17 other colleges and around 65 teams from Alaska to Colorado will be competing with the Augustana Rowing Crew club as they head into its biggest meet of the season, the Head of the Rock Regatta in Rockford, Ill.
While the team is still adapting to a new coach and new methods, the Rockford meet is important for showcasing the growth the club has made during this “rebuilding year.”
“Rockford is a big race, with a lot of schools competing,” head coach Rick Shaffer said. “We are in a rebuilding year, with a kind of start over. Being the new coach, I have come in and changed things up on the athletes. We are a young team with tons of potential and a lot of drive.”
The new coaching style and the veteran experience brought by Shaffer has helped to push the team.
“They have a new coach this year, so the training regiment has been much more rigorous,” club adviser Deborah Bracke said. “He emphasizes conditioning, and he has a lot of experience with competitive rowing. I think that will have a positive influence on how well the team does at Rockford.”
Already seeing improvements, captain Clair Wright expects Augie to place higher on this meet than in previous years.
“I think everyone should do pretty well, Wright said. “We have a new coach this year, and he is a lot more competitive. I’ll be interested see how that goes.”
The Viking’s newcomers have only raced in small meets such as Moline. The team’s past meets are a stepping stone for this large up and coming meet.
“The novice, hopefully, Moline was a small introduction so that will introduce them to what a race looks like and hopefully that will give them a feel how Rockford will be,” Wright said.
Overall, Shaffer said he is happy to be coaching the Augustana crew club and believes this meet to be a starting point for meets and seasons to come.
“I have to say that I am proud to work with these studens athletes,” Shaffer said. “(Rockford)will act as a springboard for higher expectations in the future.”