Westdale Rowing Community

Information for the Westdale Rowing Community

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Visors Now Available!

Dear Rowers,

Regatta Sport has just contacted us to confirm that the visors have arrived and are ready for pickup by a coach tomorrow afternoon (I’ll go to pick them up). This means that visors can be distributed Saturday morning at practice (or at your next practice at the club).

The jackets are still in production (I know, we can all collectively sigh in frustration) but they should be done soon and the staff at Regatta Sport will keep us posted.

Thanks for your patience – trust me when I say the coaching staff shares in your desire to have the order completed!

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Update for Men’s Team, Change for Swag Orders, and Stretching Addition for ALL Athletes

Dear Westdale,

Hopefully you feel that your practices have been productive so far. The first few weeks of rowing often involve a lot of technical work, drills, half-boat rowing, and lower-rate pieces. There’s a lot to learn in just a short amount of time, so keep your chin up and just remember: all of your crews have come a long way.

Due to limited equipment and the necessity to train in secondary boats for a few days while maintaining the “one practice per day” rule, please be patient as we rotate crews for training purposes. If you have any concerns or questions, you are always welcome to ask your coach(es). We’re here to help.

1) Men’s Team – Boatings for Friday PM & Saturday AM (this week only)
Friday PM (3:30pm) = Arnaud, Lucas, Harrison, James, Will *carpool from school lot at 3pm, by handicap ramp exit
Saturday AM (5:45am) = Max, Kieran, Harrison, Lucas *Tom will be coaching and he has your lights

The rest of the schedule for men’s team boatings will be posted later this weekend, once I’ve had a chance to confirm boating equipment with Steffan in order to replace broken riggers/etc.

2) Change for Swag Orders
For those of you in need of change for your swag orders (three of you in total), thank you for your patience. It takes a while to process everything and also to obtain change so we can provide you with the correct amount. Your change (and overview of the payment) will be available at Monday’s practice (AM & PM).

3) Stretching Addition to all Practices
We (the coaches) have found ourselves discussing flexibility quite a bit this week, so effective immediately, the following 6min 15second routine will be added to your day. Ideally, it would be great if you can do it together at the end of practice, or even at the school. As mentioned, it takes approximately 6:15 to complete. (*men’s team – you’re expected to complete this at the end of every practice as a group)

The Routine:
Six Minute 15 second Rowing stretching routine

Whether this is done together in a group or alone, it must get done daily right through to the CSSRA regatta.  Better flexibility equals a longer stroke, which equals more boat speed.

Flexibility in sweep boats is evident when bodies are able to split out (*not the same as lunging*) for full reach and a longer stroke (longer arc of the blade), like in the following picture:
Splitting from boat with flexibility

Every gain that YOU make translates into more speed for your crew. Finally, you guys have done FAR too much work since November to have it compromised by a lack of flexibility.

See you all at practice,
Alessandra, Tom, and Mike

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Dressing for the Weather, Clothing “Swag” Orders, and a Note from Coach Tom!

Dear Rowers,

Three things (and I’ll save the best for last):

1) Please dress appropriately for the weather and bring an extra change of workout clothes every day. This will help ensure that you are ready for both on-water AND off-water practices (you need those runners & those layers!), and will ensure that you’ve got something to change into if your boat capsizes. This is very important as we want you all to be healthy and safe. Hypothermia (or even generally being cold) isn’t fun – let’s do everything we can to avoid the cold weather risks.

2) Clothing “Swag” Order deadlines have been extended until tomorrow (Tuesday, April 21st) morning’s practice. I will also collect final forms tomorrow afternoon at the PM practice. We’re lucky to have been given the one-day extension, so if you didn’t have a chance to place your order today, then please ensure you’re ready with your order form & payment by tomorrow. If you need to print off an order form, you can find one here: Westdale Rowing Apparel 2015 (Order Forms)

3) Coach Tom has a message for everyone, so please see below for his post 🙂 

The other day in my introduction, I shared with you the quote that means the most to me in rowing:  “What the mind believes, the body will deliver”. There are a couple of stories that I’d like to share with you.

In 2007 while I was coaching at Christchurch Girls High School in New Zealand, a 14-year old girl showed up to training.  I knew Grace because I coached her sister and I had Grace pencilled in as a potential coxswain.  At the time, she was under 5 feet tall and weighed 49kg (108 pounds).  Grace insisted that she wanted to row, and as was our policy, she was not denied the opportunity to try.  At a December erg test, Grace pulled 7:59 on her 2K test.  That is not a misprint.  Adjusted, that is an erg score of about 6:35.  Not bad for a 14-year old!!!!  I’ve posted a picture of Grace below at our January 2008 training camp at Lake Rotoiti.  It’s one of my favourite pictures.  She rowed 14km that day and had the biggest grin I’ve ever seen after it!


Grace went on that season to stroke the U15 4+ of girls not much bigger than she was, to a bronze medal in the biggest event of the program at the NZ Secondary Schools Championships of 64 crews.  She then put on a growth spurt and represented her country at the 2011 Junior World Champs, winning a bronze medal.  She is currently a junior in the University of Washington Women Huskies Varsity 8+.  To this day, that erg test, and what this kid accomplished in that season, is the most amazing thing in rowing that I’ve ever seen.

A close second, and a great example of “What the mind believes, the body will deliver” is again, a Kiwi-themed story.  Below is a picture of the gold medal winning double from New Zealand at the 2012 Olympics in London.  Joe Sullivan and Nathan Cohen overcame a significant size difference, not to mention a deficit in the final 500 metres, to make a stunning run home to the finish and take the gold medal.


What do these stories tell us?  I think they tell us that heart and an absolute will to get the job done, are tools that are as essential as anything else…maybe even the MOST important tools you can have.  We never want to limit our potential based on what we THINK is a limitation.  The common belief in our sport is that “Tall will Beat Small”, and that does happen too.  But no matter who you are: tall, small, novice or experienced, I encourage you to open up your mind to the possibilities of what you can achieve and GO FOR IT LIKE NEVER BEFORE!  It’s a great attitude to have in a boat….and one that will allow you and your crew to aim for new heights every time out.

One final thought.  I encourage and challenge all of you to do something to make your crew better.  Improving YOUR erg scores gives you a faster boat.  Improving YOUR flexibility gives you a longer stroke.  Making technical improvements to YOUR stroke pattern limits the drag on boat speed.  YOU are responsible for YOUR speed on the water.



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Training Plan, Clothing Orders, and Chili Cookoff Fundraising Tally

Dear Westdale Rowers,

First off, CONGRATULATIONS to ALL of you for a fantastic job during your first week on the water (yes, we’ve only been on the water for a week, and we’re already ahead of where we were this time last year!). I’m proud to say that Westdale is one of the few schools that has not yet capsized, and that all our crews have been picking up the on-water rowing technique quickly.

Now that we’ve had a chance to settle into the swing of things, there are a few important things to note:

1) Launch Times & On-Dock Rules
Athletes are expected to arrive at 5:15am, set up the coach boats/oars, check their crew boats on the stretchers (this is mandatory), attach your lights, sign-out in the WSS log book, and then be ON the docks by 5:30am. Crews should be pushing off no later than 5:35am. For the Men’s Team, I’ll be timing your crews. If you need more time, then you should discuss an earlier arrival time with your crew. Launch time is 5:30am.

Please remember that running on the docks is not permitted. Crews are allowed 1 min 30 seconds on the docks (an absolute maximum of 2 minutes), so please be efficient and work with your crew to get on and off as quickly as possible without running (it IS possible). The reason for this time limit is to prepare you for regattas, where officials will limit your dock time, and to ensure a smooth flow of boat launchings at LBC. No crew wants to wait around while another crew sits for five minutes on the dock and prevents others from launching. Let’s try hard to meet these time limits – I’m confident that all of our WSS crews can do this, so let’s do it. Excellence is a habit, and it starts with what you repeatedly do on a daily basis at your own club.

2) Chili Cookoff Fundraising Tally
I’m happy to announce that our Chili Cookoff Fundraiser has raised a WHOPPING grand total of $5136 in profits. This is an HUGE accomplishment, as it is $1397 higher than last year, and the funds can be used to purchase new ergs, cox boxes, and much needed rowing equipment upgrades. A BIG thank-you to all of the parents involved (especially our coordinators, Brock & Dina), and to all of you – the athletes – for assisting in running the event so smoothly. We couldn’t have done it without your volunteering and ticket selling. We really appreciate it!!!

3) Clothing Orders
A friendly reminder that athletes interested in purchasing “swag” orders (i.e.: for optional rowing clothes/crew kit items), your order forms and money are due tomorrow at practice (AM or PM). Order forms can be found here: Westdale Rowing Apparel 2015 (Order Forms)

Please print them & return them during Monday’s practice if you’d like to receive your swag before our first regatta (this is the date by which Regatta Sport needs our order numbers). Feel free to contact Alessandra if you have any troubles with the deadline or have any questions about the orders

4) Training Plan (This Week & Monthly Plan Update)
The finalized monthly training plan will be posted later this week, but this week’s training plan can be found below. You can expect poor wind conditions this week during both AM and PM practices, so please remember that you should be bringing running shoes & appropriate clothing to every practice in case of a dryland training day.

Trying to carry a boat in the wind, it's like...

Trying to carry a boat in the wind, it’s like…

We’re already ahead in terms of “number of days on-water” in comparison to where we were last year, but we still have a lot to accomplish despite this advantage. Improvements can be made during dryland workouts too, so just remember that every day between now and CSSRAs is important – regardless of the wind conditions that greet us. You can make a difference by committing to each practice. This is our opportunity to really push ourselves as a team and work hard to reach our goals, both on-water and off. You know what you want, both personally and as a crew. Let’s work for that.

*This week’s boating lineups (i.e.: crew members) for the Sr. Women’s 8+ training days can be found here

Water – (FOCUS=POSTURE): Warmup; C6 Row 60min; 2x6k r20; add C1 8x(10-10-10) (1/2 boat takes 10 hard strokes, other 1/2 takes 10 hard, all take 10 hard together) *low rates
Dryland Backup – Men on tank/weights first half of practice (60min), Women on run & stairs (60min); then switch.

WATER – (FOCUS=SHIFTING RATES TOGETHER) Warmup; C4 row 90min; 2x”Bridge-Blockhouse-Lifts” (BBL), rates 18/20/22; 20/22/24 (rates “lift” at bridge and blockhouse; start in Valley each time).
Dryland Backup – 60min LDR followed by “House of Pain” using track near LBC.

Water – (FOCUS = DISTANCE & HAND LEVELS) Warmup; C6 row 70min; 12-15k, steady state; add trip of (10-10-10) on square
Dryland Backup – Ergs (2km) & Core & Run

Water – (FOCUS=ACCELERATING TOGETHER ON THE DRIVE) Warmup; C2 row (2x8min; 22/26spm); C6 Tech Row
Dryland Backup – fartlek runs + 7 sets of stairs at highlevel bridge; stretching & core

Water – (FOCUS=BODY SWING & SHIFTING TOGETHER) Warmup; C5 row 70′; 2xBridgeBlockhouse-Slip Pyramid (BBSP) (rates 18/20/22/24 both times; change rates at bridge, blockhouse, and entrance to slip)
Dryland Backup – 300 & 40′ run

Water – Intro to Race Day -Skills (Turning, Backing, Start Sequencing, Technical Row)
Dryland Backup – 45min run; Core Circuit 1; Flexibility Session

5) Men’s Team Boating Schedule for Primary/Secondary Boats *2x from Mike’s crews will join as required:
Monday AM – Sr. M4x, Sr. LWT M2x, Jr. LWT M2x (L/H)
Monday PM – Jr. LWT M2x (W/J), Erik 1x, Jocelyn 1x,
Tuesday AM – Sr. M4x, Sr. LWT M2x, Jr. LWT M2x (L/H)
Tuesday PM – Jr. LWT M2x (W/J), Erik 1x, Luke 1x, Jocelyn 1x,
Wednesday AM – Sr. M4x, Sr. LWT M2x, Jr. LWT M2x (L/H)
Wednesday PM – Jr. LWT M2x (W/J), Erik 1x, Jocelyn 1x,
Thursday AM – Sr. M4x, Sr. LWT M2x, Jr. LWT M2x (L/H)
Thursday PM – Jr. LWT M2x (W/J), Erik 1x, Luke 1x, Jocelyn 1x,
Friday AM – Luke 1x, Erik 1x, Sr. LWT M2x
Friday PM – Jr. LWT M4+, Erik 1x, Luke 1x, Jocelyn 1x
Saturday 5:45AM – Luke 1x, Erik 1x, Sr. M2x, Sr. LWT M4+
Saturday 9:30AM – Jr. LWT M2x (W/J)
Sunday 5:45AM – Sr. M2x
Sunday 9:30AM – TBD as required

Crew boats are as follows (a reminder):
Sr. M4x = Luke, Max, Kieran, Erik
Sr. LWT M2x = JJ, Cooper
Jr. LWT M2x (L/H) = Lucas, Harrison
Jr. LWT M2x (W/J) = Will, James
Jr. LWT 4+ = Arnaud (coxswain), Lucas, Harrison, James, Will
Sr. LWT 4+ = Arnaud (coxswain), Lucas, Harrison, Cooper, JJ
Sr. M2x = Kieran, Max
Singles = Erik 1x; Luke 1x; Jocelyn 1x

*If availabilities change, then this schedule will be ammended. I’ll explain the schedule in person tomorrow morning, so if you’re uncertain about something, then please ask me questions and I can explain it all at practice.

See you all in 5.5 hours,

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Men’s Team – Weight Adjusted Rankings & Racing Entries

Westdale Men’s Team:

Please see the following documents for the weight-adjusted scores distributed at practice: 

6km Rankings *UPDATED: Weight Adjusted Erg Rankings (Men’s Indoor Team 2015 – 6km) – UPDATED
2km Rankings: Weight Adjusted Erg Rankings (Men’s Indoor Team 2015 – 2km)

I’m still missing some data from a few athletes (“DNRD” = Did Not Receive Data). Those that have data missing for the 6km will be completing their tests this week. The 6km is an important test to complete because it gives you the target training range for each category (e.g.: Cat 4 vs. Cat 6 – each category engages a slightly different system, anaerobic/aerobic/thresholds etc., so it’s important that you train in the correct category based on your 6km test split).

Ontario Entries: If your name is listed below, then I’ve entered you for the Ontario Indoor Rowing Champs. This list is based on those of you that contacted me about racing. If you are NOT able to race and your name is listed, please contact me immediately. If you name is MISSING and you ARE interested in racing, please contact me immediately.
-Luke G.
-Max M.
-Kieran G.
-Erik H.
-Talal A.
-Lucas A.
-Evan W.
-Cooper C.
-JJ S.
-Harrison M.

McMaster 2x4 Entries: If your name is listed below, then you’ve expressed interest in racing at the Mac 2×4. If your name is not listed, then it means you haven’t told me you want to race OR you’ve explicitly stated that you’re unavailable/not interested. If anything below is incorrect (or if you think you may have a conflict), please contact me immediately. Teams will be in groups of 4. Teams will be determined after Ontario Indoors.
-Luke G.
-Max M.
-Kieran G.
-Erik H.
-JJ S.
-Cooper C.
-Evan W.
-Lucas A.
-Harrison M.
-Will S.
-Julian R.
-Talal A.
-Arnaud D.

*Those racing at the Mac 2×4 will require their team racing shirt. The shirts are being coordinated by Luke Gadsdon. They cost $15 and are designed specifically for this event, as the event requires each team to come with a specific 2×4 racing top. Any payment should go to Luke Gadsdon (either $15 cash, or $15 cheque made out to Dina Gadsdon) by this Friday, Feb. 20th.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions – especially if the racing rosters written above is incorrect.

See you in the morning,

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All the CSSRA info in one place :) (food, practice, crews, races, party)

Dear Westdale Rowers,

CONGRATULATIONS! We’ve made it to the pinnacle of our outdoor rowing season: SCHOOLBOYS. Or, more correctly known as the “Canadian Secondary School Championships” by the “Canadian Secondary School Rowing Association” (CSSRA).

Now that those races are just two days away, I’m posting (and reposting) some very important information. To begin, here are a few things for the parents:

1) Food Signup:
Dina Gadsdon has been coordinating the food signup for the Parents’ Tent, but we still require more families to sign up. She’s created a document giving an overview of how things work for food & the parents’ tent (along with some other tidbits of information), so please click here to check it out: CSSRA Food Signup & Other Info

Please sign your name up to three items each on the food list by clicking here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1HVJfTu3LJp4X3Od6rgN8oKqDBn2-lmUedm1yyW_xy7I/edit?usp=sharing

2) Driving & Parking Info, Spectator Info, Year-End Party Info:
Lori Prevec has arranged a document that covers everything you need to know concerning driving & construction notices (when getting to CSSRAs), parking costs, general regatta (and spectator) details, and information on the year-end party. Please click here to view the document and to obtain full details: All the CSSRA info needed (parking costs, spectators info) PLUS year-end party info from Lori Prevec

3) Parent Committee Lead
Lori Prevec has been a long-time leader of the Parents’ Committee, but this will be her final year as her athletes are finishing (or have finished) their time as students & rowers at Westdale. As such, we will be looking for a new Head of the Parents’ Committee. More information will follow – including a description of the main responsibilities – but please keep this in mind & contact me (Alessandra) if you are interested in getting involved in this capacity. Lori has done a FANTASTIC job over the years & we will all miss her, but I’m certain that this will also be a great opportunity for some of the new parents to get involved & see what it’s all about.

Now, for the parents AND the rowers:

1) Preliminary Race Draw:
The preliminary race draw has now been posted. For a copy, please click here: 2014 Preliminary Draw – CSSRAs
This draw WILL change before CSSRAs begins on Friday, so check the main website for any updates: http://www.cssra.ca/

2) Weigh-Ins & Race Procedures:
Weigh-in times for coxswains & lightweights can be found here: http://www.cssra.ca/#/weigh-in-rules/4564679539
Race procedures and course patterns can be found here: http://www.cssra.ca/#/cssra-rules-of-racing/4564680197

3) Thursday Practice:
All athletes racing CSSRAs are expected to attend Thursday’s practice, unless otherwise discussed with a coach due to availability. All athletes should meet me (Alessandra) at 9:45/9:50am at the entrance to the football field at the back of Westdale Secondary School. We will then take attendance & board the bus. I’ll be supervising the bus ride, and the other coaches will meet us there.

You must bring:
-food (bring a lunch & snacks, please!)
-change of clothes
-workout/training clothes (ideally NOT showing Westdale colours – it’s a tradition to wear non-school clothing so that other crews can’t tell which school you’re from until the day you race 😉 )
-yourself, on time (9:45/9:50am)

***Note: if you are missing any swag OR if you’ve ordered a hat, please speak with Jocelyn or me & we can obtain the swag/hats/etc. from Holly***

Practice rules & regulations can be found here, but I’ll review them with all crews before the practice: http://www.cssra.ca/#/practice-times-procedures/4564679972

4) LAST BUT NOT LEAST… Rigging Details!
The earliest day we can derig is Wednesday morning (tomorrow!). Please discuss with your coach which day you will be derigging.

For my crews (Men & Sr. Women): (names listed indicate the last people to practice in that boat)
The following boats can be derigged & loaded on Wednesday AM:
-Chucks (Erik & Max)
-Gadsdon (Eben) 1x (Luke)
-Monaco 1x (Jocelyn)

The following boats can be derigged & loaded on Wednesday PM (after practice):
-Vamosi 1x (Madison)

The following boats can be derigged on Thursday AM (from 6:30-7:30am):
-Ad Astra (Haley, Breanne, Brenna, Madison)
-Justice (Haley, Breanne)

If you’d rather derig all the boats on Thursday morning between 6:30-7:30am, then that’s a-okay with me, but the times above list the EARLIEST time that you can derig & load those boats. All singles have been accommodated on the trailer (thank goodness!).

Cheers, folks!

PS – OMG it’s almost Schoolboys THIS IS SO EXCITING!!! 😀

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Mandatory Spring Meeting & Swim Test

Dear Parents & Athletes,

*NOTE: Please bring in $14 for your Mac 2×4 racing shirts this week.*

The location, date, and time of the mandatory Spring Meeting (for parents and athletes) has been finalized as follows:

What: Mandatory Spring Meeting (Parents & Athletes)
Where: Westdale Secondary School Library
Date: Monday, March 24th
Time: 7-8pm

Details for the mandatory swim-test have also been finalized:

What: Mandatory Swim Test***
Where: Ancaster Aquatic Centre (http://goo.gl/maps/m5ziG)
Date: Thursday, March 27th
Time: 4pm-5pm

***If you have already completed a swim test for Leander Boat Club within the past 2 years, then you do not need to attend this test. If you hold a Bronze Cross/Medallion/NLS certification, then you are also exempt from the test if & only if you can prove this certification to me with a certificate that shows your name.

I will be offering rides to athletes in need of transportation. I have room for 4 people per trip, and have enough time to make two trips (total of 8 people). If some parents are available, then having their help in providing rides to the athletes would be much appreciated.


Chili Cookoff: Lori Prevec has finalized the date for our Annual Chili Cookoff. The Chili Cookoff is an event held to raise funds for boating equipment, and this year our goal is raise enough money for two coxboxes. Friends, family, colleagues, teachers, and anyone else you can think of are all invited to attend. Tickets will be given to athletes this week. We are in need of parent & student volunteers to assist in the event, so please email me (alessandra[dot]gage[at]gmail[dot]com) if you are willing/able to help. Lori will speak further about the event at the mandatory Spring Meeting on Monday (March 24th, 7-8pm in WSS Library).

24 Hour Ergathon: I am currently in the midst of organizing a 24 Hour Ergathon at one of the local grocery stores. This event consists of two athletes rowing during a 40min timeslot (rotations will occur) and two athletes & a coach standing nearby (with donation buckets) to explain WSS Rowing & the fundraiser to customers. The event helps raise awareness as well as funds for much-needed equipment. More details will be given at the Spring Meeting.

All the best,

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Mac 2×4 Teams & Shirt Updates

Dear Athletes,

I hope you’re all enjoying your March Break vacations, wherever they may be! This post will give you a quick overview of the McMaster 2×4 teams for the Mac 2×4 race from 9am-3pm on Saturday, March 22nd.

Information on the Mac 2×4 Races:

All event information can be found on the Facebook Event page, located here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1472336132982619 (I suggest you all click “attending” if you want the updated information from the event coordinators – it’s where us coaches are getting our information too).

When: Saturday, March 22nd, 9am-3pm
Where: McMaster University Student Centre (https://goo.gl/maps/Q5fVm)
What to Bring: you & your teammates, food, water, racing gear (we will provide you with your racing shirt)

Team Shirts: All crews racing in the Max 2×4 race are required to bring a “team shirt”. Winners of the events keep the shirts of the opposing teams. The Westdale SS racing shirts already have a design, but Regatta Sport can only produce them at $16.10 per athlete. The alternative is to make our own shirts (using the same design) for approx. $10 per athlete, using white cotton shirts & fabric marker/paint. Please indicate your preference via this SurveyMonkey poll, as we need to decide & pay for the shirts ASAP: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JLKMK3Z

Training Day: A “Mac 2×4 preparation” training day will occur on Tuesday, March 18th with Guest Coaches Aubrey Oldham & Karl Zimmerman. It is highly advised that you attend if you are racing on Saturday.

Mac 2×4 Teams:

JR LWT Women: Sadie, Claire, Katie M., Maddy

JR Women: Sophia, Victoria, Louise, Lauren W.

SR. Women: Breanne, Haley, Brenna, Jocelyn, Kiija (spare)

JR LWT Men: Tanner, Will, Jake, Tai

SR LWT Men: Hudson, Bogdan, Lucas, JJ

SR Men (2 Groups): Luke, Carmichael, Max, Erik & David, Toby, Jaedon, Nimeash

In case you missed it, here are your weights & training plans, hyperlinked:
Final Training Schedule MARCH/APRIL
Westdale Rowing Weights Regime – Spring 2014

Enjoy the rest of your holidays & be sure to fill out the SurveyMonkey poll ASAP!

I leave you with a short account of “second winter” (or “Life in Canada”) as described by Hobbits.


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Unisuit Orders Have Arrived!

Dear athletes,

I’m happy to inform you that the unisuit orders officially arrive this Monday, January 27th, and are being picked up by one of the parents. After that, Mike and I will be able to distribute the unisuits to rowers so that you’ve got proper racing gear for your competitions this Sunday, Feb. 2nd.

Just a friendly reminder that training officially begins again this Wednesday, Jan. 29th. I will post details about the practice schedule & locations tomorrow. Please keep checking the blog for updates for details concerning practice times.

See you all soon,