The team overview for Tufts crew says "the program also focuses on attracting women under 130 pounds for the lightweight squad." I can't remember seeing Tufts race a lightweight boat recently. I suspect this is an evergreen overview and hasn't been updated in a while. Still, I wonder if Coach Gary Caldwell has any plans to build a lightweight team?
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Wisconsin's 2006-07 schedule is out and the fall looks much as it did last year - Milwaukee River Challenge, Head of the Rock, Head of the Charles, and Head of the Iowa. The Badgers are the defending collegiate lightweight eight champion at the Head of the Charles. Interestingly, the heavyweights skip the HOCR but make an East Coast trip by sending some of the team to the Princeton Chase.
There were six collegiate lightweight eights racing at the Charles last year. It would be nice to beat that number this year. Crew applications are due September 1st, so the draw should be out in a few weeks.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I recently received an email from the developer of a new erg score tracking service called Ergscores.com. I haven't actually used this service and features are still being added, but it's free and has a team component that should make it useful to coaches. Of particular interest to lightweights is a built in weight adjustment feature. If your team is all lightweights this doesn't matter too much, but if you're being compared to heavyweights it does. It's not a "pity adjustment" made to take into account some vague notion of efficiency. Rather, it uses the Concept II formula (more choices are coming) which attempts to adjust for a lightweight rower pulling less body weight down the course while still pulling the same boat and coxswain weight. It purports to show you how fast a boat of your clones would go compared to a boat of your teammate's clones. It also has a feature which allows high school rowers to release scores to college coaches. Seems like it's worth a try (unless, like me, you do your best never to record an erg score so it can't be used against you later).
You can read more about the site and an interview with the developer on The Daily Erg.
Monday, August 28, 2006
A few days ago a reader asked why collegiate weigh-ins are different from USRowing (e.g. USRowing nationals) weigh-ins. Collegiate weigh-ins are typically the day before a race, with a certification requirement at IRAs. USRowing requires an athlete to weigh-in not more than two hours prior to each race (heat, semi, and final). In an attempt to get an answer to this question, I went to the font of all knowledge on such matters (collegiate, anyway), the lightweight committee of the CRCA.
As with many rowing practices, the true reason for the difference is a bit murky, but probably results largely from tradition. In addition, the collegiate practice was developed to help protect the health of the athlete as a single weigh-in prior to the regatta helps avoid race day dehydration issues. There is also the convenience factor of one weigh-in for regatta officials, coaches and rowers. (With a goal of growing the sport, convenience does play a part.) While not a USRowing practice, FISA (international) sets a single rower weight limit of about 130lbs, and a boat average limit of about 125 lbs. This kind of boat average weight limit is not used in college rowing because of the inherent danger of forcing a boat average five pounds below the individual average. This typically results in all members of a boat losing weight, even those well under 130 pounds, to allow athletes near 130 to compete.
It's tempting to want athletes to weigh in every day and let those near-weight rowers row dehydrated. If they are that close to the limit either they shouldn't be rowing lightweight or they should pay a price for not managing their weight as well as everyone else. If the penalty for dehydration was simply fatigue or a loss of strength, that might work. Unfortunately the penalty could be injury, or worse. The certification requirement at IRAs, however, is an attempt to weed out those rowers who really aren't lightweights by forcing them to weigh-in during the season.
There is one USRowing weight practice that I find to be particularly egregious. Elite lightweight rowers are allowed to weigh 140 pounds when they submit their April erg score. That is 15 pounds heavier than the boat average. Elite level lightweights actually have weight management plans that have them bulking up to 140 in the off season so they can max out the erg test, and then dropping weight for the racing season. This is obviously unhealthy and I don't understand why USRowing encourages it. Why not require lightweights to be at weight whenever testing, racing, or seat racing?
[Update: See comments - I get slapped around a bit on this one.]
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Bucknell's media guide is out and there are some good things happening there. There is an exception, which I've discussed before, and it rears it's head in the guide. Assistant coach Sera Coppolino is lauded for bringing the Second Varsity Eight to new heights last season. Second Varsity is Bucknell speak for varsity lightweights. In one paragraph we go, without explanation, from reading about the 2V heavy(?) eight racing the Princeton lights to the lightweight eight turning in its best ever performance at IRAs. Later in the guide we learn that the 2V "transitioned from its regular-season status to the lightweight eight in order to compete at the IRA National Championship." I guess there are no regular season lightweights? You'd have to read FITD to know what the heck they're talking about. Well, I had my rant about that last season so let's move on to the good stuff, because there's plenty. Bucknell did have a great season last year and Coach Coppolino gets some well deserved kudos.
The Guide also tells us that Bucknell began sculling last year and will do so again this year. They added 10 sculling boats last fall! This is a great move for Bucknell, as it would be for any program because it is so beneficial for technique development. It's particularly good for lightweights since any post-collegiate rowing will be sculling. There are actually regattas to race sculling boats in the fall so it's a great time to break them out.
The Guide also includes an athlete journal which is written by Caitlin Doolin, last year's stroke of the light eight. Oops, sorry. The journal is about Dad Vails so that would be pre-transition and she would have only been in the 2V.
Bucknell has seven lightweight recruits entering this fall and they are expected to have "an immediate impact on the Varsity Lightweight Eight." (I guess these rowers were recruited for the lightweight 1V, not the heavyweight 2V?)
Bucknell's lightweights are coming off a great 2006 season and are the most successful program in the Bucknell boathouse. They've got good recruits coming in who will add speed to last year's young V8. One thing this Guide tells us is that the Bison aren't standing still.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
FITD was fortunate to get a mention in the latest issue of the Schuylkill Navy newsletter, so some of you are Philadelphians coming here for the first time. I have a question for you: Where are all of your lightweight programs? Philadelphia, arguably the center of rowing in the United States, does not have one dedicated lightweight women's rowing program. Villanova (which now rows outside of the city) won the national championship in 1998 but now only rows lightweight boats of opportunity. St. Joseph's occasionally puts out lightweight boats, which can be quite competitive, but doesn't race the category consistently. Think of all the college programs on the Schuylkill - Bryn Mawr, LaSalle, Drexel, Penn, Temple, and Haverford, in addition to Villanova and St. Joe's - and not one lightweight program.
Lightweights do row in Philadelphia, as evidenced by the current national team LW2x out of Penn AC and last year's national team LW4x out of Vesper, not to mention the lightweights at Undine Barge. Lightweights row there in high school too - Archbishop Prendergast and Mount St. Joseph's are two examples. Boston, though, has the MIT and Radcliffe lights and Washington DC has the Georgetown lights. Even San Francisco has lightweight women - Stanford and Cal. Why aren't there any in Phialdelphia?
Penn seems to be the prime school to start a lightweight women's program. They have lightweight men so they understand the value of lightweight rowing, and those lightweight men are the most successful program in the boathouse. Why not lightweight women? They would have plenty of nearby competition, including Ivy League competition. Penn is one of largest Ivies so they have a great recruiting base. Everything is in place for the launch of a successful program, even a new coach who just may be bringing some new thinking to the team.
Maybe the city is still scarred from being named the nation's most obese a year or two ago. Maybe in Philadelphia there are no lightweights because, well, there are no lightweights.
Naaah. C'mon Philadelphia, just do it!
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Longtime readers of FITD know that one of my pet peeves is the unfounded claim that an inordinate number of female lightweight rowers have eating disorders. None of the studies I've seen on the subject (not an exhaustive survey by any means) have offered real evidence of this claim. Typically, after the authors fail to find evidence of eating disorders, they find evidence of "disordered eating" and wrap up their study by saying that it makes intuitive sense for female lightweight rowers to be at risk so they must be. The catch is the definition of disordered eating which includes limiting caloric intake or limiting certain foods. Don't all college age women exhibit disordered eating then?
With the arrival of the "Back to School" season comes the first of many "Freshman 15" articles. The author begins by talking to students and nutritionists who worry about overeating as they begin college. Then an odd thing happens. By the time the article ends, we're told we need to worry that "students have more opportunity to compare themselves with each other because they spend so much time together" and that "super-fit bodies that saturate TV shows and commercials can exacerbate such problems." The first link given at the end of the article is to Duke's Eating Disorders Program. It turns out that the real problem isn't gaining 15 pounds, but trying to lose it later. At the University of Missouri, we're told, "students are trained to make presentations to their peers ... on eating healthy, handling stress, exercising and generally leading a healthy lifestyle." Gee, that sounds like they want to turn everyone into a lightweight rower, doesn't it?
The more "experts" make it seem like everyone has an eating disorder, the less likely it is that the appropriate resources will be focused on those who actually need help. This does a disservice to all concerned.
(Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor and this isn't medical advice. I can, however, read.)
Sunday, August 20, 2006
I recently heard from Coach Hugh Dodd, the new head coach at Ohio State. In addition to correcting my erroneous belief that he and Wisco's new coach, Erik Miller, were teammates at Washington (they were not; I corrected my earlier post), he also told me that he intends to revive men's lightweight rowing at OSU. This is good news for the women lights because it means that they have a coach who cares about lightweights and that they will have fellow travelers in the OSU boathouse. Success by one team will encourage and raise the standards for the other. With the huge recruiting base at Ohio State, a little rise in the popularity of the lightweight programs could mean a huge rise in the number of recruits and the speed of V8s.
While at Washington, Coach Dodd weighed around 170 pounds, making him essentially a lightweight competing for a seat on one of the nation's premier heavyweight teams. Only someone with fire in the belly (aka lightweight attitude) survives in that kind of environment. This may go a long way toward explaining his favorable attitude toward lightweights. I think that over the next couple of years the OSU light women will be a crew to watch as they try to break into the top five. Whether they get there or not, I'm pretty sure their journey won't be uneventful.
UCF head coach Leeanne Crain signed a new three year contract last week. I don't know how directly involved she is with the UCF lightweights, but they've certainly made a name for themselves since she arrived in 2003. There's no mention in the announcement of an intent to hire an assistant (lightweight?) coach, as has been rumored. We'll have to wait and see on that one. There was mention, however, of plans for a new boathouse and practice facility. UCF continues to show that it's serious about women's rowing.
Another sign of the impending fall racing season - Radcliffe announced that it will hold it's crew information meeting on September 13th.
Only 9 weeks until the Head of the Charles.
Friday, August 18, 2006
In championship regattas, team points trophies are a desirable piece of hardware. Although I'm not a big fan, coaches want them, athletic directors want them, and the NCAA's rule over women's heavyweight rowing as a "team sport" has made them more important than ever. The only championship regatta I'm aware of, however, in which the results of the light eight counts toward such a trophy is the A10's. It seems to me then, that one way to grow lightweight rowing would be to make it count toward a major championship team trophy. I suggest we start with the Willing Trophy at EAWRC Sprints.
There are probably easier championships with which to start, but none with more tradition or prestige. Sprints are the place to have the biggest impact. If the Sprints schools began to develop lightweight programs, that would represent some real progress in growing the sport. Of the 16 schools entered in the V8 competition last season, 10 have lightweight men's programs so they are no strangers to lightweight rowing. The points at stake for the LV8 event need to be substantial as well. They need to reflect the fact that the light eight is a varsity eight race. One point down from the V8 points seems about right (actually that would be similar to the 2V8 and N8). If there were 17 or 18 points at stake in the LV8 race it might make some schools think about a program.
Of course, if this were implemented there would be a hue and cry from those schools without women's lightweights. No problem, announce it two or three years in advance. Give each school a chance to develop a lightweight program before the points count.
Clearly this is no panacea, but it can't hurt. It would give the heavyweight coaches in the CRCA an opportunity to truly represent lightweights to the ECAC when they support this move. It would broaden the growth of women's rowing. The major heavyweight programs have more scholarships than they can possibly give to big high school girls with rowing experience, yet many high school rowers don't row in college but would like to. They are lightweights. This is how the women's side of the sport will continue to grow and a role in the Willing Trophy is a place to start.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
The most obvious point to make about Coach Teitelbaum's answer is that he does not say that the CRCA supports the continued growth of women's lightweight rowing. This was my first question and it goes unanswered. I find that curious because that question was clearly a softball, an icebreaker meant to get us both on the same page so we could ease into more difficult areas.
In fact, none of my questions were answered as the coach simply said that the CRCA considers only those issues raised by the lightweight committee. This suggests that he is unfamiliar with the lightweight issues I raised and is reluctant to say that the organization supports the category. By comparison, I would ask if the Executive Director of USRowing would be able to answer questions about lightweights in the Olympics and state USRowing's position on the growth of lightweight events. I'm quite sure he would. (Coach Teitelbaum implied he was reluctant to answer my questions because he couldn't possibly know what all heavyweight coaches think. I replied that I was looking for an organizational response and that I was writing to him as the head of the organization.)
As Coach Teitelbaum himself implies, the fact that the head of an organization of heavyweight coaches is unfamiliar with lightweight issues is not surprising. What is surprising, however, is that the organization purports to represent lightweights to USRowing, the NCAA, and other legislative arenas.
Although I asked, Coach Teitelbaum did not name any specific measures the CRCA has taken to support lightweight rowing. Again, for a heavyweight organization this would be perfectly understandable, but that is not what the CRCA claims to be.
Finally, for all of the reliance Coach Teitelbaum puts on the lightweight committee, until this past year it was headed by a heavyweight coach who happens to have lightweights racing in his program.
Coach Teitelbaum's comments make me continue to believe that the CRCA sees lightweights and the lightweight committee as an unwanted step-child for whom they've been forced to care. With new leadership I think the committee will play a larger role in CRCA activities. This committee structure may actually prove to be useful for lightweights, but it's impossible to tell until it raises some difficult issues to the full membership. Until it becomes an unruly step-child.
There is a problem, however, with the unruly step-child model. The lightweight coaches on the committee will have to be unruly to their bosses and future bosses. In many cases, but not all, lightweight coaches report to the women's heavyweight coach (see the recent Wisconsin coaching announcement). In many more cases, for reasons of pay and authority, those lightweight coaches someday hope to be heavyweight coaches (men's or women's) at the more prominent heavyweight powerhouses. All that makes it awfully tough to be unruly.
Nonetheless, I do believe that the current committee, building on the momentum of the best lightweight season ever, will be able to make some major inroads in the CRCA. It will require a deft political hand and an ability to uncover latent lightweight support. There are many heavyweight coaches who support lightweight rowing, and the lightweight committee needs to mobilize that support.
The obvious question, of course, is mobilize that support to what end? I'm not privy to the committee's agenda and I'm sure it doesn't need my help to set it, but...
I have a suggestion that would help grow lightweight rowing, but would be perceived to cause some pain for heavyweights. A suggestion that could only become reality with the support of the heavyweight coaches. A suggestion that would probably be dismissed out of hand but shouldn't be. I'll explain it in a coming post.
Monday, August 14, 2006
A few months ago a reader took me to task for criticizing the CRCA (Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association) without really understanding what the CRCA does. I thought that this was a fair criticism so I decided to write to Andy Teitelbaum, the president of the CRCA, to ask what that organization's attitude is toward women's lightweight rowing and how they have supported the category. I began by noting the existence of the CRCA lightweight committee and said that I was interested in how the organization as a whole, not the committee, views lightweight rowing. My questions were as follows:
One of the missions of the CRCA is to "Promote women's rowing as a collegiate sport." Given that mission:
- Does the CRCA support the continued growth of women's lightweight rowing?
- If so, what actions has and will the CRCA take to support that growth? If not, why not?
- Does the CRCA support a NCAA National Championship for women's lightweights?
- If so, what actions has and will the CRCA take to support that championship? If not, why not?
- What is the CRCA's involvement with the IRA Regatta, the National Championship regatta for women's lightweights?
- What does the CRCA believe is the most pressing issue in women's collegiate lightweight rowing today? What has the CRCA done to address that issue?
The pertinent part of Coach Teitelbaum's response was as follows:
The CRCA is a membership run organization. The activities and emphasis of the association are driven by its members. We have a Lightweight Committee. It is an opportunity for any coach (lightweight or otherwise) or CRCA member to be involved with issues and agenda items that specifically involve lightweight women's rowing. As President of the CRCA I entrust that committee to be the mechanism which brings issues pertaining to lightweight rowing to the rest of the membership.
Of course I wrote again and raised a few specific issues such as the inherent conflict of interest in the CRCA's sponsorship of a lightweight committee when most heavyweight coaches (as I've been told by a few) see lightweights as a drain on heavyweight resources. I also noted some more symbolic issues such as the ineligibility of lightweights for All-America honors and of lightweight coaches for coach of the year honors. I think a few quotes from Coach Teitelbaum's response will accurately convey his meaning.
There are many conflicting interests that reside within the CRCA. While it may be true that coaches have told you that lightweight rowing may cause a reallocation of resources at their school, there is still a place for a lightweight voice within the organization. As for the All America awards, perhaps the lightweight committee should bring up this issue to be considered by the awards committee or directly to the board. It doesn't seem fair to criticize the CRCA members or the Board for neglecting to address lightweight issues which the lightweight committee has never identified as a priority.
The CRCA is looking out for the interest of lightweight rowing exactly to the extent that the active members which represent that segment of the rowing population have expressed.
You are correct that lightweight rowing represents a minority interest in the overall membership of the CRCA. As such, much of the membership is not actively working on lightweight issues. It is for this reason that we created a special committee for lightweights in the first place.
The idea that the CRCA membership as a whole should be paying more attention to lightweight issues is unrealistic. The people who should be moving the lightweight agenda within the organization are the people who are most affected by it.
Chew on this for a day or two and I'll next post my thoughts.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
I like to look at lightweight entries at Worlds every year as another check on the health of women's lightweight rowing. There are three events for lightweight women - the 2x (the Olympic event), the 1x, and the 4x. This year both the 2x and the 1x have more entries than last, while the 4x has one fewer. Only four events have more entries than the LW2x (22, the same as the heavy women's 1x and LM4-), and they are all mens'. The LW1x has 21 entries, seventh in popularity. The LW4x is farther down the list with only six entries, although the LM4x has five and the heavy women's 4x has eight highlighting the lower popularity of that boat class (the heavy men have fifteen). It's interesting to note that the light women and light men both have a slightly higher percentage of entries than events, while the heavy men and women are the opposite. I don't know how meaningful that is but I'll take it as a sign that demand for lightweight events is relatively strong.
I think this kind of indicator is important because if demand remains high internationally, FISA will look favorably on lightweight events. If FISA looks favorably on lightweight events they stay in the Olympics and remain a medal winning opportunity for the US. If they remain a medal winning opportunity for the US, USOC and therefore USRowing will see lightweight rowing as worth developing. That can only be good for collegiate lightweights. As the USOC and USRowing continue to emphasize number of medals, a WL2x gold is just as valuable as a M8+. This kind of thinking has resulted in the mens' priority boat being the 4- this year, not the eight (i.e. let's see if we can win in a smaller boat and then spread around those 8+ rowers). It's kind of like a team championship, isn't it? The country with the most medals wins, except there are no extra points for eights. Hmmm, the LW2x just as valuable as the M8+? That's not very NCAA like, but that might be where the USOC is headed.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
There's a great story on row2k about the last race of the lightweight 1x trial which concluded last Saturday. It's just so, well, "lightweight." Early morning weigh-in followed by a launch from an empty dock. Almost no one was there except the two rowers and the officials. The trials for the other boat classes had already concluded as the lightweight 1x went to three races. "...in the single on a morning like this, after the starter calls 'Attention, go,' the competitors will row side by side for over a mile without hearing another human voice."
At the end of this race one athlete was on the national team and the other went home. They wished each other good luck at the start and shook hands over the gunwhales at the finish. Unlike so many crews these days who stand in boats, hold up oars, and jump into the water or each other's arms, these two lightweight women won and lost with dignity. They showed respect for each other and for the sport. I have yet to see a winning women's lightweight crew make fools of themselves when they win and I hope I never do. Let others hug and salute themselves and act like they've never won before, while lightweight women win with class. That is what rowing is all about.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
USRowing Nationals took place July 19th through the 23rd and a quick look at the competitors in the intermediate lightweight events shows that college lightweights didn't stop going after one another when IRAs ended. I'm sure I missed an athlete or two, but there were several women in Indianapolis who looked across the lane markers to see a familiar face.
In the Elite/Open Lightweight 4x, '06 Harvard grad and NYAC rower Sara Bates met up with Pocock rower and '05 Wisconsin grad Katie Sweet. In a three boat race the Pocock 4x finished first over NYAC, which finished third. Despite the dearth of entries in this event it was incredibly competitive as Sweet's winning Pocock 4x later won trials and will represent the US at Worlds in Eton. Marist rower (they put out some lightweight boats) Lisa Daniello also rowed in the NYAC 4x. Bates went on to win a national championship in the senior lightweight 2x, beating five other boats.
UCF rower Melissa Kroll competed for the Chicago Rowing Center in the intermediate lightweight 4x, finishing third of four boats. Kroll won a national championship in the senior lightweight 2-, finishing first of two. UCF teammate Lauren Schueler, rowing for Steel City, raced the intermediate lightweight 2-, finishing second out of two boats. Kroll also raced the senior lightweight 4+, finishing second out of five boats.
The intermedaite lightweight 2x and 1x saw the most collegiate foes face off. Rowing for the Boston Development Camp, an all Radcliffe 2x of Mariah Evarts and Naomi Ford went out in the heats. UCF's Lauren Schueler's 2x finished fifth in the nine boat field. Under the heading of mixed marriages, the fourth place intermediate lightweight 2x from Undine Barge Club was comprised of Bucknell's Caitlin Doolin and Princeton's Madeline Davis.
Three of the 2x competitors also faced off in the intermediate lightweight 1x. In a sixteen boat field, Radcliffe's Ford went out in the semi, as did UCF's Schueler. Princeton's Davis made it through to finals and finished fifth of sixteen. Although not a lightweight event, Davis also raced the Elite/Open 1x Dash, finishing fifth out of eight.
Both Radcliffe and UCF had at least two returning rowers competing at nationals and who will come back to their college programs with great racing experience. Summer racing isn't for everyone and is best avoided for those worried about burn out. For those enthusiastic about maintaining a high level of training through the summer months, however, it provides great racing experience, exposure to new coaches, and, as is the case with at least one 2x, the opportunity to train and compete with women you previously only knew as rivals.
If you look at the number of entries in these events, you'll notice that the sculling events, and particularly the single, have the largest fields. (The elite events are a special case because there aren't many rowers at that level and this year trials started just one week after nationals.) Not only does sculling help you become a better sweep rower, but if you want to row as a lightweight outside of college, you must scull. The only Olympic event for lightweights is the 2x and the only event at Worlds for lightweights are the 1x, 2x, and 4x. You'll notice that each of the rowers I mentioned above competed in at least one sculling event.
Canadian Henley begins this week and no doubt some of these same rowers will compete there. The competition there is from all over North America and the fields will be much larger. Many of the larger events will run heats with only two to advance to semis (no reps). This method of progression certainly finds the very top boats, but it does result in some fast crews getting knocked out early. By Sunday evening Eastern Daylight Time, the summer rowing season will officially be over (unless you're off to Worlds!). Then it's time to pack the unis and the Coolmax shirts and head back to school for the head season.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Despite what I said below about how few national team members come from the top lightweight teams, Katie Sweet, who graduated from Wisconsin in 2005, made the national team in the lightweight quad this morning. (A reader beat me to this post with a comment a few minutes ago.) Needless to say, this is a tremendous achievement and given how we've seen the quality of lightweight rowing rise in the past year, I hope Katie is in the vanguard of an assault on the national team by rowers who rowed lightweight in college.
A reader posted a comment that said, "UCF is looking for a new coach." I have no confirmation of this and I don't know anything more than that, including whether this might be a lightweight coach or a coach for the entire program (heavies and lights). If it's the latter, I happen to know of a former Wisconsin lightweight coach who attended UCF as an undergraduate and is available...
As a sign of how close the season is, UCF has already announced their informational meeting.
[Update: See comments for the latest.]
Thursday, August 03, 2006
The Ohio State Lightweights also have a new head coach after Peter Steenstra moved on to coach at Cornell. Hugh Dodd, takes over a lightweight women's program that has worked its way onto the national scene and has won the ECAC title. There is a lot of upside for Coach Dodd to exploit. Dodd, formerly the men's freshmen coach, will be head coach for both the men and lightweight women.
Interestingly enough, Coach Dodd rowed at the University of Washington, the same alma mater as Wisconsin's new coach, Erik Miller. [Update: I originally thought that the two coaches were teammates but as a result of some paperwork requirements and other red tape Coach Dodd's official graduation date is out of kilter with his actual rowing dates. They missed being teammates by three years or so.]
Erik Miller has been named head coach at Wisconsin. Miller will have the difficult task of following three-time national championship winner Mary Shofner. Miller has a sparkling rowing resume, having spent eight years as a member of the US national team. He spent those years as a lightweight so he should be in tune with the unique peculiarities of lightweight rowing. He served as an assistant coach for the Wisco men and for the Wisco summer collegiate women's camp so he was a known quantity for Bebe Bryans. One thing seems certain, he knows what it takes to compete at the highest level so we'll see how he brings that knowledge to his athletes.
Under the heading of old web pages never die, check out Coach Miller's old site. [Update: Well, they do die when the owner realizes it's been linked to and replaces the content.] You can get an idea of some of the workouts he went through while on the national team as well as few other things about him (the accompanying picture, for example). Stand by for a lot of "rusties," Badgers. It also turns out that cooking and BBQ are hobbies of Coach Miller, so I guess the Wisco women can expect a lot of cookouts at his house (turkey burgers, of course).
Coach Miller went to the University of Washington which doesn't have a lightweight men's program, yet he raced for the US as a lightweight. This is something I've noticed among lightweight national team women as well - it seems as though most national team lightweights come from heavyweight programs. Where are the Wisco, Radcliffe, Georgetown, and Princeton national team lightweights? A few theories come to mind, but they're for another time.
Coach Miller walks into the best of situations and the worst of situations at Wisconsin. The best because he will be coaching the three time national champions. The worst because he will be coaching the three time national champions. They can't win forever (can they?), and with the improvement we saw in the field last season, there are plenty of worthy successors. I don't know how much you'll need, but good luck, coach and take care of the top lightweight program in the country!
[The news about Coach Miller's hiring was posted in the comments section of FITD by a Wisco lightweight while I was on "hiatus." Thank you for that posting and please keep them coming. Thanks to a reader, FITD was first with the scoop. As you may have guessed, this post means that FITD will be back for at least another year. (Some of you are smiling, some of you are cursing; just so you're not yawning!) Even though it's the summer, I've missed a lot. I'm getting my head back in the boat and should be up to speed soon. As always, please send me your news, comments, and suggestions. I pay attention to them all and because you all know much more about lightweight rowing than me, you're the best source of information I have.]