California State University, Long Beach

To Inspire and Be Inspired

Sunday, 23. August 2015


Photo by Stefano Balbusso


By Penelope Gallardo

Varsity Rower

Summer is the time most people use to unwind and relax. While this was somewhat the case for me, it didn’t make up my entire summer.

I took almost a month off of doing any kind of exercise. After the passing of one of my closest cousins, I longed to be with my family. I had been training and gone for so long that the need was even greater to rest.

Later on, I began working as an assistant coach for my former high school rowing team, RowLA. I worked with rowers on the team from ages 14-18, and I also participated in a series of recruiting camps. Therefore, technically, since July, I resumed training and recruiting for the fall season.

Even though rowing and my family were the most prominent themes of my summer, this summer was also one of the most challenging. The decision to get back into rowing didn’t happen overnight, and my friends had a huge impact on me. I was here at home while my most of friends were out, working to accomplish their dreams.

I had a friend who was selected to play water polo for Greece’s women’s national team at the Word Championships in Kazan, Russia. She’s a rising senior at Long Beach State. Another one of my friends was drafted into Major League Baseball after 16 years of incredible baseball dedication. He was also a rising senior in college. A former rowing teammate of mine spent most of her summer working for a hospital in Guatemala pursuing an internship in the medical field. She is a rising junior in college. And lastly, one of my former classmates in high school was selected to represent the Swiss National team for lacrosse. He is also a rising junior in college.

Besides the fact that these people are amazing and seek to pursue their dreams, I had the opportunity to get to know these people. I watched them compete, I ate with them, laughed with them, and I learned a lot from each one. Their hunger to succeed really motivated me then, and now, especially, to really step up this year and own it.

As an uprising junior I realized I had been officially rowing for six years. Also, working as an assistant coach for rowing gave me more perspective to sport I already love.

In addition, I am the new vice president for the women’s rowing team at Long Beach State, which was a responsibility I chose to accept. This being said, it’s now my turn to set an example for myself, for my teammates and whoever else is inspired by my efforts.

I don’t know where else rowing will take me, but I know how far it has taken me up to this day. I’m determined to stay focused on the things I can control, staying committed and performing to the best of my ability–thinking of every piece by each stroke individually. This season, I’m on a mission to find my limits and go beyond them.

When I am My Worst Enemy

Saturday, 18. July 2015

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Photo by Evan Mauno

Varsity rowers Cecilia Guerrero and Ariana Gastelum finish the Newport Chase in November 2014.


By Ariana Gastelum

Commands are what discipline a rower. Coaches and coxswains must tell us to do something, and that’s what pushes us. But what about when they’re not around during the summer? Who is going to tell me to use my legs? Who is going to tell me to negative split on the next piece? The answer is me…but a rower without a coxswain feels like being stranded on a boat without an oar.

As a Long Beach native, I am incredibly fortunate to have access to the Recreation and Wellness Center at Long Beach State as well as the boathouse in Marine Stadium to use over break. However, it’s up to me to set an alarm, get dressed and get over there.

Head coach Ian Simpson has given the women’s team tools that will keep us in shape over the summer. He devised a packet with erg and core workouts along with a sheet telling us what splits we should be hitting based on our best 2k times. In addition, Simpson organizes a 2-hour boot-camp session every Tuesday and Thursday that we are welcome to join. He also makes it very clear that if we don’t stay in shape, there will be consequences.

Even with all this help, some still manage to lose their physical strength. Since we are no longer obligated to meet at 5:30am, we lose contact with each other, and we lose sight of our long-term goals.

Thanks to Alex Savage, Ranita Ram, Sam McFeely and Brad McCormick, I’ve managed to overcome the desire to turn off my alarm and go back to bed. All it takes is a simple text-message conversation that confirms we will meet up and complete our daily workout.

Because we are a team, we motivate each other. When we do succeed, we will all be in that boat together from the start to the finish. So who is going to tell me to work hard? I am…with the encouragement of my awesome teammates.

Once a Rower, Now a Coxswain, Always an Athlete

Monday, 2. March 2015


Photo by Stefano Balbusso

Varsity coxswain Sarah Dresser rowed bow at San Diego Crew Classic last year. She officially became a coxswain the following fall season.


By Sarah Dresser

Varsity Coxswain

To my teammates:

Rowing is an all-around, full body workout that can easily get people in the best shape of their lives. Quitting rowing, on the other hand, is like a palpable recession of fitness — something I felt occurring as it was happening. It didn’t have to be this way, but without the pressure of competition, priorities were rearranged and staying in shape became a chore rather than a requirement.

Before I realized it, my team had left me in the dust as I was huffing and puffing after running barely a quarter of a mile. I felt like a disappointment. Although a coxswain does not necessarily have to be leading the pack on the run or pulling the same erg times as their rowers, being a leader means showing the same dedication as the rest of the team. This was a standard to which I was not living.

Making the decision to get back in shape was easy; actually working out was a painful process both physically and mentally. I had to recondition my body and mind to push through the pain that was telling me to stop everything and sit down, to give up. Luckily, I had a few influences that really pushed me to keep going.

I have coaches who will not let up on my fitness goals. Megan Smith, the women’s novice coach, dragged me along on jogs for weeks before I could finally keep up with her. She ignored my complaints and proved to me that no excuse I could come up with would deter her from taking me on a run. And I did not make her job easy. Now, thanks to her help, I am steadily improving my mile times and keeping up with most (but not all) of the team on runs.

I also have many teammates to thank for my motivation. Seeing them push to improve their fitness keeps me returning to second workouts and fighting the burn at head coach Ian Simpson’s CORE practices. My two roommate-teammates Rikki Oden and Samantha McFeely cheer me on in my progress as I collapse in the doorway of our apartment, and Ariana Gastelum, another varsity rower, seals my obligation to come to CORE with a simple text message, “Are you coming?” Many others, including Ranita Ram, Penelope Gallardo and Sydney Fulgham demonstrate their strength and resilience every day, pushing me to continue in my path. These women use positivity and encouraging messages to keep me motivated in staying in shape as I watch them continue their hard work and commitment. Striving for improvement is a promise to myself to match the dedication of these women whom I look up to. It is their determination that fuels the same in me.

My teammates continuously show their dedication to the team on and off the water and in and out of practice, and that has lead me by example to uphold a higher standard. Without their support, I cannot say my journey would have gone very far, but now I am well on my way to completing my fitness goals and becoming a stronger member of the team. This experience has not only taught me the importance of lifelong fitness, but given me an entirely new outlook on taking the actions of my life into my own hands. For all of this, I want to thank my team, my extended family.


Photo by Reid Atkins

The varsity eight discuss their individual and team goals moments before every race, providing encouragement and last-minute advice.