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After fall endurance training, crew begins season

Helena Guan

The crew team begins training for their spring season this February, with an intensity level carried over from a rigorous fall non-traditional season, set in place by an enthusiastic new head coach.

When Angela Badran stepped up from her previous position of four years as assistant coach to take the place of Wendy Franklin-Willis as head coach, she brought with her a fresh attitude and a
new dynamic.

“Angela’s absolutely amazing,” said junior Aiden Thomas, in her second year on the crew team. “She’s so zen and so calm it was great. She never used the usual tactics of scaring us into focusing on our training.”

Junior Tarra LaValley, who’s ben the on the team for three years, agreed. “She’s totally changed our workout and the attitude of the team. Even though I have to wake up at 4:30 in the morning, I never regret going to practice and I never dread it. Everyone’s a lot more relaxed and focused on themselves and it helps that she’s approachable.”

Badran admits the transition was smooth. “Because I had been here for four years, I knew the system and I knew where I wanted to go with it. It was just a matter of putting in the hours.”

One major program Badran implemented for crew members as soon as the fall season began was a heart rate monitor-
ing program.

The program was customized for every athlete by establishing the athlete’s maximum heart rate. Each athlete went through a stress test at the beginning of the season in which they wore a heart rate monitor while using the ergometer, a rowing machine, and increased speed over intervals of 15 seconds until they were too tired to continue. Athletes also recorded their morning and resting heart rates for comparison as well. After recording these statistics, Badran created a chart in which each athlete was given a heart rate range to target and train for. The goal was to decrease the maximum heart rate so that the body could push harder.

“I really liked it,” said LaValley, “because usually everyone’s just trying to get a faster time regardless of what your body can handle. It seemed a lot more effective this way and we were getting in even
better shape.”

“You can train at a higher and higher level and push more little by little because the heart can push more,” explained Badran. “It was successful – they had a lot of fun.”

Fun is the only explanation for the amount of commitment these athletes dedicate to their sport. Crew training is intense, with early morning practices Mondays through Saturdays. With a schedule as rigorous as this, schoolwork, exams, and everyday life can lead to stressful breakdowns.

To better assist her athletes, Badran implemented a weekly planner session with the team. During these sessions, student athletes talked about exams, papers, or any stressful days coming up. Badran allowed her athletes to miss practice on those mornings and make it up with solo training later on in the day.

“It’s hard to balance,” admits LaValley. “I try to go to bed every night by 9 so sometimes homework just doesn’t get done. But the sessions relieved a lot of stress.”

“Many students are too embarrassed to admit that they’re stressed out so they miss a practice entirely,” said Badran. “But this does more damage than good.”

By allowing her athletes to make up practice, team attendance was stellar with only one athlete having an unexcused absence. “And she had a good excuse,” maintains Badran. “She was very, very sick.”

This level of intensity is needed, however, for such a sport as crew. In the fall, athletes work on endurance through head racing. Boats row a distance of five kilometers (5k) in races which usually take 20 min. Last Oct. 25, the team beat the Mills 5k record by 18.56 seconds at the Head of American.

The racing distance is shortened to 2k for the longer spring season. 2k races, while shorter in distance, are more intense and rely heavily on explosive energy along with endurance. For this reason alone, crew athletes are gearing up for an intense spring season that will focus on aerobics and sprinting.

“This is the season that kicks your butt into shape because of all the cardio,” said Thomas. “That’s really when you see who’s willing to hang in there.”

The team’s first race will occur at Chapman University in early March.

Both LaValley and Thomas are Varsity rowers, but both are excited for the spring season because of the new team of fresh, dedicated novices.

“The team is awesome,” said LaValley. “The dynamics are a lot healthier and the new novices are a lot more enthusiastic
and positive.”

Badran is also looking forward to her first spring season as head coach. “I’m very excited to coach them this spring. They have a lot of faith in each other and I’m excited to see where that takes them.”