As TCNJ Crew prepared for the race of a lifetime, every practice was just as valuable as the last. All the hard work and preparation was worth it as the team competed in the largest race in the world — the Head of Charles Regatta in Boston, M.A. — this past weekend.
“We’ve put in a lot of hard work this semester, and we’re certainly excited to see it all pay off,” President Mike Baumann said about the team’s preparation for the challenging race.
According to Baumann, even though the team didn’t have a considerable change in mentality, they were fully aware of how important each practice on the water was. One change Baumann noted was the team’s shift to self-coaching when its head coach, Alison Pollini, “drastically” reduced her time coaching due to career commitments. In her place, varsity members stepped up by leading water practices and coaching the rowers.
But even with a slight change, the team was still able to perform even better on the water.
“There has certainly been a learning curve these past few months, but we’ve been able to maintain and even improve upon our abilities in spite of such an obstacle,” Baumann said, confident his team had improved after weeks of practice.
Although conscientious, the members were able to maintain their close-knit family atmosphere while becoming even closer. Baumann explained that the team came together with one common goal in mind: “to produce the best, fastest boats possible.”
But even with confidence come nerves. The pre-race nervousness mixed with excitement Baumann described was understandable: The Head of Charles Regatta was both the longest course that the team ever rowed and boasted the toughest competitors they’ve ever been pitted against.
The race was a three-mile-long course along the Charles River, which twists and winds between Boston and Cambridge. Beginning with a staggered start, boat after boat race neck and neck, trying to avoid being hit by an oar or hitting the sides of one of the six bridges under which they must maneuver.
Baumann, who is the coxswain for the men’s boat, said the course was “very much a coxswains race.” Baumann and the women’s boat coxswain, sophomore Angelyn Cabrales, were responsible for motivating the rowers throughout the race while also remaining aware of their surroundings. The Charles is known for many collisions and clashes between boats, as well.
Though arduous, Baumann shared that “it was the most terrifying, intense and fun rowing event I have ever been a part of,” and that it was “thrilling to have a good, clean race.”
The team was also able to share the many amazing moments of the competition with family, friends and alumni. The support was seen not only at the race but through the many donations made by the club’s supporters.
A fundraiser was created to help pay for the trip up to Boston and for the event itself. Since crew is a club team, they work hard to raise as much money as they can. Baumann was amazed at all the support by friends, family and rowing fans.
Unfortunately, the team was not able to qualify for next year’s event automatically, but the experience was one that will never be forgotten.
The members got a chance to see elite and Olympic rowers compete — something that Baumann believes will motivate the team.
“It was certainly humbling to see all the talent that exists out there in this sport, and it gives the team something to strive for in the coming years.” Baumann said. “Simply being able to row in this race was a privilege for us.”