Minutewomen competing in Dartmouth Head Regatta

By Neil Carroll

As the temperature gets colder and the season starts to change, the Massachusetts crew team rows on in its fall season.

However, this week the UMass lineup will be sporting a different look.

The Minutewomen will be competing in the Dartmouth Head Regatta in Hanover, N.H. on Saturday, but the race is only for novice rowers. The varsity rowers will have another week off, as they continue to train and condition for their more competitive schedule in the spring semester.

The Dartmouth Head race will feature all freshman rowers, but the boats in the races have to be made up of balanced experience levels.

“You have to make even boats,” UMass coach Jim Dietz said during the team’s week off. “If you have experienced people, they have to be mixed with people that just started rowing this year.”

The UMass roster lists that six out of the seven novice rowers are freshman. The novice program however consists of another 30 girls who have been working out with the team since September.

The mix of talent levels in each boat presents a good opportunity for novice rowers to gain experience in their first race atmosphere.

“[The novice rowers] will be rowing with some of the experienced people, and [the Dartmouth Head] is still kind of an introduction to the sport for novices, without them getting really clobbered over their heads,” Dietz said.

The freshmen rowers who are listed on the roster include Sarah Brown, Tory Gordan, Kaitlyn MacKenzie, Noreen McDonnell, Caitlyn O’Leary, Michaela Streitfield, and Ariadne Zamelis. These rowers mainly concentrate on strength training and developing their skills for the next year because they don’t officially compete in races, besides the all-novice races.

The UMass novice team is coached mainly by assistant coach Alex Binkowski, who is in his third year here at UMass as an assistant.

The rowers in the 2013 class that Binkowski deals with make up one of the largest recruiting classes in recent years.

The Minutewomen train in a philosophy that is rare throughout the team-oriented rowing world, but has helped the team achieve success so far this fall season.

“Our main focus has been to be in small boats to get better skills, so that when we do get in the big boats, we can get them going faster.”

This unusual training method has aided the Minutewomen individually and in the team boats. Sophomore Julia Richter leads the singles rowers for the team after she finished first at the Head of the Fish two weekends ago with a time of 14 minutes, 23.73 seconds. The team – as a whole – took five first-place finishes in its last competition.

This week’s race will be on a section of the Connecticut River that bisects Vermont and New Hampshire.

After this week’s regatta, the Minutewomen only have one more competition. On Nov. 14 they will again send mostly novice rowers to race in the Foot of the Charles Regatta in Boston.

Neil Carroll can be reached at [email protected]