California State University, Long Beach

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.

Team Bonding Taken to the Next Level

Wednesday, 11. February 2015


Photo by Ian Simpson

Novice coach Megan Smith participated in one of the games set up by the team sport psychologist that visited the LBS Rowing women. In this particular event, two teams had to race to one side and back with tape wrapped around them.


By Kelsey Davis

Varsity Rower

No one said college was going to be easy. In fact, college is one of the busiest and most stressful times of any young adult’s life. There are classes, homework, jobs, internships, fighting for scholarships, and if you’re lucky, a social life to worry about. That’s not even including basic living necessities like eating, sleeping, grocery shopping, laundry, and hopefully a shower here or there.

The life of a college student can be pretty demanding. But we aren’t just regular college students. We are student athletes. We are student rowers. With that title comes a whole new list of stresses that range from lack of sleep from the 5AM wake up call to preparing for the next 2k test. With all of these stresses, it’s important we learn to deal with them in healthy ways and manage our busy schedules while still improving as a rower.

That’s where Jenny, our team sport psychologist student, comes in. Every other week or so, she wakes up at 5a.m. with us and observes our practice. After observing and gaining some insight on our needs, she meets with our team and helps us set effective and attainable goals. We learn relaxation techniques and ways to channel pretest anxiety into something useful. We also play team building games that bring the team together, help us identify our strengths and weaknesses, and give us some pretty good laughs. We can go to her with questions about how to deal with specific problems and she helps us train our thoughts to be positive and uplifting instead of negative.

Discussing things like relaxing breathing, visualizing, and positive self talk seems a little weird at first. Is this stuff really going to work? The answer is yes. After winter break I was anxious and felt slower than when I left in the fall. The 2k test was coming up, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle it. Jenny’s techniques helped me focus my thoughts and stay positive. Progressive muscle relaxation and visualizing helped me stay calm and get prepared the night before, and in the morning, I felt ready. These techniques aren’t just helpful for rowing but can be useful when preparing for a school exam or a job interview. I’m excited to see what else Jenny has to offer as the Spring race season beings.


Photo by Ian Simpson

The women’s novice team competed against the varsity team and novice coach Megan Smith to race to one side and back while wrapped in tape during a game set up by the sports psychologist that visited LBS Rowing.