USRowing Training Center Blog

  • USRowing Training Center athletes remember how they “learned to row”

    Apr 30, 2015
    Spring and warmer weather is finally settling in across the nation; rowers are dusting off those winter cobwebs on their boats and hitting the water. Are you someone who has always wondered what would it be like to row? Well, you’re in luck!

    The 14th-annual National Learn to Row Day sponsored by USRowing and Concept2 will take place on Saturday, June 6, 2015, in rowing clubs and health clubs throughout the United States.

    Ask any rower about how they first learned to row and you will hear many interesting (usually funny) stories on how they turned from novice to enthusiast rower. Here are some learn to row stories from USRowing Training Center athletes.

    Vicky Opitz:

    My learn to row story started as a freshman at University of Wisconsin in Madison. Learning to row at first was scary and hard. As a novice, I remember my first time being on the water, climbing into the “barge” (two eights bolted together and rigged as on giant eight) and being told to just follow the girl in font of me. Slowly, those first practices of crabs, wash-outs, and aching hands turned to rowing by four, then by six, and finally all eight. Little by little, I started to learn how to row. There was something about it that made me keep coming back to those freshman practices and I was hooked. Rowing is a great sport because you can directly see the results of how much work and time you are willing to put in. When rowing has that "eureka" moment and the boat starts to move, it is such a rewarding experience.

    My advice would be to get a single and just have fun figuring out how to move a boat for a while. Once you have that, you can slowly put more and more power behind it and go!

    Kristine O’Brien:

    When I began my freshman year at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School, my parents urged me to try rowing since my school had a team. They had heard that there were college scholarships for women's rowing and they were all for it! I was much more interested in trying out for volleyball because I thought rowing wouldn't be a good enough workout (HA!). I gave in and made the team. My first obstacle was the swim test. Swimming happened to be the only sport I didn't try growing up, and I was terrified I was going to fail, so my dad gave me a crash course in swimming in our backyard pool. Somehow, I was able to swim a couple laps and tread water for five minutes.

    My first race was at the Snowflake Regatta in Riverhead, N.Y. Yes, the infamous "Snowflake Regatta," was my first race. My novice eight placed third out of three and we still got bronze medals, so we were thrilled. Rowing really started to click for me my first winter, and by spring, I made our top novice four and won the New York State Championship.

    When you are just starting out it's important to have fun! It can be nerve-wracking trying out something completely new, but as long as you have fun and stay patient, it's really easy to see your hard work pay off. Last spring, Sam Warren and I coached a girl's novice high school team, and we had a blast watching our athletes improve and make strides in their first season.

    Meghan Musnicki:

    I first got in a boat on the St. Lawrence River in the fall (which feels like winter up there) of 2001, my freshman year at St. Lawrence University. For whatever reason, I was designated a starboard. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing or what I was suppose to be doing and the concept of, "follow the person in front of you" was completely lost on me. I managed to pick it up immediately and I made the varsity eight for my first spring season! How many rowers did I have to beat out to make "the eight"? None. I think there were only eight of us total, but who's counting? At any rate, I remember racing up there in the spring and having water freezing in my tracks, icicles hanging off my rigger, and my legs frozen stiff with ice from backsplash. I also remember catching crabs, lots of crabs.

    If I could give advice to those starting to row for the first time, it would be two main things: 1) have fun with it. It is suppose to be fun. 2) Get yourself in a single as soon and often as possible. You may, no you will, flip, but it is the best way to learn how to move a boat.

    Olivia Coffey:

    The first time I probably ever got in a boat was in middle school. My parents took me down to the Seneca Lake canal and plopped me in a single. I remember my dad wading in a few feet and holding onto the stern of the boat while I took a few practice strokes and he steadied the shell. Before I knew it, my dad gave me a good shove and sent me out into the middle of the canal, solo. I subsequently flipped, swam over to shore, got back in the boat, and then flipped again. I eventually figured out how to stay upright and paddle around the canal cautiously, but as soon as I started to get a little excited and pull, I'd end up right back in the lake.

    Sam Dommer:

    My journey into the sport of rowing was one out of necessity, a necessity to start losing weight. The first day consisted of my dad almost pushing me out of the car for novice practice at Capital Crew, which rows at Lake Natoma in Rancho Cordova, Calif. One of my fondest memories with rowing came from that first day. The workout given was 50 jump squats, 20 pushups and a mile run. I ended the day with legs cramping, lungs burning, and being on the verge of passing out. My dad didn’t think I was going to stick with the sport, but I showed up the next day, and then the day after that. Before I knew it, I was racing for our regional championships with a boat full of friends who I still keep in contact with today.

    My advice to anyone new to the sport would be, perseverance. Rowing consists of good and bad days, the ones who succeed are the ones who show up every day, try hard, listen to the coach, and stay optimistic. The sport has changed my life and I am certain it can change yours.

    Get involved in National Learn to Row Day! Host an event at your boathouse, or find a participating club near you and learn how to row. Contact USRowing at for more information. #NLTRD
  • USRowing Training Center Trip to Sarasota

    Feb 09, 2015

    Hello from sunny Florida! My name is Molly Bruggeman and I am one of 7 rowers and 2 coxswains from the USRowing Training Center in Princeton, N.J., who have escaped the snow and ice to travel down to Sarasota.

    Not only is the water liquid (unlike Lake Carnegie) at the beautiful Nathan-Benderson park, the course is outfitted with a warm up lake and cool down loop, a wave attenuator, and plenty of sunshine. A rowers paradise!

    When I was a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame, the team trained at the course in January 2012 before it had been developed. It is awesome to see the huge improvements. We are primarily rowing in singles as a group and have been enjoying putting in meters on the 2017 World Championship course.

    Between spending time at our wonderful host families' homes, soaking up some sun, and getting in lots of rowing, erging, and lifting, we have enjoyed spending time in and around the Sarasota area. One of our coxswains, Kendall Schmidt, just won her first half marathon (ever!!) at the Sarasota Music Half Marathon and the whole group came to watch her amazing performance.

    It's been a truly awesome experience so far in our first week training at the course and we are all planning to take advantage of our next few weeks in Sarasota! Go USA!

  • Chula Vista Training Center Free Time Activites

    Feb 02, 2015

    Greetings and updates from Chula Vista Training Center.  It is that time of year again when the lake freezes over and we pack up our trailers to warmer climates.  Many good hours of training have been put in thus far and time is flying by.  While most of our days are spent training, eating, and recovering, there is always little down time to explore other interests.

    Tracy Eisser and Grace Latz are part of a growing group of hardcore knitters on the team.  They spend part of their down time creating hand made pieces of woven art.  

    Tracy explains:  “I started knitting fairly recently and love it as a way to keep my hands busy. We spend so much time recovering but I often get antsy, so knitting is a nice way to keep moving while still sitting down. My host mom offered to teach me soon after I moved in with my host family, and I am so grateful to her! She is an excellent and patient teacher and knows so much. I am currently working on a few projects - I have a pair of Norwegian-themed mittens that I hope to finish soon since they were intended to be for a friend's August. I am also trying to replicate a scarf that one of our teammates, Felice Mueller, was wearing recently. After that I don't have any more projects in mind, but I am always looking for new things to try!”

    Grace writes: “I knit as a creative outlet. I can take a project with me while traveling since it’s easy enough to pick up between practices. I knit when I have a spare chunk of time midday and in the evening since it’s a good way to unwind. I’m currently working on knitting a square a day to complete an afghan before I leave Chula Vista. So far I’m on schedule! My mother taught me how to knit when I was seven or so, but it really took off as a hobby when I started rowing in college for the same reasons I enjoy it today. I like the challenge of complicated color work, like my next project of finishing up a pair of mittens where I switch between two colors to make a series of graphic designs.” 

    Another great free time activity is daily weeknight watching of Jeopardy.  A great way to relax after dinner, well, it depends on the categories, and to test our knowledge before going to bed.

    Lauren Schmetterling goes into the details: “There is a small (and nerdy) group that assembles to watch Jeopardy most weeknights. It sometimes gets very heated, and we have a very strictly enforced rule that no one is allowed to answer until the question has been completely read. Everyone has a different favorite category: Vicky Opitz (film and TV), Tessa Gobbo (Adult fiction, specializing in Harry Potter), Tracy Eisser (French facts), Grace Latz (architecture and fruit), Felice Mueller (art), and myself (words and wordplay). Our worst categories are Roman emperors and medieval literature.”

    While most of the time we choose downtime activities that require little to no movement, i.e. knitting and Jeopardy watching.  Occasionally a surge of energy inspires something a little more active.  Recently Amanda Polk and Grace Latz decided to attempt making puppy chow/muddy buddies out of training center ingredients.  Amanda describes the inspiration and process that went into this culinary adventure:

    “While sitting in the dining hall for countless hours socializing with teammates, we are surrounded by very healthy essential nutrition...fruits, vegetables, and multiple sources of protein.  In such an atmosphere, every once and a while a girl may acquire a sweet tooth for such things like cereal, peanut butter, and even chocolate! So Grace and I decided to satisfy this craving while challenging ourselves to make muddy buddies out of the food and supplies available to us in the dining hall.  Rowers liking a challenge outside of rowing?! Crazy, I know!”

    “We scoped the scene and plotted our routine for weeks until finally we acted. Thanks to the cooperation of the Chula Vista Dining Hall Staff, Andy and Cherry, we were able to use two large mixing bowls, peanut butter, chocolate chips, butter, crispix, and powdered sugar. 

    First we tried to make a double boiler with hot water so we could melt the chocolate, peanut butter, and butter to a good consistency. It turned out we did not use a bowl large enough to submerge into the water without burning a few fingertips so we aborted that step. We then carefully warmed up the ingredients in the microwave, stirring until it was time to pour the mixture over the crispix cereal and after stirring thoroughly added the powdered sugar on top!  It was quite a scene in the dining hall. Grace and I appreciated all the support, especially all of the taste testers. The puppy chow/muddy buddy mix was a success!”

    Check back for more updates form Chula Vista Training Camp and a photo journal from Grace Luczak.

  • Head of the Charles Memories

    Oct 16, 2014


    As I finish packing up to start my journey to Boston tomorrow, I am reflecting on past trips racing at the Head of the Charles.  This will be my fifth time going to race at the Charles and with it being the 50th anniversary it is sure to be a memorable event.  Probably my favorite Head of the Charles memory would be my first time racing the there with Grace Latz, my former University of Wisconsin/Vesper Boat Club and current training center teammate.

    We both were finishing up a fifth year of college, training on our own, and decided to take on racing at the Head of the Charles.   We were lucky enough to get a bid for the women's championship double and started to train for it.  We really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  Neither of us had raced at the Head of the Charles (we never went while we were athletes in college), had never been to Boston, and had very little experience racing the double.  We practiced as much as we could on the water and did many race visualizations.

    We arrived late Friday night, made it to our hotel, and went straight to bed for our race the following day.  Our first time being on the course was our warm-up down to the basin.  As bow seat of our double, it became a quick lesson in trying to learn turns and bridges.  We made it to the bottom, lined up, and were off! 

    Grace set an impressive rhythm and pace as we cut through the bridges without issue.  We powered through Weeks Bridge, passed a boat around the Cambridge Boat Club turn, and sprinted through the finish line.

    We thought it had been a good race but had truly no idea how we had done.  We hoped for a top 10 finish.  As it turned out we had taken fifth.  For two sculling novices, we were pretty happy.  This first racing experience had me hooked on racing at the Head of the Charles in Boston, such a great city that embraces the sport of rowing on such a large-scale.  The ability to see a variety of boat classes, wide range of ages, and international competitors from all over the world makes the Head of the Charles a very unique and special regatta.  For the short time I have raced at the Head of the Charles it has gotten better and more exciting every year.  Here's to fifty more years of the Head of the Charles! 


    Click the links below to hear what Olivia Coffey and Felice Mueller, bronze medalists in the quadruple sculls at the 2014 World Rowing Championships, have to say about fall racing and the Head of the Charles.

    USRowing Training Center Blog talks to Olivia Coffey.

    USRowing Training Center Blog talks to Felice Mueller.

    Best of luck to all those racing at the Head of the Charles this weekend!


  • We are back!

    Oct 08, 2014

    It's hard to believe the 2014 World Championships has come and gone.  Team USA did a fantastic job across all events in Amsterdam!  It just goes to show everyone is working hard and continuing to push/go faster every year.  After the World Championships we were allowed to have our "summer vacation."  It was great to be able to go home, and visit family and friends.  

    Women's 8+

    Our summer break concluded with an exhibition race at The Milwaukee River Challenge in Milwaukee, WI.  It was wonderful to have some of the training center squad come to my home state - WISCONSIN.  Our eight was made up 

    of Katelin Snyder, Felice Mueller, me (Vicky Opitz), Kerry Simmonds, Grace LuczakAdrienne MartelliEmily HuelskampKristine O'Brien, and Grace Latz.  It was a trip down memory lane for myself and Grace Latz.  We had raced the Milwaukee River Challenge when we were in college at Wisconsin.  The course was still a scenic and tough one to race particularly because there was some serious wind!  The race goes through downtown Milwaukee, under many bridges, and next to people eating lunch along the water front.  The course is especially fun for the coxwain.  At one point in the race there an almost 90 degree turn to port side - a little hard on us starboards.  Katelin handled the turn like a pro, which helped us secure our winning time.  The men's team also fielded an eight that blazed down the course taking first place.  The Milwaukee River Challenge was a great race and a good way to transition to fall head race season.    

     Men and Women of USRowing Training Center

    This fall we are doing some mini-video interviews with USRowing Training Center athletes.  The first two athletes are Emily Regan, silver medalist in the women's four at the 2014 World Rowing Championships, and Grace Latz, bronze medalist in the women's quadruple sculls at the 2014 World Rowing Championships.  Click on the links below to hear them talk about fall head racing and future rowing appearances.    


    Stay checked in for more upcoming interviews with USRowing Training Center athletes!

  • World Cup 2 and Holland Beker

    Jul 27, 2014


    When summer racing picks up it really takes off!  It feels like the team has constantly been on the go since leaving for World Cup 2 and the Holland Beker.  With a chance to finally catch up here is a recap of our trip to France and the Netherlands.

    After a long day of travel (consisting of two plane rides and then a two hour bus ride to our hotel) we made it to the town of Aix-Les-Bains, about a 30 minute bus ride away from the World Cup 2 racecourse.  


    World Cup 2 offered up a unique opportunity for the women in the sweep group.  We doubled up in four pairs that went into the eight.  It had been a long time since I doubled up in a regatta.  The days of racing 11 times at Canadian Henley are a little different than racing two extremely competitive events at a World Cup.  It was a fantastic experience.  I was lucky enough to be paired up with Meghan Musnicki.  Our first challenge in racing the pair together was making it through the time trial format that replaced the heats.  A time trail is when they send boats down the 2k course one at a time, thus racing the clock as opposed to racing other boats side by side.  As I learned, FISA likes to test this system out just in case they need to use it if weather disrupts the normal racing progression.  Meghan and I went from time trial to semi, semi to final.  All the USA women’s pairs had made it into the A final on Sunday…resulting with 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th place finishes.  


    With about an hour and a half of rest we got hands on the eight and headed back out on to the water.  Warming up for the eight’s race was a blur and suddenly we were off.  Honestly it was one of the most thrilling and painful races of my life.  Coxwain Katelin Snyder did an amazing job.  I don’t really remember much of the beginning of the race, but at 600 meters to go Katelin told us we had to make our move and we did.  It was an incredible moment when you feel everyone come together and just push with this new type of energy.  We were called up seat by seat.  “You are three seats down, one seat down…give me one more seat and we are even!”  In those last 10 strokes we moved ahead to just beat out Canada.  It was an exhausting and thrilling end to our World Cup 2 trip.  

    The USA had an impressive haul of medals.  The men’s four came in third, women’s quadruple sculls second, women’s double sculls second and to finish out the day men’s eight came in first!  I could not have been more impressed and proud of all my teammates!


    With World Cup 2 behind us we headed to Amsterdam for the Holland Beker regatta and future site of the 2014 World Rowing Championships.  Amsterdam was a nice change of scene.  Gone was the 30 minute bus ride to the course, now only a 20 minute walk away from our hotel.  The temperature was cooler and the food was terrific.  The Holland Beker provided the opportunity for a lot of the women at the training center to switch up boat classes and try something different.  This was my first experience racing a quad as part of team USA.  It was really fun (and at times stressful- bowing a quad!) controlling two oars instead of one.  We had a great racing experience at the Holland Beker and the entire US team is looking forward to returning there for the World Championships.

  • Happy Father's Day! (Part 2)

    Jun 15, 2014

    To celebrate Father’s Day, today's post is Part 2 from Starboard side and coxswain.  Here are the three questions that were posed to the women at the national team training center. 

    1. How has your father been involved in your athletic life?

    2. What is you favorite and/or funniest father athletic memory? 

    3. Any inspirational quotes or sayings from your father?

    Below are their answers complete with a favorite photo of the athlete and her dad.


    Vicky Opitz

    1.  My Dad has been involved in every aspect of my athletic life.  From being my first youth soccer coach, Dad taxi service, ball passer to work on jump shots, to tennis partner, and number one fan!  He has always been extremely supportive.  Putting up with my sports highs and lows and encouraging me to follow my athletic dreams.

    2.  It is hard to pick a favorite and/or funny memory.  The memories that stand out to me the most are just blasting music really loud through the whole house (early on Jock Jams) to wake up to early in the morning on the day of competition.  This musical sequence would carry on into the car with a pump up speech given while "Eye of the Tiger" was being played in the background.  It was a perfect balance of serious advice with fun undertone.  To this day some of the early morning music dad played is on my ipod mix to get me pumped up to race.

    3.  My Dad has two quotes…“Do or do not, there is no try” – Yoda (always said in Yoda voice) and the other “We (both parents) love and support you.”  The last is always the most important to me.  No matter what I am going through both parents are always there no matter what.


    Grace Luczak

    1.  Motown & Oldies from my dad's Jukebox have had a long lasting impact on my athletic musical taste. Now all of my teammates can benefit with a little Aretha Franklin for warm-ups. "R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Sock it to me, sock it to me."

    2.  My dad teaching me how to do a hook - shot at our neighborhood basketball court. We spent what seemed like hours going over the minutia of this game changing weapon to the post arsenal.  Just when I thought I had it down, my Uncle Todd swooped in from the sidelines with a major block. Dad's are there to build you up & uncle's keep you in check.

    3. "If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself." -Henry Ford & my dad

    Amanda Polk

    1. When I was 5, my Dad was the coach of my very first athletic team, Soccer.  I loved having my Dad at every practice and game and knowing that he was leading my team to VICTORY...and sometimes to get ice cream, when games did not quite go our way (still a win in my mind)!   The only thing I had a hard time understanding was why I was always the goalie.  It was a coed team and I felt I could contribute more by playing the field, but I never questioned him. Eventually, I realized my Dad was doing what was best for the team.  I was the BIGGEST one on the team...I guess he thought there was a good chance I would block it...yup, did I mention it was Co-ed?!

    (2nd story that fits picture)

    Basketball was the sport that my Dad and I really bonded over.  I played from third grade to a senior in high school.  He and I spent countless hours in the backyard working on post moves, boxing out, free throws and layup after layup.  He played in a league himself and so we often fed off one another through the drills. For every away game he drove me to, my Dad and I listened to the song “Jump” by Van Halen.  As we sang the lyrics together,“Oh can’t you see what I mean? Might as well jump. Jump! Go ahead, jump. Jump!”  He would pump me up, commentating on how strong I would be boxing out the other team, rebounding and breaking away down the court, executing the “up and under” post move.  In that song I was unstoppable!  In that song, my Dad was my confidence and my strength.

     2. When I was a sophomore in high school, my novice four qualified for nationals in Oakridge, TN.  We traveled eight hours one way with our four boat shell on top of my teammate’s Dad’s Suburban, with my Dad as his co-pilot and five high school girls in the back.  A couple hours into the trip, we quickly took a study break and were admiring the “cool” elastic spandex fabric leopard printed book covers that my teammate had on her books.  My Dad asked to see one of them, so she took it off her book and handed it to him.  He looked at the book cover and then placed it on his head, looking like he just grew a mullet with cat ears.  We all started cracking up and quickly grabbed a few more covers to copy my Dad’s new fashion statement.  Once all seven of us had a book cover on our head, one of our favorite songs came on, “500 miles” and instead of singing “walk 500 miles,” we sang “ROW 500 miles”.  We drove for hours with this new look, all seven of us had a different vibrant color or printed “cat mullet”, and sang that song a million times if not more...let’s just say that the looks that we got while passing other cars were priceless.

    3.  As we warmed up on the water before every race, my Dad would find my boat and yell, “OPEN A BIG CAN OF WHOOP ASS!” as he gestured opening a large can of soda.

    Susan Francia

    1.  My dad was always very supportive as I grew up trying out different sports.  In high school I had banned my mother from coming to my basketball games because her loud cheering and coaching were embarrassing me, so my dad came in her spot.  During the games he just clapped and afterwards told me I did a good job (no matter how badly I played!).

    2.  My dad was always challenging me to athletic competitions but he always won the pull up competition and could swim the length of the pool in one breath. I'm still training to beat him at those things!

    3.  Regarding rowing as a career... "This is all just fun and games" 

    Kendall Schmidt

    1.  I am the only person in my family to ever try rowing.  We are primarily a soccer family.  My Dad also went to the University of Wisconsin where he was a goalie on the Men's soccer team.  However, more impressively, he still competitively plays today at age 53 (hope this doesn't embarrass you Dad).  He introduced my older brother and I to soccer each at about age 5 which we both immediately fell in love with it.  He was an assistant coach on my select team as well as my high school team while growing up.  That meant that he was on the sideline of most of my games.  I loved having my Dad as a coach because he was honest.  Whether I was playing great or terrible, he was going to tell me the truth.  He also taught me to be tough, to be scrappy, and to always get back up when you fall.  

    2.  One of my favorite memories of my Dad is from one of the many indoor games I came to watch him play at.  I would always sit right behind the net of which ever goal he was defending during the game and talk to him.  I still don't know how he handled me as a distraction.  Anyway, at this game I found a friend, another girl my age who's Dad played on the other team.  We sat together behind my Dad's goal and watched the game.  Unfortunately, he wasn't having a good game and had just let an easy goal through.  Before he could catch himself, he began using a list of explicit words that most kids our age should never repeat.  The other girl was not sure how to react.  Soon after the rant, she pointed out her dad and asked me which one was mine.  I smiled really big and was proud to answer.

    Tessa Gobbo

    1.  My father taught my twin brother and I to skate at a very young (three I think). I remember countless afternoons and nights at the ice rink in the town over, but I cannot remember when we first began going. Skating was just an activity my father enjoyed that he could share with the whole family. 

    My father is not a competitive man, but I am, and skating began to fuel my urge to win at any sporting activity I got involved. I originally went to high school wanting to play ice hockey, but after I found my prep schools rowing team I realized there was new sport I belonged with.

    2.  Before every hockey game my dad would give me the short pep talk to put the puck in the net and to stay out of the box of shame. When I started rowing that pep talk stuck around for a bit, but then he developed a new rowing pep talk, which really underlined the basic race strategy. “Get in front, and then stay and front. If you’re not in front get in front by the finish.”

    I received this pep talk before every high school and college race and still get a Skype call or email with the pep talk when we race abroad or he can’t make it to a race.

    3.  “Put the puck in the net, the biscuit in the basket” –Ken Gobbo


    Jill Carlson

    1.  While my father himself was never much of an athlete, he likes to claim that had he known what rowing was in his youth he would have become a coxswain (in spite of his 6-foot-tall frame).  However, his lack of first hand experience with the sport has never dampened his enthusiasm as he has stood in all winds and weather to watch almost every one of my and my brother's races over the last twelve years.

    2.  In college, my father was known as the guy who would sometimes appear in the bushes on the banks of the Charles, his long lens camera in hand, ready to capture shots of me and my teammates.  Thanks to him, I now have hundreds of photos of the eight women in my boat in action, poised and pulling together... and me glaring straight at him and his camera out of sheer embarrassment.

    3.  My father would always tell me as a kid: "Remember, Jill, no one ever remembers who comes in second place." Although he tried to rescind this statement when my crews got second at junior nationals... and Eastern Sprints... and the Head of the Charles...!

    Katelin Snyder

    1.  My dad is the reason I started rowing.  I broke my leg (twice) playing soccer, so I decided to try a new sport.  When we were looking at the list of sports at my high school, he saw rowing and said "no way, you can't do that... it would be way too hard for you".  So I did it, obviously... and am still proving him wrong to this day!!

    2. I've had a lot of arguments about rowing with my dad - like he thinks he knows which teams have the best coaches, and all the history and tradition behind every program, and he pretends like he knows all the NCAA rules... but really he is just going off a hunch and really has no idea what rowing is. 

    3. "don't have any boyfriends until you've graduated college" 



    Thank you to all the athletes and their father's for sharing such great memories and photos.  Happy Father's Day to all Dads out there.

  • Happy Father's Day! (Part 1)

    Jun 13, 2014

    For the athletes at the training center our parents play a huge role in our journey toward the 2016 Rio Olympics. With Father’s Day this weekend many of women’s team have been reflecting on Dad with the love, support, and humor they have (and continue) to give in forming our athletic selves. 

    To celebrate Father’s Day, three questions were posed to the women at the national team training center. 

    • 1. How has your father been involved in your athletic life?
    • 2. What is you favorite and/or funniest father athletic memory? 
    • 3. Any inspirational quotes or sayings from your father?

    Many women responded so, Part 1 of the Father’s Day post will be from Port side.  Below are their answers complete with a favorite photo of the athlete and her dad.

    Kerry Simmonds

    1. My Dad has always supported my athletic endeavors. From being my basketball mentor to one of my biggest rowing fans. What I appreciate about my Dad is that not only has he helped support my rowing aspirations financially and emotionally, but he has also made an effort to learn about rowing. By keeping up to date with rowing photos/results, reading online blogs and watching races, he has become a passionate supporter of rowing and has also come to understand the significance of certain goals that I have reached or aspire to reach. His genuine interest in learning about a sport I am so passionate about has meant a lot to me. 

    2. Looking back, one of my favorite “dad-daughter athletic memories” are the drives home with my Dad from my high school basketball games. Just him and I going over the game together. Sometimes it’s the little things :-)

    3. I can’t say I remember any specific quotes from my Dad, but I will say he was always very good about keeping things in perspective and approaching games/races with a healthy mindset. He would help in reminding me that my best was good enough and that giving your best is what makes the sport fun. At the end of the day, win or lose it was not the end of the world nor should it be. Thanks Dad. 

    Meghan Musnicki

    1. My dad was always involved in my athletic life.  He never missed a game and was often, much to my chagrin, the LOUDEST one in the stands. He took me to the field and kicked the soccer ball around with me, he was my rebounder in the driveway while I practiced my jump shot, and he funded numerous sports camps.  Dad was always there and always willing to help.

    2. My favorite memory would have to be when dad came up to the St. Lawrence river and watched me row in my first race for St. Lawrence University.  It was FREEZING cold, the water was hanging in icicles off our riggers.  Never mind that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and I probably caught 3 crabs, I made the Varsity 8 (ok so there were only 8 of us) and dad was there on shore cheering me on.  The reason this is my favorite sporting memory with my dad is because that would be the only time my dad every saw me row as he passed away later that year.   

      3.  When things were tough Dad always used to say "Keep on keeping on".  Pretty simple but when you are struggling and feel like you aren't going anywhere and it seems like it would be easier to just stop-don't. Work through it and come out the other side in a better place.  Oh, another one of my personal favorites, "yes, princess".  Seemed to always work out well for me when he said that! 

    Adrienne Martelli

    1. My dad has been a pretty big part of my sports career. When I was younger, he would always be willing to shoot hoops in the driveway or throw the softball around in the backyard, whatever help I needed to improve my skill set. If I ever wanted to do some type of camp, he encouraged me to pursue it. As I progressed into rowing (not so easily practiced at home), he has been a constant supporter and a voice of reason during tough times. 

    2. One of my favorite father sports stories comes from the 2012 Olympics. We were just starting our warm-up when I glanced towards the backside of the grandstands and saw my dad. He gave me a brief smile and a small thumbs-up that brought a certain sense of calm.

    3. Sports quotes are somewhat of a running joke in my family. Both my parents are big golfers so if we happen to be watching a tournament on TV, at some point there is usually a volley of "Drive for show, putt for dough," "Never up, never in," "No guts, no glory," finished off with a "Winners never quit and quitters never win."

    Felice Mueller

    1. My dad has always encouraged us to be active. He set a precedent for athletics in our lives by staying fit and involved in competition himself, showing us by example that it was important to prioritize athletic endeavors when possible. He would bring us along with him to play golf, tennis, run, ski, swim... as well as sign us up for countless lessons and camps. Unfortunately, it took all three kids a while to appreciate the value of athletics and we ended up spending the majority of the time we should have been learning new, exciting sports messing around. I recall one beautiful day my dad took us all golfing, and after about four holes of golf our attentions were maxed out, so we drove the golf cart into a sand pit. However, with time we all began to appreciate active lifestyles, which can no doubt be attributed to the example my dad set.

    2. When I decided I wanted to try out for the Junior National Team, I was strongly encouraged to show up for a 2k at Crash B's. The Junior Team coaches would be there watching and have an informational session on the selection process after the 2k was over. I had no idea what I was in for, but my dad said he would take me and having him there would be comforting. Walking into the event, I was shocked and intimidated by the size and the numbers and all of the people! My dad and I sat in the arena watching the groups before mine pull their 2ks. We saw people falling of ergs and people throwing up on to the ground. There was even a little throw up crew that came around with buckets to clean up the mess, meaning the event coordinator had expected people to throw up after testing. My dad looked over at me and said I didn't have to do it if I didn't want to. But against better judgement I said I did, and soon enough I was warming up on an erg with my dad sitting behind me ready to "cox" me through my race. I don't remember what he said during the race but he did mislead me to think I was in first place (I wasn't) and he did tell me not to hurt myself too much(the point of a 2k is to see how hard you can hurt yourself).

    It was by far and away the worst coxing through a 2k test I have ever received, but in the end, thanks to my dad's support, I pulled a time that would get me invited to camp and I made the team.

    3. "Freak of nature" Whenever one of us kids does something extraordinary my dad will use the affectionate term, freak-a-zoid or freak of nature to describe us. I've always liked being called that. It makes me think I can do anything. 

    Olivia Coffey 

    1. Something that sticks out for me is how much time I spent with my dad driving to ice hockey competitions when I was growing up. I played for a team called the Syracuse Stars, which was based two hours away from my home, and competitions were even further away! My dad and I would drive all over the Northeast and Canada together.  During our drives we talked about all sorts of things. I learned a lot about my dad and he taught me a lot as well. Looking back, I can't believe he was ever so willing take me to all of those places but I'm really glad he did because it made us so close.

    2. Whenever I call my dad and tell him my peak power scores he usually calls me back the next day and tells me that he did the same test and beat me. He keeps me in check.

    3. “The good thing about chopping firewood is that it warms you twice.” 

    Emily Regan

    1. When I was younger my dad was usually the one to drive me to all of my swimming practices. He'd stay and watch practice almost every day.  He always had advice for me on my way home, which I never wanted to listen to.  It turns out he was spot on with a lot of the things he would tell me.  It just took me some years of trial by error with different sports to figure out what he was saying was actually really good advice. 

    2. All of the long drives my dad and I would take for swimming competitions when I was younger.  But now, it would be going to the gym with him when I have a chance to make it home.

    3. My dad has so many different things he's told me over time. 

    Caroline Lind

    1. My dad is my personal hero.  His accomplishments in sports and life give me my role model for sports and life.  

    My dad has always been involved.  He and my mother have attended all my games and swim meets when I lived at home.  When I went away to college my parents came up from NC to every single Princeton race except Dartmouth, including other away races.  This involvement and support from my dad has always given me the confidence I need to fight and keep going. 

    2. When I was younger my dad used to take me down to Duke every year to see the Blue White game where the current team scrimmages and then the old timers scrimmage.  My dad and I still go down to Duke basketball games and football games together.  I am proud to complete for the US in international competition and I feel like I am making my father proud every race and every practice!


    Part 2 of Happy Father's Day tomorrow will feature starboard side and coxswain.

  • Q & A with Olympian Will Daly

    Jun 09, 2014


    This week, USRowing caught up with Will Daly, seven-time U.S. National Team rower and 2008 Olympian in the lightweight four.  Will has taken the time to answer some questions before his Row to Rio USRowing Training Center Athlete Twitter Chat, Wednesday, June 11 from 1-2 p.m. EDT.

    USRowing: How did you first get introduced to rowing?  What inspires you to continue to train at an elite level?

    Will Daly: I started rowing in high school, my biology teacher freshmen year was also the rowing coach and he invited me down to the boat house to try out rowing.  I started having aspirations to row at the elite level after a coach of mine in college asked if I would be interested in trying out for the under 23 team.

    USR:  What is your favorite part about training?

    WD:  Pushing my limits. Finding that I am able to push myself harder than I ever thought possible is hugely rewarding.

    USR:  If you weren't an elite rowing athlete, what other sport (sports) would you be doing?

    WD:  Honestly I have no idea, I have thought about trying to do a marathon or an iron man triathlon when I am done rowing.

    USR:  What has been your most memorable rowing experience?  

    WD:  Winning the World Championships in 2008 was pretty memorable, also making the A final last year at the World Championships was pretty incredible.  The four hasn't made the A final in a while and it was hugely rewarding to finally accomplish that.

    USR:  What is the best advice you have been given in your rowing career thus far?  What advice would you give to young rowers?

    WD:  Actually I was just talking to Mike Wherley and he said something that I found to be very useful.  Summed up he basically said that no matter how strong you are you need to keep an open mind to changing what you are doing to get faster.  For young rowers I would say the ability to focus and I mean really focus on every aspect of every stroke through an entire practice will pay greater dividends in the long run than you can imagine.  It took me a long time to figure this out, but once I did I started improving much more quickly.

    USR:  What are you looking forward to in the 2014 racing season?

    WD:  Racing.  I am really excited about our boat this year.  With three returning members and one new one we have shown some really exciting speed in practice and are looking forward to testing ourselves internationally.

    USR:  Thank you Will!  Will is ready to answer your tough questions.  Join in for the #RowToRioChat with Will on Wednesday, June, 11, 1-2 p.m. EDT.   During the live chat, be sure to follow and send your questions directly to Will Daly at (@willrowdaly) and (@USRowing) using hashtag #rowtoriochat.


  • Howell Living Farm - Hometown Teams Exhibit

    May 28, 2014

    Last weekend our training schedule opened up to allow for our first real Sunday off in a couple of weeks. A few of us training center athletes were given the opportunity to attend a reception to highlight rowing as part of the Smithsonian’s Hometown Teams - How Sports Shape America traveling exhibition. This exhibit brings into focus the influence of sports on hometowns. New Jersey is the first state that the exhibit is visiting and the farm is one of six spots that it will be on display. The exhibit features photographs, artifacts and memorabilia that tell the stories of the hometown teams and the communities that shape and are shaped by sports.

    Arriving early before the reception began Emily Huelskamp- 2013 World Champion in the women’s four without coxin, Adrienne Martelli - 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in the women’s quadruple sculls, and myself were able to take a tour of Howell Living Farm. Howell Living Farm is part of the Mercer County Park system, and is operated and maintained as it was in the 1890s. Walking around the farm you were able to get a glimpse of what life was like at the turn of the century. A favorite of Adrienne and Emily’s trip was getting to see all the farm animals, especially the sheep and their energetic lambs.

    After our tour of the Farm, we were joined by Grant and Ross James, 2012 Olympians in the men’s eight, and Barb and Kris Grudt from the Princeton National Rowing Association to give a brief Q&A about rowing in the local community and how sports have shaped our lives.



    It was a really great opportunity to share with the community a little about being U.S. National Team Training Center athlete and to see this fun Smithsonian traveling exhibit. I recommend taking a trip to the Howell Living Farm, not only to experience the farm’s past but also to check out a fun and interactive exhibit that all ages will enjoy. Interested in going? Hometown Teams - How Sports Shape America is on display in the Charles Fish barn at the farm's Visitor Center through June 22 during the farm's regular operating hours. 


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