Coming off of a thrilling spring racing season in which the team captured its fifth straight NCAA Div. III title and secured the overall points award with first- and third-place finishes in the Grand Final, women’s crew is hoping to carry its momentum into the fall. During this short season of head racing, the Ephs will be tested first at the Head of the Housatonic, then at the Head of the Charles and the Head of the Fish.
“The team is physically in a very good place,” Head Coach Brad Hemmerly said. “Because of [the women’s] focus and effort daily on the water, I expect our race this weekend to be a good test of where we are currently. Our 1V will get the chance to race against Div. I schools like UMass, Yale and Radcliffe [Harvard], while our 2V will be racing our traditional Div. III opponents, [such as] Trinity, Wesleyan and the Coast Guard.
“We are ready for our first test of the season, and it will be exciting to know where we stand and what issues we will need to address before we race the Charles,” Hemmerly added.
Co-captain Adrienne Darrow ’11, who will lead Williams this year alongside co-captain Anna Soybel ’11, is optimistic about the team’s prospects this year. “I’m excited to race and see how our summer fitness and early fall training match up against some of the best crews on the East Coast,” Darrow said. “We are certainly most excited about Head of the Charles though. It’s such an exciting event, and the 1V is eager to battle Grand Valley State for a first place finish.”
But competing for a first-place finish is just one of the many challenges the women will take on this season. Personnel changes in both the coaching staff and lineups have been the first test for the Ephs.
Last year’s Assistant Coach Brad Hemmerly has assumed the position of head coach, while former Eph rower Meg Conan ’09 has taken over as assistant coach. “Our team is extremely self-motivating and it’s been exciting to see that even as the official leadership has changed hands, the dynamics of the team remain the same,” 1V coxswain Becca Licht ’11 said of the changes.
The lineups of the first and second varsity boats that rowed to fourth and first place respectively in the Head of the Housatonic and to second and third place at the Head of the Charles last fall have also been completely altered. “Losing a quirky senior class and some of our physical leadership in our juniors that are abroad presents a new challenge,” Licht said. However, although more than eight of the 16 rowers who made up last year’s 1V and 2V aren’t on the current roster due to graduation, study abroad or injury, the Ephs have been able to quickly adjust and find a measure of team chemistry.
“We’ve really come together this fall, training on our beautiful but windy lake and making the most of every stroke,” Soybel said.
Above all else, though, it is the distinctive mentality of the Williams team which has allowed it to find such a great measure of success in the past and which will hopefully propel the Ephs to even greater heights this year. “I think Williams women’s crew is all about strength, both the mental and physical,” Darrow said of the team’s efforts this year. “I’m positive that our mental toughness sets us apart. We push each other and the level of competition is high.”
Hemmerly agreed with his captain in that the team’s mindset is extremely unique. “The attitude of the team, our ability and desire to accept openly whatever challenge we are faced with [are crucial]. More than accepting the challenge is the effort we all put in [in order] to succeed and conquer each challenge. Having 33 to 40 people this committed to making something work is a special thing to be a part of.”
Williams’ first regatta, the Head of the Housatonic, will take place on Saturday in Shelton, Conn.