California State University, Long Beach

What’s the Third Goal?

Wednesday, 29. October 2014


Photo provided by Joshua Gagan


By Joshuah Gagan

Novice Rower

Anxiety. Fear. Power. It’s what was on most rowers’ minds in the Gold Member — especially after an official cut us off and my shorts got stuck in my seat, we were to expect the unexpected. And within two seconds after making the start, we were off.

Sweaty palms, wet legs and screams by our coxswain Jackie Flietstra set us up for success. However, we did get passed by two other boats, making the scene look intimidating for most of us.

But as Coach Jon put it at the end, “You reached two goals: One, you crossed the finish line! And two, you didn’t crash into other boats.” But for some reason, I had the feeling that there was a third goal, just like there are usually three reasons to back up your evidence or in the way three is symbolic in many ideologies. So what is our third goal? To get into the Top 5? To beat the “USC wankers”?

It actually goes back a long way, to the reasons why you joined crew in the first place. For me, getting out on the water at 5 in the morning, riding across the waves with the wind blowing in your face is simply bliss. It’s like waking up with your dream and never forgetting it again. Every stroke you take is in continuity with the others and is set at a different pace each time. When going at a slower rate, you’re able to take in all of your surroundings in the quiet dawn. On the other hand, pushing at a faster rate makes it seem like you have nothing else to lose and you speed like a shaky bullet across the water. That first practice had me, and I joined crew.

Although I already knew crew was going to be difficult, I didn’t realize that it’s not just physical, but mental strength. You have to eliminate the voices in your head, sadly disregard the notes you studied for midterms and the memories from this week. Every bit of concentration is on the water, on the person behind you and in your surroundings. And if you don’t, try to bring a wet suit because you may do something called tipping the boat.

But crew is still tough. Up to this day, I’m not a master in crew. To be honest, technique and oar handle heights always get me. Sure I can put a lot of power into it, but it all comes down to one thing: making sure you work harder, so your teammates know you’re not just an observer, but someone that is active. I felt that putting in all of my efforts in each practice keeps me going to keep the boat’s serenity, my team’s confidence, and of course, a set boat.

So what is our third goal? Making sure we have done our best and enjoyed the ride. Waking up at 5 am isn’t a requirement, it’s a choice. It’s something that will either hurt you or make you stronger. But in the end, you’ll be happy with the choice you make — the one to row for the pleasure of being on the water.

To my novice team, you did a great job. Despite some mishaps, we all showed up to Sacramento, pushed our boat all the way out to the finish and made sure you pushed. Continue to work harder and make room for improvement and make the best out of it. Follow suit to our code: Teamwork. Commitment. Results.



Photo provided by Stefano Balbusso

Men’s Novice B Boat (left to right): Scott Morris, Curtis Coloma, George Servin, Joel Martinez, Paul O’Malley Pearce, Joshuah Gagan, Charlie Edgar, Justin Kayne and coxswain Jackie Flietstra

Reflecting Back on Head of the American 2013

Wednesday, 22. October 2014

Video by Evan Wright

Varsity rower Evan Wright filmed his novice experience last year. A lot of this footage was filmed during Head of the American in Sacramento, Calif. last October.


By Evan Mauno

When I went to Head of the American (HoA) for the first time in October 2013, I only had seven weeks of rowing experience. It was also the place where I knew for sure I would stay on the team. Up until this point, I only had a strong interest in rowing. After Head of the American, I fell in love with it. The morning practices and training we do is all for big races like these.

One of the few times I was a portside oarsman was at HoA (I have mostly been a starboard since). I was a part of bow pair in two-seat in the Cal State Long Beach A-Boat in the Men’s Collegiate Novice 8+. Out of twelve boats, we placed in sixth place with a final time of 19 minutes 22 seconds. It was faster than our timed trial back in Marine Stadium, which was what we wanted.

What I loved about HoA is how busy we were. Both the men’s and women’s teams crowded onto a single bus, drove all day to Sacramento, did a practice run of the course in Lake Natoma when we arrived, had one dinner together as a team, then shuttled off to the hotel for one night of rest. For race day, the morning and afternoon were filled with meetings, checking out the clothing and food vendors, cheering on our teammates, helping out with boats and oars, and of course, participating in our own races. It was a crazy, busy and absolutely joyous day.

What I look forward to at HoA this year is just to have the “experience” all over again — to push as hard as I can, to explore, to celebrate and to have fun. Head of the American was the place where I fell in love with my team and this sport. I hope this trip to Sacramento will be similar for the men and women’s novice teams this year.

Row Beach!


Photo by Stefano Balbusso

LBS Rowing men’s novices dressed elegantly at last year’s Head of the American to give a good impression amongst the other teams.

The Power of Sleep

Tuesday, 14. October 2014

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 9.57.59 PM

Photo by Ariana Gastelum

Varsity rower Rikki Oden found a spot in the shade to relax before her race at last year’s Head of the American.


By Ariana Gastelum

Women’s novice coach Megan Smith has always stressed to the team that sleep is extremely important for athletes. I have never tested this theory until several weeks ago, and it is incredible how much better I feel physically and mentally.

I did not develop bad sleeping habits until high school when I was put into an accelerated program that required a certain amount of Advanced Placement and honors classes. I remember staying awake until 2am, writing Cornell notes for a 30-page chapter…only to receive a stamp that stood for credit when my teacher looked over it for a brief second.

This was the norm. I figured my body was used to it. And since then, I’ve always had around 4 to 6 hours of sleep.

Just before the last erg test, I started forcing myself to go to bed at 10p.m. The first morning left me feeling groggy, and I couldn’t understand why. However, the more nights I practiced sleeping, the better I felt.

No matter what, you are going to be tired when you wake up at 4:30a.m. It is totally unavoidable. However, I noticed that a good night of sleep can sure make warming up feel a lot quicker. Since I was already so awake, I could focus on catching up my body to my mind. By the time the team reached the 500-meter pole at Marine Stadium, I no longer just felt warm…I felt good; I felt ready.

The greatest benefits more sleep provides are energy and concentration. More energy results in a better performance. In crew, this has helped me maintain my technique throughout entire practices. When I’m tired, I tend to slouch and use less leg drive, which results in lower-back pain.

This week, I am taking midterms, so concentration plays an extremely important role in studying. Last night, I stayed up until about midnight reviewing notes.

I woke up feeling worse than ever…perhaps because I was no longer used to it. Since it was Tuesday, the women’s team worked on land. Varsity had two 30-minute pieces with 4 minutes steady-state and 1 minute full-pressure.

I ended up sitting out for the second piece because the pain in my lower back was too great, so I ran down the Stadium, instead. I hate running, so if I’d rather run than erg, something is definitely up.

After taking the exam today, I realized that I would have probably done better if I went to bed an hour earlier. The later it gets, the harder it is to retain knowledge. The extra hour of sleep would have probably at least helped me focus.

I now realize that it is better to go to bed when I feel tired because it will help me recover faster and benefit my overall performance.