Crew competes at Head of the Rock Regatta

Fanny Lau

The Lawrence University Rowing Club traveled to Rockford, Ill. last month to compete in the Annual BAIRD Head of the Rock Regatta. More than 1,700 rowers gathered to race in a 5 k stretch down the Rock River. The schools represented included some Big Ten Conference teams, as well as other Division I, II and III schools.

Rowing Club President Patrick Pylvainen revealed, “The Head of the Rock Regatta was a crucial one because it gave us the chance to show the Midwest region what Lawrence is capable of, even as a small school.”

The Vikings were certainly able to display their combination of strength and skill when the Novice Women’s 8+ team placed first in their division, taking home their second gold medal for the fall season. Their first win was cinched at the Tail of the Fox Regatta in De Pere, Wisc., at St. Norbert College. At this first regatta of the season, an impressive four out of seven Lawrence University boats placed in the top three boats of their division.

Though these wins are remarkable, the team took greater pride in their members’ dedication and perseverance throughout the season. Sophomore rower Olivia Gruebel divulged that even though it “felt like her lungs were about to fall out of her body” as she crossed the finish line as part of the Novice Women’s 8+ boat, she was “proud that all the hard work her team put in at practice paid off.”

As to be expected with any club sport, the rowing club faces the challenge of competing against schools with bigger resources and athlete pools. However, Pylvainen believes that Lawrence Rowing Club is unique in that the club’s small size “promotes an atmosphere of trust and good work ethic” so that they can “push for the dream.”

Sophomore Will Melnick, varsity coxswain, echoed the same sentiments, but stressed that this “dream” is a collective one. A crew coxswain since his sophomore year of high school, Melnick said that “you are not just relying on yourself in rowing, you have to be able to work with other people in a way that you don’t in other sports.”

It does not help to be stronger, faster, or taller than everyone else in the boat because in the end you are only as fast as your weakest rower. Through this, the Lawrence crew “has a connection with each other that is unmatched through another sport.” Melnick encouraged those interested in experiencing this connection as either a rower or a coxswain to contact him.

Last weekend, the crew team traveled to Indianapolis, Ind. to compete in the Head of the Eagle Regatta.