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ND Women’s Rowing: Irish go for seven in a row in Big East tourney

Allan Joseph | Friday, April 23, 2010

The Notre Dame women’s rowing team has quietly been building a tradition of its own in the Big East championships for the past few years. In each of the past six years, the Irish have hoisted the Big East trophy and this weekend, they go for their seventh in a row at the Big East championship in Worcester, Mass. To coach Martin Stone, however, success in each individual year is more important than the year-to-year streak.

“Is it our seventh? I don’t know. We don’t keep so much track of that,” Stone said. “We try to approach each year as a new year, we’re not trying to defend anything, we’re just trying to go as fast as we can in each event.”

This year’s team has had its share of challenges, not least of which was a change in the team’s training philosophy. The squad’s regimen has traditionally been based on a philosophy of constant, full effort, but this year the coaches decided to switch to a heart-rate-based training program. Though it has not been easy, assistant coach Joe Schlosberg said he has been impressed by the team’s response.

“It’s something we had to trust that the team would buy into, and we’ve had to show a lot of patience this year,” Stone said. “This has been a little different year, the coaches included. We kind of had to change our mindset.”

The coaching staff credits much of this team’s success to the culture created by the seniors on the squad, who have fostered a positive atmosphere despite the challenges posed by the change. The burden of leadership has fallen on the upperclassmen as a whole, as the team did not name captains this season in hopes of a team-wide effort.

“I think our seniors have done a wonderful job,” Stone said. “I like the team dynamic, I like the culture of our team.”

“I think the seniors really have set a great tone for the team,” Schlosberg said. “They’ve led by example and it’s really their leadership.”

The Irish expect that their new training, based on the methods of international teams, will allow them to perform at their absolute best on Lake Quinsigamond on Sunday despite minor injury and crew composition issues.

“I think they’re going to start to really see some speed come out of their hard work. Hopefully it pays off,” Schlosberg said. “I think we’ve gained some speed across the team since we last raced, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed that we can carry this out and carry that speed through this weekend and beyond.”

Various schools are expected to challenge Notre Dame in the various boat classes, most notably Connecticut and Louisville. The Cardinals will be hungry for a championship, having finished second to the Irish multiple times over the past six years, and the Huskies are part of a program on the rise. Stone says that his team cannot be worried about the other schools, however, and must instead focus on putting forth its best effort. The key to success on Sunday, he said, is simple.

“We’re planning on having our best races of the year,” he said. “We have to row really hard and make our boats go really fast. I mean, it’s not rocket science.”

Notre Dame looks to claim its seventh consecutive Big East title Sunday in Worcester, Mass.