By Jim Wrobel
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The Holy Cross women's rowing team is preparing for the 2010-2011 season in which it will look to continue its success at the Patriot League and New England Championships.
The Crusaders, who last season finished third at the Patriot League Championship and tied for second out of 27 teams at the New England Championship, are excited to be in preparations for the season. "Everyone is excited to be back out on the water," said head coach Patrick Diggins. "The team welcomed nine freshmen this year as well as a large number of last year's novices. It's been great to see how the team dynamic has been developing. There's a real feeling of "family" already. We're excited to start racing but our primary season is the spring. We're taking things very slowly and working mostly on technique. We won't specifically prepare for the fall races so that we can use the time to build a strong foundation for our spring season."
Holy Cross will use its fall season, and winter and spring trips to Cocoa Beach, Fla., to be ready to be racing at its best during the championship season in April and May. "We really try to keep our focus on being at our best in May," said Diggins. "We can't be our best without taking as many strokes as we can and getting into condition as well as we can. With Lake Quinsigamond usually iced in until mid March, the trips to Cocoa Beach in January and March are invaluable because they give us the opportunity to get on the water and also to be together as a team when the only focus is on rowing. They're a fantastic opportunity for improvement and team building."
Senior Katherine Byrns (Manhasset, N.Y.), senior Jackie Jankowski (Shrewsbury, Mass.) and junior Beth Charron (Manchester, N.H.) will lead the Crusaders as captains. "The team electing three captains this year is another indication that our team is a young one. Our two seniors, Jackie and Katherine, rowed in high school and for four years here at HC. They bring a great knowledge of how the team works. Our junior captain, Beth, also rowed in high school and is in this her third year at HC. She brings us a great connection to the younger members of the team. All three of them are invaluable to the coaching staff. Their organizational and motivational abilities are fantastic."
Holy Cross also returns junior Meaghan Pedlow (Charlotte, N.C.), who last season received All-ECAC National Invitational and second team All-Patriot League honors, while sophomore Catherine Roy (Holliston, Mass.) will bring to the team the experience of participating at the U.S. National Team Freshman Camp at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.
The Crusaders will look to not only continue their success in the water but also in the classroom. Holy Cross has had an impressive 82 overall selections to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll in the last three seasons, including having the most in the conference in 2009, and the second most in 2008 and 2010. "Our focus is always on being great student athletes and the student always comes before athlete," said Diggins. "While the scheduling is often very difficult, we only practice in the afternoon. A college campus comes alive in the evening with studying, meeting with friends, etc. We think that the afternoon practices allow the students to have a full college experience and get their work done well. While the scheduling would be much easier if we rowed in the morning, a 5:00 a.m. alarm every day doesn't allow for the best study habits or for experiencing everything that Holy Cross has to offer. We also take every Wednesday off. Since we have a large number of pre-med students on the team, this allows them to schedule required labs then. It also gives the students time to meet with professors and do many other things that are only available in the afternoon. We've always attracted a very driven student athlete. They strive for excellence in everything that they do and have an unbelievable work ethic."
Holy Cross will kick off the fall season when it hosts the Snake Regatta at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester on Oct. 9, while on Oct. 16, the Crusaders will be at the New Hampshire Championship. Then on Oct. 23-24, Holy Cross will compete at the Head of the Charles Regatta. After the Crusaders travel to Philadelphia for the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta on Oct. 30, they will wrap up the fall season at the Green Monster Regatta in Hanover, N.H., on Nov. 6. After training trips to Florida, the Crusaders will compete in numerous dual races to prepare for the championship part of the schedule.