At 6 o’clock in the morning, most University of Portland students are deep in their REM cycles and dreaming about their Bib Trad classes or the amazing commons lunch they are going to enjoy that day. What most students don’t realize is, while they are fast asleep; the UP Women’s Crew team is already out on the freezing water of the Willamette River pushing themselves faster and harder.
A well-unknown fact is that the most inconspicuous team on campus just happens to be one of the hardest working and most dedicated athletes among us. The women of UP Crew perform an unprecedented and intense work out regiment weekly to progress their skills and endurance when they are our on the water.
During the week, practices are scheduled every morning at 5:45 am when the team either heads to the boathouse or starts their dry land training. The boathouse is located downtown and is shared with many other corporations such as the PSU Crew Team and Rose City Rowing Club.
This may all sound somewhat normal for Division-1 sports teams but what sets UP Rowing apart from all others is their off season: they don’t have one. While most sports have different training and practice schedules for off-season and in-season, the women of UP crew push themselves physically and mentally all year round. Even on those rainy days when being in the water on the boats is impossible they have a solution for that: it’s called an ergometer machine and it simulates the intensity and endurance of a race. In addition to these grueling boat workouts, the team also has additional training on Tuesdays and Thursdays consisting of either a weight room workout or a cardio compilation.
Team Captain, junior Kayla Russell says that in order to be successful on the team you have to “be willing to push yourself to a state you never thought you’d get to.”
The hardest part of the training program, according to Kayla, is the mental toughness aspect. She says it can get repetitive and hard to focus when you have to perform the same movement over and over again and that it is sometimes hard to see the big picture improvements for the entire team. Kayla said, “It can seem like an individual sport but out on the boat there’s more than just one person.”
Weight training coach, Catherine Wade, most commonly known as Coach Cat, describes the UP Crew team as the most mentally in sync team on campus. She claims, “They are able to withstand greater intensity longer than any other sport.” This sport is all about endurance and our athletes are deceivingly tough. Coach Cat agrees that these girls have one of the toughest training regiments on campus and the early morning hours only add to the difficulty. Does she have any advice for students looking to be successful in an intense sport like rowing? “Nutrition and sleep habits need to be on point or it will be a tough go!”
If you’re interested in UP Crew and want some more information, visit the team website. Next time you see a rower on campus, give her a little credit, she’s been working her butt off while you were sleeping!