The team is hoping to finish the season strong at the Head of the Lagoon after a difficult season. (Image Courtesy Jez Garcia)
By Maddie Sciba
The Women’s Rowing team is rarely talked about around campus, with many students not even knowing that Saint Mary’s has a NCAA Division I team. Every morning at 5:30 a.m., the team meets in front of the basketball gym and drives 30 minutes to Briones Reservoir for practice. They practice until 8:00 a.m., then rush back to school in time for team breakfast in Oliver. Although the spring is their major racing season, the Gaels raced in one regatta and two scrimmages this fall season.The fall season has longer courses, with races being 5,000 meters long, as opposed to the spring season’s courses being only 2,000 meters long.
The team has been pushed a lot this season, but it was nothing that they couldn’t handle. Sophomore Olivia Watson explained how the lack of a fall season last year has affected the Gaels for their last spring season and this fall season. “During the spring, they pushed us a lot harder so in the fall it would be easier. It is a challenging but healthy challenge. Not having a fall season last year let us, as a team, work on things that we would not have otherwise worked on.”
The Gaels started off this season with a scrimmage against UC Berkeley. Both the SMC crew and the Cal crew practice at Briones Reservoir in Orinda. The scrimmage, which was aptly named The Battle of Briones, proved a challenge for the Gaels, as they raced one of the best teams in the country.
On October 10th, Saint Mary’s crew headed to the Port of West Sacramento for their first regatta in two years, aptly called the Head of the Port. The Gaels raced two boats at the regatta, the Varsity 8 and the Second Varsity 8. Each boat consists of 8 rowers and one coxswain (the small person with a microphone who steers the boat). The Gaels finished second and third, coming in behind Sacramento State, but beating two UC Davis boats. This was a strong race for the team, as they were able to beat both UC Davis boats on their home turf.
Coming off that race, the Gaels scrimmaged CSU Humboldt at Briones on October 23rd. Humboldt’s crew is a strong competitor of Saint Mary’s and gave the Gaels a difficult race. They did several short races, only going 1,250 meters. Overall, both Saint Mary’s boats were close behind Humboldt’s A boat and beat both Humboldt’s B and C boats. This was a great experience for the Gaels since they will be seeing Humboldt shortly at the next regatta. The crew’s final regatta of the fall season approaches as this article is being written. Head of the Lagoon in Foster City is a difficult race, with one of the most challenging to navigate courses. The Gaels will be racing two crews against one CSU Humboldt crew, one Sonoma State crew, a Stanford crew, two UC Berkeley crews, and three University of Washington crews. It will be a challenging race, but the SMC crew has been working hard and is prepared to race their best on November 13th at 1:15 p.m. Team captain Emily Ferbet describes her attitude going into the next race, “We’re competing against some really top-tier teams— Washington, Stanford, and Cal—but our team knows what we’ve been practicing and if we execute that, we’ll be happy. This is the last fall race for us, so we’ll be giving it everything we have.”
Melanie Moyer '22,