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WWC rowers remain dedicated despite challenges

Elizabeth Gunto, staff writer

The Warren Wilson rowing team consists of  sophomores Sarah Malphrus, Abi Locatis, Emma Fitzsimons, Deirdre Ludlow, and juniors Becky Edwards and Liz Miller. The rowing coach is Bob Soderstrom.

In-water practices are from one to two hours, and rowers also have land practices which are “largely self-motivated and involve weights, lots of cardio, and avoiding the ERG  as much as possible,” said Locatis.

The in-water practices take place at Lake Julian.

“Practices are intense whether they are in the gym or on the water. If they aren’t intense, what’s the point of the sport?” said  Edwards.

In the rowing world, competitions are called “regattas” and they can be pretty intense.

“Races are the reason we go through hell all year round. Races are eight minutes of the most intense and most excruciating pain that will either bring you glory or defeat.” Edwards said. “It’s the end all to be all. It’s very competitive, and if you manage to bring home a medal it stays with you for the rest of your life.”
Locatis said she enjoys the regattas because she likes “being fast, pushing myself and my teammates, shiny medals, all the beautifully muscled men in spandex and the abundance of bagels.” She describes regattas as being “like huge track meets in the water. [They’re]  exhausting but fun.”

“Regattas are a way to measure not only the rower’s accomplishments but also to see how well you personally performed in preparing the crews for competition. With limited practice time, it is always rewarding to see your boats compete against opponents like the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Wakeforest, Jacksonville, and Purdue,” Soderstrom said. “Since I started coaching, I am rewarded in watching someone who has never seen a racing shell progress to the point that [he or she] can effectively compete against crews from larger schools.”

There have been different thoughts on the Warren Wilson rowing team being a club sport instead of a varsity sport.

“If we were varsity we’d probably have to get a lot more serious, rowing would eat even more of my life, and I’d have to find a way to get more food,” said Locatis.

“It’s unfortunate, as we put in the same amount of hours as a varsity team, with less support and funding, but we have good volunteer coaches,” Fitzsimons said.

“It’s hard, but we know that if we are good it might be a possibility one day. But rowing is an expensive sport, so I can also understand why we aren’t sponsored,” said Edwards.

The lack of funds a varsity team like rowing receives can make competing in regattas difficult. Instead of spending money to stay overnight in hotels, the team gets up early on the morning of the race to drive. Also, each team member must pay dues, and costs add up quickly.

“Each regatta costs money. In addition to the initial outlay or a uniform, there are entry fees and travel expenses. Entry fees typically run about $10 a seat for each event: a double, $20, a four would be $40, and an eight would be $80,” Soderstrom said.

Despite the costs, the teammates are still working hard to perform well at their next regatta.

Edwards started rowing when she was in high school and kept up with it when she came to Warren Wilson two years ago. Fitzsimons just started rowing this year, and Locatis started rowing in 2007, though this is her first year on the Warren Wilson rowing   team.

Bob Soderstrom began rowing in a novice men’s eight (meaning eight people in the boat) in the summer of 2004 and now rows with the Asheville rowing club.

“I would just like to say that it has been a pleasure to work with the Warren Wilson students and the school, and I know that the other members of the Asheville Rowing Club feel the same,” said Soderstrom.


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