By Sarah Wizner
At the beginning of this school year, the Union Women’s Crew Team welcomed not only a new boat of novice rowers, but also welcomed Burt Apfelbaum as a new coach.
With the arrival of the new coach came a new feeling for the team. The team started off their fall season strong, and Apfelbaum asked the team to remain strong and improve throughout the season.
When the team came back from winter break, they started winter training immediately, and the intensity and strength of the entire team instantly began to improve.
With 6 a.m. lifts and 5 p.m. practices, the girls embraced all the hard work and really looked forward to improving as a team.
Senior captain, Ilyena Kozain, was especially impressed, stating, “The girls have never been stronger, and we’ve cultivated a team that values trust, dedication and intensity.”
With this renewed team attitude, the team flew down to Tampa, Fla., for spring break to start training for the season.
The girls were eager to get on the water after being stuck indoors all winter training on the rowing machines.
“There is nothing quite like being on the water after an entire winter on the rowing machines,” stated Caitlyn Collins ’14.
“Rowing inside is just not the same as being in a boat with your team all working toward the same goal,” Isabel McRae ’14 added.
The enthusiasm for getting on the water definitely helped to get the entire team through the tiring week of two practices a day.
The upperclassman rowers and the novice rowers really got to know each other on and off the water throughout the week in Tampa.
The team, along with the men’s crew team, took a night off to go see the Tampa Bay Lightning play. Another fun outing with the two teams involved a trip to an area air show with Coach Apfelbaum.
By the end of the week, there was a noticeable change in the attitudes of the girls. Even Kozain noticed the difference, stating, “There is a genuine feeling of friendship and camaraderie among the girls.”
The team returned to campus to start their season, feeling stronger than ever. Their first race was against Skidmore on April 5, so there was no time to waste when the girls got back from their training trip.
After winning every race against Skidmore, the girls really began to realize that all their hard work was paying off.
When asked where this change was coming from, Kozain stated, “Our new coach, Burt Apfelbaum, has been instrumental in cultivating this culture of intensity and dedication and in our future success.”
After coming off their first race with a win, the girls were motivated to continue doing well.
During their second race on April 12 against University of Albany, they also won every race. This showing just continued the girls’ desire to do well, and this desire showed on April 13, in a race in Worcester, Mass.
The Worcester race is unique because there are three other teams that the Dutchwomen get to race against, as opposed to just one team, like in most other races.
During the Worcester race, the Dutchwomen definitely made their presence known. The second varsity boat won their race by three seconds.
Rhea Howard ’14, who is six seat in the boat, stated, “The Union women have worked really hard over the winter months, and I think that these results prove that we are entering the season stronger than we ever have. Of course, we can thank the hockey team for some of the momentum; we definitely felt the need to carry on the Dutchman flame! I think that, as a boat, we just focused, pulled away and then followed through at the sprint.”
Both the varsity boat and the novice women put up a good fight during this race.
Looking forward, the girls are excited to visit Hamilton on Wednesday, April 16, and then host Rochester Institute of Technology on April 19.
While the season can be demanding at times, the girls are really excited to just make their presence known. As Kozain said, “We hope to continue surprising our competitors and taking this season by storm!”
Make sure to check out the boathouse and cheer on U crew!