are excited and optimistic about the future of the program moving forward.
Head coach Victoria McGee pointed to several encouraging milestones for the program this year, including a significantly expanded roster, a successful race in the fall, and a pre-season trip over Spring Break, as signs that the program is making meaningful progress.
“The program is in a good place coming into the spring season,” said McGee.
More than 60 rowers were signed up for the team this season, an increase of more than 25% over last year, and McGee said that the team was able to procure enough equipment for all the rowers to prepare and compete properly.
Although they will not be entering any races this spring, the team did get a taste of competition last fall racing at the Head of the Fish regatta in Saratoga, NY. The Bearcats entered boats in both the Boys Junior Novice Eight and Girls Junior Novice Eight divisions, finishing eighth in each race.
“It was really great – the whole team got their first experience of what race day is,” said McGee.
Despite the cold, rainy weather in October, McGee added that both Hotchkiss teams enjoyed the experience. “They get back on the dock and they’ve been on the water for an hour and a half, but they just have these smiles on their face,” she said. “That was definitely the highlight for me.”
In addition to going back to the Head of the Fish this fall, the team hopes to compete at the Head of the Charles regatta in Cambridge, MA, also in October. If the team’s bid is accepted, it will represent a meaningful step forward for the upper mids and seniors who will be in their third year of the program, said McGee.
This spring, more than a dozen rowers attended the team’s first Spring Break preseason trip to Tampa, FL. With most of the rowers having a season’s worth of experience, the team was able to spend less time on basic fundamentals and more time on fine-tuning technique, said McGee.
“One of the big things was developing what our rowing style is,” said McGee, adding that the team stresses to rowers that they must not only be in sync with each other, but also with their boat. “We want them working to feel the boat, to let the boat do some work for us,” she said.
Despite being away from campus, current members of the team are working to stay in shape and stay connected. Rowers are working with Director of Athletic Performance and Fitness Brodie Quinn on a series of strength and conditioning workouts, and the team is holding practices twice a week. Practices have focused on both technical aspects of the sport and also leadership skills, said McGee.