Women’s Rowing Completes Testing Week, Senior Jill Walker Checks In
By Chelsea Flintoft '14
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara women's rowing is coming off a week of strength and conditioning testing, focusing on physical training rather than time on the water.
"This week was a testing week, and as such also a light, recovery week," said first-year head coach John Wojtkiewicz over the weekend. "Our volume is down, with only one short row per day, and the only supplemental work is the strength testing on Wednesday evening."
The strength testing showed some good results, with every athlete improving their one-rep max on every lift, which includes leg press, bench row, dead lift, and bench press. This week, the Broncos resume their regular training program, including putting together some test lineups for the varsity eight, and running some speed trials.
A double major in religious studies and liberal studies from Aurora, Colo., senior Jill Walker (JW) took some time to answer some questions for SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCB). Originally planning on playing soccer for Santa Clara, an injury put her out during her junior year of high school. Still determined to get involved on the Mission Campus, Walker joined the rowing team as a walk-on during her freshman year and has been on the team ever since.
SCB: What do you hope to accomplish during your senior season?
JW: In the past, our goals have been to place well in the WCC championship race in May, but with our limited numbers this year, I really would like to see our team compete in a varsity 8 and a second varsity 8 at WCC. Traditionally, like most of the other athletic teams at SCU, the women's crew team has had a rivalry with St. Mary's. It would be a nice accomplishment to beat St. Mary's varsity 8. Due to our low numbers, this is a year to build the program, and I think that a big accomplishment would be to have a majority of rowers return next year. With a strong returning varsity and with recruited freshman and walk-ons, our program will definitely be able to compete with the other WCC schools.
SCB: What have been some of your favorite memories from these past three years being on the women's rowing team?
JW: I will never forget my novice season, only because almost every time we raced, or attempted to race in the novice 8, there was some sort of chaos surrounding the event. Our first racing weekend, we raced at Port of Sacramento in the novice 8. As we are racing, our 5-seat rower catches a crab and her seat falls off the tracks. So we came to a complete stop so she could put her seat back on, and get her oar in the right place. As all of this is happening, the race is very much going on. Once we finally start rowing again, we're not going straight down the course. Instead, we're headed straight for a barge on the side of the course (little did we rowers know, that this was all happening). The pace boat comes speeding up behind us, calling out, "Santa Clara! Move to Starboard! Santa Clara!" We ended up basically running right into the barge, the portside oars scrape against it. We again came to a complete stop, while the race continued on. The course has a bridge at the 500m mark where everyone watches the race, so not only are we stopped, but everyone just watched us run into a barge. Pushing off the barge and back into the course, we go under the bridge and the port side rowers' oars are hitting the tree branches hanging down by the shore of the course. Finally steering away from the shore, we finish the race. It's amazing, but we finished in 2nd place! On the way back to the dock, we crossed under the bridge, and this time, managed to hit oars on the bridge supports.
We also took the varsity 8 and second varsity 8 boats to the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia that year, and that entire trip was amazing. In the varsity 8, we placed well enough in the first race to have a spot in the 3rd finals race, and we were close in the second race, but came up short by a just a few seconds. It was also really neat because the men's novice 4 that went to the Dad Vail actually won their race and came home with medals. Over all, my novice year was really great for coming into college, not planning on rowing, and then finding out that I really enjoyed this sport. Now I absolutely love everything about rowing.
JW: My parents both graduated from Santa Clara (Dad '79, Mom '80) and ever since I could remember, I wanted to go to Santa Clara and play soccer. Growing up, my plan was to play soccer in college and always play for Santa Clara. At the end of junior year, my achilles tendon was severed, and I ended up not being able not able to play sports again until winter of my senior year. As I reconsidered my plans of playing soccer at Santa Clara, I thought it would be great just to come to Santa Clara and get involved in something else.
SCB: What drew you to the sport of rowing? What helped you decide to make this commitment?
JW: At some point during my senior year of high school, I was at the rec-center by my house, and I got on an erg for the first time. I thought the sport was really fun, and easy to just keep going—obviously I was NOT doing it right because now I don't find the erg to be so fun anymore. At the club fair on campus, one of the captains that year asked me if I had an interest in rowing, so I took the flyer but didn't actually think I would join the team. About a month into school a friend living down the hall from me was talking about crew, and she said that I'd love it, so I ended up going to a practice. So between the girl who gave me the flyer, my friend who suggested I try crew and the team, I decided that crew was something I absolutely wanted to stick with, and here I am, 3 years later, still on the team.
JW: I'll be graduating in June with a bachelor of arts in religious studies and a bachelor of science in liberal studies. I plan to return home to Colorado and enroll at Regis University for the Masters of Education with licensing program to get my teaching credential, which I will then use to teach either upper elementary (3-5th grades) or possibly religion at a Catholic school. I am also considering joining the Rocky Mountain Rowing Club.
SCB: Do you have any advice for freshman or anyone who is trying to decide whether or not they should join crew?
JW: The early mornings tend to be a deal-breaker, but just speaking from experience, its not that bad, you get used to it, and you know that everyone on your team is also getting up with you in the morning. The practices will pay off when you get to racing season. It's so hard to explain how incredible racing is, but I personally believe that you can't honestly know what crew is like until you've raced. Once you race, you'll know why so many people row. You will meet people on the crew team who will become your best friends. The coaching staff is open to helping you in anyway that you need, whether it's technique or help finding out about tutors, or even something completely non-school and non-crew related. PLUS, one of the coaches was an alternate for the Beijing 2008 Olympics, and how many people can say that an Olympian coached them?