This past weekend, the Wellesley Crew team raced to its eighth consecutive New England Women’s & Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Rowing Championship at the Donahue Rowing Center on Lake Quinsigamond, Mass. With this win, the Blue clinched its spot to represent the NEWMAC at the 2018 NCAA Division III Championships in Sarasota, Fl.
In a season with races plagued by turbulent weather conditions, Wellesley Crew still enjoyed a successful season with an “energy on the team that’s been really competitive but super positive, more so than any other year,” according to Head Coach Tessa Spillane.
Co-captain Lauren Bazley ’18 also noted the shift in spirit. Bazley commented that the influx of both recruited and walk-on first-year athletes and the addition of two new coaches to the roster, Assistant Coach Stacey Rippetoe and Novice Coach Emilie Muller, has been “really energizing for the program, and we have been rowing very cohesively.”
Leading up to the championship run, both Bazley and Spillane expressed that the team’s physical preparation has not changed dramatically. They intended to treat this race similar to all the others. “It doesn’t matter what day it is,” Bazley said. “We show up, and we execute to the best of our abilities. Because we practice that excellence, it is just expected on race day.”
The NEWMAC Championships function on a team points model, so the competing schools sum their points from each race to determine the overall champion. This approach has led Spillane to tweak training slightly by working all four boats together more than usual, to “just try and put them in those racing moments more so than last week which we used as strictly speed training,” Spillane explained.
While team members limit their physical practice regimen to rest their legs before championship regattas, they are not afforded the same luxury in their mental preparation. Bazley noted that “in the spring, it can be kind of challenging because our championship racing overlaps when academics become particularly heavy at Wellesley. We are coming into arguably our biggest regatta of the season, and this week just me alone, I’ve had two midterms and a large project due.” It is difficult for the rowers to find a balance between academics, athletics and sleep.
Fortunately, finding this balance has brought the team together. Like many student athletes, team members support each other off the water because “it’s not just me struggling with my classes, it’s me and my teammates; you learn you’re not alone in it,” Bazley said.
Blue Crew’s preparation and training paid off during this weekend’s competition, with Wellesley finishing first with 44 points, followed by Worcester Polytechnic Institute with 30 points, Smith College with 22 points, Simmons College with 16 points, United States Coast Guard Academy with 12 points, Mount Holyoke College with eight points and Clark University with four points. When reflecting on her four years rowing at Wellesley, Bazley noted that the “field of competition has changed pretty dramatically, so even teams who might not have been as competitive have been hot on our heels.” Yet Wellesley’s commitment to systematic preparation and consistent talent has ensured its excellence throughout the years. “We have a large senior class,” commented Bazley, “but we also have a lot of sophomores and first years, so I think that although the field of competition has been changing, Wellesley will continue to be a team to watch.”
Wellesley Crew will compete for the New England Rowing Championships this weekend as they prepare for the NCAA Division III Championships in May.