March 1, 2003
As the sun rises over beautiful Lake Hartwell, so do the women of the Clemson rowing team. These Tigers have learned that hard work and dedication are the tools needed to earn a spot among the nations best teams. The team is in its fifth year as a varsity program and it already has many accomplishments under its belt. The team’s strength will lie in using this experience and turning it into success throughout the year.
Last year the Tigers were very successful both on and off the water. They earned a plethora of honors and awards. Among the senior class, Lucy Doolittle and Aimee Fox earned All-America honors and were named to the All-ACC and the 50th Anniversary ACC Rowing teams. They also were named to the 1st team CRCA All-Region team along with current team captain, Emily Kuivila. Sally Kukla was named to the second team. Overall, the Tigers finished their Spring season ranked 22nd in the nation, their second consecutive top 25 ranking. At the South Region Championship, they earned the team championship when the Varsity 4+, Novice 8+, and Second Varsity 8+ won the South Region Championships in their events.
These Tigers have also had an impressive reputation in the classroom. Kuivila, was chosen by the CRCA as a National-Scholar athlete. The team posted an overall GPA of 3.23 in the spring of 2002 with many receiving 4.0’s. This is .09 higher than the average posted by the rest of the female students within the university and is the second highest GPA within the athletic department. Twenty-three out of 38 rowers made Clemson’s honor roll, while 34 made the ACC honor roll. This fall the team earned a 3.19 overall GPA and had a department record of 50 student-athletes on the honor roll. Academic advisor, Ginty Porter, comments: “I have never worked with a more dedicated and focused group of student-athletes than the Clemson Rowers.”
Clemson’s Rowing program returned 30 student-athletes to its roster this Fall in addition to the 40 Novice named to the team September 21. Head Coach, Susie Lueck, is excited about the upcoming year. “The Varsity came back from the summer fired up and ready to succeed. They worked hard this summer and proved that they are committed and dedicated to making Clemson Rowing a fast program.” There is a lot of skill and ambition returning to the varsity squad this year. The Tigers have been practicing hard both on and off the water. They have worked on speed and power on the ergs, focusing on getting the most out of every workout. This power is then transitioned to the water.
Head Coach Susie Lueck
The Tigers had a strong nontraditional season this fall. In an exhibition race against the men’s Club Crew team the Tigers Varsity 8+ finished just behind them in 19:36.9. The second Varsity 8+ claimed third (23:17.5).
In the fifth annual Class Day Regatta the Novice set the pace with the closest race in Class Day history. The four Novice boats finished within 1.7 seconds of each other with times of 8:44.1, 8:44.5, 8:45.2, and 8:45.8. In the Class Day Race the seniors won in 7:16.6. They were followed closely by the sophomores who finished in 7:23.2. Showing they still have what it takes, the alumni took third (7:42.6) over the juniors who finished in 8:19.2.
At the Head of the Charles Regatta, the Varsity 8+ traveled to Boston for one of the most prestigious head race in the country. Last year on the team’s first trip to Boston, they started 52nd, and finished 20th overall. This year the Tigers finished 27th (17:48.8).
Next, the Tigers traveled to Gainsville, GA, to defend their title as Head of the Hooch Champions. The Novice 8+ claimed first (20:30.1) and sixth (23:05.3) in their season opener. The second Tiger boat posted a time of 23:05.3 after a 60 second penalty for a buoy violation. Tigers racing in the Women’s Club Novice 8+ finished 11th with a time of 23:09.6.
In the Championship 8+ final, Clemson finished fifth (18:26.7) and 10th (19:17.2). The Tigers third varsity 8+ raced in the Club 8+, finishing 11th in 20:55.9. Clemson’s boats finished fourth (20:49.4), seventh (21:16), and 11th (21:31.4) in the Championship 4+ race. The Tigers’ fourth varsity 4+ finished third in the Women’s Club 4+ and the novice 4+ finished second in their race.
Their Fall season concluded with the Rivanna Romp in Charlottesville, VA. The Tigers raced a total of nine boats in three races against Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio State and William & Mary. In the highest finish of the day, the Novice 8+ boats took second (13:51.2), fifth (16:16.4) and seventh (16:29.7). The Varsity 8+ boats placed third (13:51.2) and eighth (14:43.4) in their race. The Tigers had four boats competing in the Varsity 4+. Those boats took second (15:43.6). third (16:05.5), fourth (16:07.4) and fifth (16:07.7).
The Clemson Rowing team has the motto: “The will to win, means nothing without the will to prepare” and they have spent the winter preparing for their spring season.
Not only are the rowers committed to creating a national powerhouse, but the coaching staff brings a wealth of experience to the program. As the team has expanded, so has the staff. This year the Tigers welcome Michele Rupe to the program. Rupe, as Director of Operations, is primarily in charge of the organizational and administrative work within the program. She will also be working closely with Novice coach, Kelly Lynch, on recruiting. Other additions to the staff are undergraduate coaches Aimee Fox and Farrell Finstad. Though both have been a part of the program since its existence, they have entered the realm of coaching by assisting with both the novice and varsity teams. Together, the coaching staff has a combined total of over thirty years as full-time coaches and the undergraduate coaches bring with them four years each of athletic experience at the Division I level, as well as many years of experience within the Varsity 8+.
This year, there is a new opportunity for leadership within the team. The program graduated 12 seniors last season, which changes the dynamics of the team. Emily Kuivila, Nicollette Burgess, and Liz Monteith have taken on the roles of team captains. “They along with the other three seniors are working hard to take Clemson rowing to the next level,” Lueck commented.
The sophomore class is making the transition from novice to varsity. Collectively, they had an outstanding novice year. Not only did the Novice 8+ have a strong finish at the end of the year placing first within the South Region, but other freshman were integral members of both the Varsity 8+ and Second Varsity 8+. “They are a talented group physiologically. They come to practice everyday excited to work hard and show consistency and intensity. They are committed to making Clemson Rowing a competitive program on a national level,” Lueck said.
The Novice squad was named to the team on September 21st and consists of 38 athletes. Novice coach, Kelly Lynch, is “very excited about this group of athletes. They are a great group; they’re dedicated, committed and fun-loving.” Together, they have worked very hard to get to where they are now. The nontraditional fall season served as a developmental period for this group. The Novice were able to unify as a new team and set high standards for themselves taking first place in their first regatta at the Head of the Hooch. They followed that win with a second place finish at the Rivanna Romp Regatta. “This is a really talented group of athletes and they have improved exponentially since their first day of practice,” coach Lynch commented.
For the Tiger rowers, practice doesn’t just end on the water. This team “busts it” in the weight room three days a week. Megan McGuirt, a graduate of the program, was named rowing’s first Strength and Conditioning All-American in the spring of 2002. Strength coach, Tanna Burge, states, “Clemson rowers have an intense desire to excel in all aspects of their training.”
On the water, their success is obvious, as they have finished in the top 25 for the past two years, but they don’t stop here. They treat their time in the weight room as an extension of practice. “I like working with rowers” Burge comments. “Their work ethic is like no other team. They have an unstated competition within themselves. Individually, they want to push themselves to their max. By doing this, they are pushing everyone around them. They aren’t the type of team to back down and let someone practice harder than they do.”
Rowing is the ultimate team sport. The demands that rowing places on an individual are just as mental as they are physical. Not only do you want to be powerful-but eight people in a boat have to demonstrate this power simultaneously. Their technique has to match at every point of the stroke and if it does not, the rowers will actually be working against each other rather than with each other. Rowing is a perfect balance of maintaining individual power and technique, while working within the crew to respond to the environment around you. As the Tigers prepare for their spring season, the execution of these elements will show that the Clemson Rowing Team is ready for the competition.
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