Cathedral Catholic Juniors Bringing Strength in Numbers to WRIC/USRIC

As entries continue to roll in for the 2019 World Rowing Indoor Championships/USRowing Indoor National Championships, rowers at Cathedral Catholic High School have made a clear statement: they are showing up in force.

Making the most of its proximity to Long Beach, Calif., the San Diego-based team has readily scheduled the event into its calendar, entering a total of 42 competitors across five categories. Head coaches Arthur Sloate and Jeff Kiser have made the WRIC/USRIC an event their entire program will attend, as they prepare to put their indoor training to the test.

Eight years ago, when Sloate launched the rowing program at Cathedral Catholic with the support of the athletic director and parents, it brought in 40 participants in its first year. In the years following, Cathedral has consistently had around 60 oarsmen and women. Acknowledging that most students who joined the team had no prior experience, the decision was made to make the team inclusive to all who are interested. He also has made it clear that all who do their part by attending practices, get to race.

Recognizing how few scholastic teams exist in California, Sloate continues his push to bring rowing to more schools in the area. He, and those involved in Cathedral Catholic Crew, have helped to launch programs at Sweetwater Union and Gompers Preparatory Academy, which have limited funding for extracurricular activities. Continuing to work to bring rowing in all forms to new athletes, Cathedral Catholic lends equipment to those programs and assists in transportation to and from events.

Three years ago, Jeff Kiser joined the team as the new head coach for boys, while Sloate remained the head coach for girls. The two have coached the team through races against some top competitors, like Marin Rowing Association and Oakland Strokes. Keeping the mindset ‘to be the best, you have to compete against the best,’ Sloate and Kiser are looking forward to the WRIC/USRIC.

USRowing had the opportunity to catch up with the two Cathedral Catholic coaches this week to discuss the upcoming championships.

Why does Cathedral have such a high level of participation in the WRIC/USRIC?

AS: We think it’s important that [our athletes] see not just other high school kids competing at a high level, but those from the international level. [It gives] them the opportunity to talk to these athletes, to see them in action and see that there’s a wider world than just what we’re competing in.

JK: When I took over as head coach for the boys, I made the then Beach Sprints a qualifying event for my team. I remember competing in this event back in the early 90s and wanted them to have the same experience.

What are you most excited about in having all of your athletes participate in this international event?

AS: Everyone has a goal of making incremental improvements on their 2,000-meter test times. It’s great for them to see how their training affects their performance. This world championships is a data point, and we are focusing on it in that regard. It’s going to affect seat racing; it’s going to affect boatings. But, it’s not the be-all and end-all. It is a tool that I’m using to continue our improvement.

JK: I think the overall exposure of what’s possible at the next level of rowing will be a great eye opener to see what some of the world’s best can do. We want them to compete, but we also want them to have fun cheering on their teammates and get to watch some races.

How is looking forward to WRIC/USRIC affecting your athletes?

JK: They’re excited about it. Since our program doesn’t have the luxury to be on the water every day due to the proximity to our boathouse, we do utilize the erg quite a bit. Everyone was required to row a minimum of 50 kilometers for the 10 school days they had out [for the holidays], plus six alternate workouts.

Why is the inclusion of indoor rowing so important?

JK: Although we benefit from great weather in Southern California, we can’t always afford to be on the water as often as we’d like. Half of the time on the water is spent on technique and the subtleties of the rowing stroke. The only way to ensure that our conditioning is on par with our competition is by creating and sustaining a solid cardio structure to make that possible. Indoor rowing is the biggest contributor to doing that. It also allows us to break down the rowing stroke in a much more simplistic approach.

What is special about the competition side of indoor rowing?

AS: Competition is competition. It just gives us an opportunity, being a world championship, to see people that we wouldn’t normally see. You can be just as competitive indoor as you can on the water because you’re sitting right next to someone. In fact, you’re even closer to them, and you can sense how hard they’re working. You just have to look up at the display and can see the effect of a power 10. That is a very unique benefit of indoor competition.

JK: You train, you prepare and you know how to gauge your speed and pace at practice. With the adrenaline pumping, it’s often very possible to go further at these events than you had anticipated. Digging deep gets re-defined at the junior level.

To register for the 2019 World Rowing Indoor Championships/USRowing Indoor Championships taking place February 24 at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif., visit RegattaCentral.

For more information, visit USRowing.

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