Scheduling presents challenge for Alabama rowing

By Ben Boynton | Contributing Writer

The University of Alabama women’s rowing team will wrap up its fall portion of the season with the Head of the Hooch Regatta this weekend in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

This is the team’s third regatta so far this year, and head coach Larry Davis likes what he has seen from the team so far this season.

“Sometimes in the past we haven’t been able to execute at the level we wanted to, and so far this fall we have done that in both of the races we’ve gone to,” Davis said. “We have a lot of young people that are contributing, and to have them go out and maintain composure and execute at the levels we’re executing at is really encouraging.”

After the Head of the Hooch, the rowing team enters an extended midseason break. The team doesn’t hit the water again until Feb. 27 in a home regatta against Eastern Michigan.

All of the time off presents its own unique challenge. The team has to remain focused and committed, despite not competing for a long time. Senior rower Joyce Auguste feels the temptation to take time off during the break.

“It’s a long time off, but we really encourage everyone to keep up the work because it’s all of our goals to improve upon where we already are,” Auguste said.

As a result of not being in competition, practices are reduced. Davis and his fellow coaches aren’t allowed as much supervision over the team. The responsibility to stay in shape and ready to row again is placed squarely upon the rowers.

Senior rower Jennifer Parker says the team has different ways of making sure that everyone is putting in the work.

“In the past, we’ve done accountability groups with other people on the team and you have to keep each other accountable and make sure everyone is still training,” said Parker. “We do a lot of things in groups on our own to keep everyone active.”

Such an unbalanced schedule does have some positives in it. The team can look back at what it has done well so far and what it needs to improve on, and has the time to make changes. Davis refers to the fall season as a good time to figure out the identity of the team.

“We certainly want to get some races and have a chance for the girls to compete and give us a chance to evaluate them when they do compete,” Davis said. “It’s also a good opportunity to get our name out there as a program.”

The rowing team faces more scheduling quirks than just the date of its regattas. The team competes against a varying amount of opponents, depending on the regatta. Events like the Head of the Hooch contain many teams competing in the races. The Tide also has regattas like the spring opener against Eastern Michigan, and an April regatta against SMU. Parker doesn’t think she prepares any differently for the different types of regattas they compete in, but the racing itself is a little different.

“We go out with the whole mentality that you have to do your best in each race," Parker said. "With the larger regattas, you have to be ready to do more with different heats and semi-finals and finals. With the duels, you have one race that decides it, and you have to be ready for that.”

Auguste believes the amount of teams the Tide faces ultimately doesn’t matter.

“At the end of the day, competition is competition and we want to make sure we approach each race with our best performance, no matter how many competitors there are,” Auguste said.

Ultimately, the team’s goal is to go out and try to be the fastest they can be on the water. It doesn’t matter when they race, how long it has been since they’ve raced, or even who they are racing against. The team's goal remains the same: do the best it can.

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