California State University, Long Beach

Team Chemistry: On and Off the Water

Wednesday, 17. September 2014

Photo by Bryan Pulling

Photo by Bryan Pulling

The men and women’s varsity and novice teams came together on Sept. 13 to hike at Crystal Cove and relax at the beach in Laguna, Calif.

 

By Alexandra Savage

Varsity Rower

I love the fact that I am close to so many of my teammates because all of the teams I’ve been on before rowing have never really been friends. I can talk to them about anything. We can hang out for hours just goofing around or talking about little nothings, and at the same time, I completely trust them in the boat, too.

I think that one thing that helps us develop these friendships on the team is the level of commitment shown by coming to practice early and putting in the most effort possible, but also the dedication to being around each other outside of practice, and actually wanting to do so.

We hang out at the USU during breaks in classes, and it’s something I look forward to. I walk back after class and wonder who will be around, and every time I’m there, I learn something new about somebody or start yet another “inside” joke with those I’m already close to.

This past weekend we had a team hike around Crystal Cove in Laguna, Calif. Despite the heat, it was a blast! I didn’t get to go to the beach to cool off with everybody afterwards because I had prior engagements, but it’s awesome to have events to look forward to outside of practice where we can all just hang out with each other and mess around.

These are the times when the team really gets to know each other as a whole unit and when we are all as close as we are, it’s nice to see it show in practice and races too.

Building a Bigger, Better Team

Monday, 15. September 2014

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Photo by Ariana Gastelum

The women’s varsity team took out an eight and demonstrated their daily routine before and after practice. This included docking, entering the boat, strapping feet in, exiting the boat, putting it into slings and washing it.

 

By Ariana Gastelum

Varsity Rower

It’s only week two for the novices, and I still can’t believe how many people there are.

I remember one morning, the varsity men’s coach Rob Edwards said, “We are nine ergs short. I’ve never had that happen.”

On Sept. 8, their first day, it was so exciting to see such a huge crowd at the boat house dressed in all sorts of bright-colored-workout clothes…like little Easter eggs. And then the majority of varsity wore LBS Rowing gear, which is mostly made up of black tanks, black shorts and black sweatshirts. Soon, they will join the dark side.

Some of the former coxswains Bryan Pulling, Kaitlyn Gold and Lauren Felske made an appearance to help teach the novices technique. They all made such a difference, especially because both teams are short of coxswains.

Most importantly, I am proud that all of varsity demonstrated fantastic leadership, willing to answer any questions with a positive attitude. Teaching beginners is really difficult. There is so much terminology to learn, and everything feels so uncomfortable and awkward for them. But we make rowing look so easy. And I think that’s why so many people have stayed. I can’t wait to see how we do in competitions.

I Rowed, I Coxed, and I Changed My Life

Sunday, 7. September 2014

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Photos provided by Lorenzo Perez

When the team no longer had enough coxswains for each boat, Lorenzo Perez volunteered during his first year. He later returned to compete as a varsity-light-weight rower.

 

By Lorenzo Perez

LBS Rowing Alumnus Fall 2006 — Spring 2008

When I stepped into that boathouse for the first day on that relatively warm September morning at 5:30am, wiping the crusties out of my eyes, I had yet to realize how much Beach Crew would dramatically affect and change my life.

I joined the crew team my second year at Long Beach State after having a relatively uneventful and boring freshman year. By the urging of my best friend, I decided to step outside of my box and do something completely radical by joining the team. I had always seen the boats go by as I took the bus to work going over the Second Street bridge.

Growing up in the desert, I had no idea what rowing was and had really never even heard or seen it in my 18 years of life prior to moving to Long Beach for school. Not only that, but I was most definitely NOT an athlete of any kind, whatsoever, unless you count rollerblading. I was always a super dorky (still am) band geek, super studious and quiet person throughout high school, but I had always yearned to be a part of a sports team.

It wasn’t just for the athletic nature, but for the pride in being a part of a team, working together towards a common goal. I quickly discovered how elite the sport of rowing was and became infatuated with it in every way through my first season.

I will not paint a perfect picture for you though. Rowing has been, and will continue to be the toughest physical thing I have ever endured. Even after rowing, I began competing in triathlons and while that is super hard, rowing is technical, physical, and thoroughly emotional.  For me, crew was proving to myself that I could do something I had never done before, and that I had the ability to achieve something more even if I didn’t always win.

After the first half of my first season, we unfortunately lost our coxswains and were left with no one to guide us, literally. I had the privilege, as I felt, to become a coxswain for the team. I was about 20 pounds lighter than I am now, and I decided to take on this task for my team because we needed one, and I was willing to give up the rowing to give something back to my team.

This is where I really began to shine, not only in my skills as a coxswain, but as someone that people respected. I was their leader and also their equal because I still sat on those ergs every morning with them, and I would also get up and scream in their faces to row faster.

To build a crew you must break it down in order to build it back up together or else you will never be a real team. No matter how many arguments or times we lost, we all gained something from it and learned. There were days I wanted to quit and I once did. I quit and walked away. But, I came back because I couldn’t leave my team no matter how upset I was as I had made a commitment. I only won one race with my team against Chapman University as coxswain. It wasn’t a real official race, but even now 8 years later I STILL proudly wear my red Chapman tank we won together and I will keep it until it’s in threads.

I knew what they were enduring on the water, the way it felt, the pain and the energy it took and exactly what I was asking of them whenever I demanded a hard ten to catch up to the boat next to us. They could never get mad at me because they knew I knew what it felt like.

There is no better adrenaline rush than a crew race, I don’t care what other sport you’ve done, there is just nothing that compares, sitting there trying to keep your boat straight and ready for take off and that buzzer to sound. It’s so quick, but also chaotic and slow all at the same time, and I’ve never felt anything better than when my heart was pumping in anticipation.

Crew wasn’t just a sport for me; it became my social scene as I made countless friends whom I still regularly see today. It created a bond of sameness no matter of our religious backgrounds, sexual orientations, or the color of our skin. Crew gave me the confidence I was lacking in my life, as I had always felt different and at times alone.

Though it still took some time for me to come out as gay, I knew that I would never have been able to feel as great about it as I do today if it wasn’t for my experience on the team. My teammates valued me for who I was and not my sexual orientation. I couldn’t even imagine where I would be if I hadn’t made that decision to join Beach Crew 8 years ago.

My advice for anyone considering joining this season is to “just do it,” and know that you will be pushed to your limits physically and emotionally with literal blood, sweat, and tears. It will all be worth it, as you will have an experience unique to yourself. You will gain a brotherhood (or sisterhood…possibly both as I did) and people who will not let you fail or let you down. While I learned a lot in my classes at CSULB, by far my best educational experience was being a part of Beach Crew and I will never forget it.

GO BEACH!

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