Dec. 22, 2008
Editor's note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Thursday, Aug. 7, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2008-09 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.
by Richie Zawistowski
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Nearly everyone can recite the Row, row, row your boat nursery rhyme, but the University of Iowa women's V8 rowers laugh at the old jingle. When rowing in collegiate athletics, life is far from a dream.
Training is tough and the rowing is rigorous. While it may not be not be one of the most recognized sports on among the UI community, that does not diminish the efforts of the Hawkeye rowing stuent-athletes.
"Rowing is a sport that involves your entire body," said UI head coach Mandy Kowal. "It's a tough sport and a lot of people don't realize how tough it is. It's very demanding both physically and mentally. You think about a wrestler and you think of toughness. Rowing is like that. The training that goes behind it -- the training hours are long. Anyone who gets through successive years in college rowing as well as being a student-athlete is going to be really successful in life."
The rowing season is divided into two parts -- one session being in the fall, and the other being in the spring. The UI women's V8 traveled to Rockford, Ill., and Chicago, then to Charlottesville, Va., to compete against some of the better competition in the nation. The varsity team (which the V8 boat is part) is comprised of 37 rowers, and the novice (JV) has between 30-35 rowers.
The V8 boat is unique in that its roster can change rapidly. Every athlete is competing to get a shot at the V8 boat, and the eight rowers in a boat can change from match to match.
"The V8 kind of alternates who is in it," said V8 captain Laura Kanaris. "Depending on their performance from the trialing and testing that we do a few times a week."
"Rowing is a sport that involves your entire body. It's a tough sport and a lot of people don't realize how tough it is. It's very demanding both physically and mentally. You think about a wrestler and you think of toughness. Rowing is like that. The training that goes behind it -- the training hours are long. Anyone who gets through successive years in college rowing as well as being a student-athlete is going to be really successful in life."
UI head rowing coach
Rowing is unique in that the off-season is in the middle of the fall and spring competitions. That makes it tough on athletes to prepare for the spring season. Kowal does not see that being a problem with the team, though.
"If we go into winter training with the mission to complete everything with the highest quality and perfection and then we can carry that into our racing," said Kowal. "If we do that, we're going to have a lot of fun. They've been pretty responsive in the past, so it's going to come from the top in terms of our expectations and everything else, and I think they're going to fall in line."
In order to fall in line, the Hawkeye rowers must put in hours of tough training in order to get ready for the spring. Iowa faces somewhat of a disadvantage preparing in a colder climate because the training that needs to be done in the offseason has to be indoors on rowing machines. However, things will soon change with a new state-of-the-art boathouse being built on the UI campus. The P. Sue Beckwith, M.D., Boathouse -- on the banks of the Iowa River -- will be a beautiful facility necessary for the continued growth of the UI rowing program. In addition, the Beckwith Boathouse will provide recreational opportunities for all members of the UI and surrounding community.
"I'm really excited about it," said V8 rower Emily Katalinich. "I don't know if I'll get a chance to use it, since I'm a junior. I'm excited about the opportunities it will offer with recruiting. It's just another tool to draw high-caliber rowers to the program. It has an indoor training facility, so we can practice water work in the offseason, so this will allow us to keep pace with teams such as Florida, so that will be a huge advantage helping us get a leg up on competition."
The V8 rowing does not need the boathouse in order to succeed. The team has been boding well without it, and coach Kowal likes what she has seen from her team in the fall.
"They showed a lot of promise in terms of how they arrived on campus -- they were fit, ready to go. They definitely displayed that on our rowing machines. They posed some real decent scores and are kind of moving ourselves in the direction of some of the same scores to where we would going to NCAA's on a regular basis. I think there were definitely some shining moments and glimmers of action in boat speed, but we just need to figure out how to do it on a consistent basis."
Consistency is key in all athletics and rowing is no exception. Rowers need to work together and be consistent in their efforts in order for them to be victorious. Rowing is the ultimate group competition according to Kinaris.
"Rowing is the ultimate team sport," said Kinaris. "You just fall in love with your team and they become family. Everyone has to be working hard for the team to succeed and that's a great feeling. It's unlike any other sport."
The rowing season resumes in Austin, Texas, for the Longhorn Invitational on March 20, 2009.