Opportunity Awaits

March 27, 2006

The opportunity to learn a new sport and train to win at the Division I college level is not a chance many students choose to take advantage of. It also does not seem like something many students would know about. Rowing may not be a well known sport in Iowa, but the novice rowing team gives young women at Iowa a great opportunity.

For women whose career in sports ended in high school, rowing is another chance to compete. An athlete who is tough, athletic, loves to go all out, and wants to be surrounded by the same kind of people can find a niche on the rowing team.

Iowa Head Coach Mandi Kowal says the opportunity is a good one for the right student-athletes.

On average, about 100 women try out for the team and about 70 are chosen. By the end of the season, the team is whittled down to about 20-30 through self-selection. Many of these individuals will then have the opportunity to make it to the varsity team.

The novice team is what prepares the women for varsity. They train just like the varsity team; on the water, in the weight room, and on the ergs. During the year, they train at least five days a week. In the spring, as they get closer to their season, they add Saturday practices.

Competitions for novice and varsity squads differ by only a few races. During the fall season, the novice team races only twice, but during the spring, the race schedule is similar to that of the varsity. The novice team also gets to compete at the Regional, Big Ten and Central Regional Championships. When the varsity team qualifies for the NCAA’s, athletes from the novice team could compete as well.

A number of novice team girls always seem to make their way to varsity. They do this through hard work and toughness displayed on a daily basis during their first and possibly second year on the novice team. Many of the athletes on this year’s team have already shown the coaches they are ready to be on the varsity team.

On average, 5-15 women make the transition every year. Normally, these women were the top athletes on the novice team. While on novice, they are supposed to get ready for varsity, but also push the varsity to stay ahead of them. If they do that, their transition to the varsity team should be flawless.

One problem the team has faced is the occasional large turnover rate. In most cases, it is because the women decide that other things are more important and have a higher priority. So many different things can happen during one’s first year of school. There are, in most cases, more demands placed upon athletes. Some can handle the transition easier than others.

Whether it is for those reasons, or others, the coaches have tried their best to lessen the turnover rate. With so many women on the team, the coaches try to give the them as much individual attention as possible to make sure they don’t feel like they are just a number.

The one’s who succeed are able to know what the expectations are. If they’re willing to step up to the challenge the coaches place upon them. That amounts to performing up to their potential in and out of the classroom. It’s not a lifestyle that everybody wants, but the student-athletes who do are likely to find success.

written by Josh Mitchell, Iowa Sports Information