Westdale Rowing Community

Information for the Westdale Rowing Community

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CSSRAs: From a Former Coach

Dear Westdale Rowers,

Mike, Tom, and Peter have kindly allowed me to write a¬†post to all of you in light of the upcoming CSSRA races this weekend, so here it goes ūüôā :

Throughout this past year I’ve had the privilege of seeing the blog updates from Mike and Tom in regards to your hard work, training, and racing results. It’s been incredibly awesome (in the true “awe inspiring” sense of the word) to see how much you’ve all developed athletically and progressed.

I’ve missed coaching you at Westdale, but I know that this year’s team has been doing a great job – both the athletes and the coaches. As you move into your final regatta of the school year, I want to leave you with this:

You’ve worked so hard for this. For many of you, you’ve been training multiple years for this. “Good luck” is something that I could say, but I reckon that “luck” is not as important as executing what you already know and have been trained for. You KNOW¬†what to do. Go do it. Make it yours. And have fun. ūüėČ Knowing that you’ve left everything you could on the water after rowing to the best of your capabilities as a team is the most important thing. Yes, even more than your final numerical placement on a scoreboard.

I’ll be cheering for¬†you, across a different kind of pond, in a slightly different continent. My heart is at the regatta this weekend.

Miss you all… and sure, I’ll still say it: GOOD LUCK!!!

(Former Westdale Rowing Coach 2006-2015)

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Training Plan & Lost Items (We Found You!)

Dear Rowers,

Are you missing your favourite yellow-capped water bottle? (Featuring: water! included! FREE!)
How about your beautiful blue water bottle? (Featuring: humid precipitation droplets! included! ALSO FREE!)
Or even your lovely green Thinsulate Woods “Lite-Loft” insulation bag to carry your crucial camping gear? (Featuring: NOTHING ELSE, JUST THE GEAR! what a win!¬†TOTALLY FREE!)

They want to go home.¬†Please, give them a home.¬†They don’t like living with me.¬†Seriously. I’m cruel and leave them alone in the den gathering dust. This is no life for a water bottle or air-mattress carrier.

So, if these are your items OR if you think you know the items’ owners (even if they’re from another school), please contact me so I can return these sad, lonely items to your possession.

In other news, TRAINING PLANS! YAY!
Please see the following PDF for an overview of the training schedule from now until CSSRAs: WSS Rowing 2015 Training Schedule (A. Gage РMAY & JUNE)

See you all in the morning *yawn*,

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Chili Cookoff Parent’s Meeting, March Break Training, and Welland Tank Session

Dear Athletes & Parents,

Three quick notes in this post:

1) Parent’s Meeting – Thursday, March 26th @7pm in the WSS Library

Mark your calendars: Thursday, April 16th will be the night of Westdale Rowing’s Infamous Chili Cookoff! PREPARE YOUR CROCKPOTS. GET READY FOR A SHOWDOWN. EMPTY STOMACHS WILL BE FILLED. The winner is still to be determined…

The parent’s meeting on Thursday March 26th at 7pm in the WSS library will address the Chili Cookoff (which has been organized by the Parent Reps), as well as important outdoor rowing information (fees, waivers, regatta dates, safety requirements, practice schedule/training requirements at LBC).

2) March Break Training – Monday, March 16th from 6-8am @LBC

There will be one official “At LBC” practice held over March break this year. The team practice will run on Monday, March 16th, from 6-8am at Leander Boat Club. The rest of the week will be comprised of workouts that athletes can complete at home on their own time – these workouts will be posted to this blog. If athletes would like additional assistance with technical development on the erg or on the tank aside from Monday’s practice, then they should contact Alessandra with their availability & the name of a partner that would join in the practice (there must be at least 2 athletes for an extra practice to be held).

3) Welland Tank Session – Sunday, March 29th from 12-3pm @WIFC

We will be holding a mandatory tank session for ALL outdoor rowers on the Men’s & Women’s Teams. The tank session is booked for Sunday, March 29th, and will run from 12-3pm at the Welland International Flatwater Centre (WIFC). Plan to be there for the entire session, as we will be rotating athletes through the tank & the gym (for information on the facilities available, click here). Directions can be found here, but will also be posted closer to the session date.

See you all tomorrow for the coach-swap,

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Team Lunch + Mac 2×4 Times and Shirts

Dear Westdale Rowers,

If you haven’t signed up yet for tomorrow’s team lunch¬†at the Mandarin (12:30pm, Upper James location), then please sign up today on the Doodle poll & click “save” so that your response is recorded here:¬†http://doodle.com/wstu5fvupw47xi32¬†

Mac 2×4 Shirts – If you have not already collected your Mac 2×4 racing shirt, then coach Mike will distribute them tomorrow morning in the racing area (McMaster University Student Center Atrium). If you did not purchase a shirt this year but are racing, then please bring last-year’s racing shirt. All athletes are expected to wear their unisuits & Mac 2×4 shirts for the event.

Mac 2×4 General Info – I’ve already posted info about the 2×4 below, but here’s a short overview (*waivers NOT required*):
1) All athletes arrive at 7:30am in the McMaster University Student Centre Atrium (Google “McMaster University Student Centre” to find directions).
2) Check-in immediately with coaches & weigh-in if required (weigh-ins open at 7:30am)
3) Injured athletes are encouraged to attend to cheer on their teammates
4)¬†Athletes must bring: water, food (breakfast + snacks), *DUCT TAPE & CARDBOARD FOOTSTRAPS* (coordinate with your team for this part), racing unisuit & Mac 2×4 shirt
5) Schedule of events can be found here:¬†Mac 2×4 Event Information – 2015 Schedule

8:00am = Jr. HS Women & Jr. HS LWT Women
8:40am = Jr. HS Men & Jr. HS LWT Men + Coxswain Race
9:20am = Sr. HS Women & Sr. HS LWT Women & Club U19-JR Women
10:00am = Sr. HS Men & Sr. HS LWT Men & Club U19-JR Men
10:40-11am = Highschool Awards & Trophy Presentations
12:30pm = Team Lunch (All-You-Can-Eat) at the Mandarin (please sign up asap so I know numbers here: http://doodle.com/wstu5fvupw47xi32) Cost is $19.99 (about $25 total when including tax & tip).

This is our final indoor race of the season,¬†but our¬†first team/crew race, so we’re faced with our first racing opportunity to really push together as crews – not just as individuals – against other highschools in the Golden Horseshoe region & GTA/Hamilton-Wentworth. A big part of the race will be determined by how well you work together as a team through transitions and motivating one another, so let’s use this as a good challenge: talk with your teammates, figure out what gets them motivated, and communicate as a team so that you’re smooth on those transitions.

Good luck Westdale!

See you all at 7:30am,

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Tomorrow’s (Monday) Mac 2×4 Training – IMPORTANT

Dear Westdale Rowers,

Congratulations on a day well raced at yesterday’s Ontario Indoor Rowing Championships. We had a total of 7 “Top Ten” finishers that took home shirts (Lauren, Sadie, Breanne, Harrison, Lucas, Erik, Luke), and a gold medal finish in the Sr. Men’s category (Luke). More¬†importantly, a large number of athletes achieved personal bests, seasonal bests, or managed to¬†match their personal bests within a second. These are all great accomplishments, and you should be proud of what you accomplished – both individually AND as a team.

I was proud to see that Westdale Rowers respected the racing etiquette (remaining seated on the erg until all other racers have finished) and were good team players, congratulating competitors from other teams. This is how we build a strong team presence at regattas – it’s how we get recognized by other schools and competitors, not only as a strong team but as a team that demonstrates good sportsmanship.

Important for Tomorrow’s (Monday’s) Practice:
2) At least ONE member from each team should bring a pair of cardboard footstraps (coordinate this with your teammates)
3) Wear your unisuit
or Westdale Athletics clothing with the school’s colours
4) Submit your signed permission form to Alessandra immediately upon arrival
5) Set up the ergs in the middle gym, as well as the mats, then begin your warmup (15 laps of the gym/25 squats/dynamic stretching)

For a permission form, please download, print & have your parent(s)/guardian(s) sign this form:¬†Consent To The Release of Personal Information – Mac 2×4 (Cable 14)

We will be training in our Mac 2×4 Teams. Be sure to attend practice – your team is counting on you. Guest coaches & varsity rowers from McMaster will be joining us to lead the practice. Cable 14 will also be filming part of our practice for a local news promotional segment on the upcoming Mac 2×4 race.

If your parents have any questions or concerns about the permission form, please have them contact me (Alessandra). We need to ensure that all athletes attending Monday’s practice (which includes anyone racing at the Mac 2×4) submit their signed permission forms.

See you all bright & early,

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Cable 14 Visit – Mac 2×4 Prep Day (Monday, March 2nd)

Hello Westdale Rowers,

As mentioned during our debrief this morning, our Mac 2×4 racing prep day will be held on Monday, March 2nd, with guest coaches Aubrey Oldham (former national team athlete & Westdale alumnus), Karl Zimmerman (McMaster varsity rower), and Cliff Murphy (McMaster University coach).

In addition to practicing in your Mac 2×4 racing crews with your removable foot-straps (bring cardboard please!), Cable 14 has said that they would like to come in to film part of our practice as a promo segment for the Mac 2×4 event.

We (coaches) request (of athletes) a few things:
1) Arrive early – 6:25am for erg setup
2) Wear your WSS racing gear (e.g.: unisuits OR last year’s racing tank tops with unisuit/black spandex shorts underneath – unisuits are preferred though)¬†
3) Everyone participating in the Mac 2×4 race MUST attend this practice (you will be racing with your team)

…please don’t let your team down. Be there. On time. Ready to train.

The guest coaches (Aubrey, Cliff, and Karl) all expect you to be ready to go at 6:30am sharp. So do Mike & I.

See you all tomorrow morning,

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City Championships – Congratulations!

Dear Westdale Rowers,

CONGRATULATIONS!!! You all did a phenomenal job today in pushing yourselves to your limits and achieving some great racing successes. A quick recap so that everyone knows what transpired:

First and foremost: WE WON THE CITY INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS! This means we have the honour of keeping the City Championships trophy until next year. I’ll bring the trophy in on Monday morning so that you all have a chance to see it for yourselves (you earned it, together!).

Winning the City Championships demonstrates how, although we race individually during the indoor season, our individual successes influence one another as a team and work together to create success on a team-level. The City Championships was not won by any one particular athlete. You cannot win the City Championships on your own. It was won through the hard work of ALL of you. Well done, Westdale ūüôā

Westdale also set 3 new record times:
Harrison McCann set a new record best for the Jr. HS 165 Men’s race with a time of 7:02.
Erik Heinbecker set a new record best for the Jr. HS Men’s race with a time of 6:48.
Luke Gadsdon set a new record best for the Sr. HS Men’s race with a time of 6:22.

Westdale secured a solid SEVEN gold medals in the following categories:
-Jr. HS 165 Men (Harrison McCann)
-Jr. HS Men (Erik Heinbecker)
-Jr. HS 135 Women (Sadie Boyter)
-Jr. HS 145 Women (Katie Yungblut)
-Jr. HS Women (Lauren Gadsdon)
-Sr. HS Women (Breanne Hyslop)
-Sr. HS Men (Luke Gadsdon)

WOMEN’S TEAM: Congratulations! Your team placed FIRST in the City Champs for overall points on a women’s highschool rowing team. Mike and I are both very proud of you.

MEN’S TEAM: I’d like to send a BIG shout-out to the Men’s team for getting an all-time high of personal bests. 10 of the 11 athletes racing all achieved PBs, and the remaining athlete was very close to their PB (only 4 seconds off), still securing a gold medal. Achieving a personal best is important (even more important than winning medals)¬†because it indicates¬†personal improvement and demonstrates how your training is impacting your racing abilities. As a team, you can never guarantee a medal because you can never tell how strong your competition will be – the competition is always changing and is external to your personal race. Medals are byproducts of working hard. What you CAN guarantee is your own personal improvement through training and, through that, you increase your chances of placing and/or succeeding as a crew by pushing yourself to your own personal limits. I’m MORE proud of the personal bests achieved than of any of the medals won today, so to ALL of you: a big congratulations and job well done. We also placed second overall to St. Mary’s – by only 1 point – at the City Championships for overall points on a men’s highschool rowing team. ūüôā

PHOTO ALBUM FOR CITY CHAMPS: Please click here for a public album that can be viewed if you’d like photos from today’s races. To view the photos on a regular Facebook album, please click here (this only works¬†if you have a Facebook account). If you have photos you’ve taken, please send them to me (Alessandra) and I can add them to the album so that everyone can see their athletes’ & teammates’ races. Peter was away today, but I’ve tried to compile a group of photos given that we missed his expertise this time around.

Super proud of all of you.

See you all on Monday morning @6:30am at Westdale,

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Training Tomorrow (Monday) 6am @LBC

Dear Westdale Rowers,

First of all: CONGRATULATIONS on finishing your first indoor regatta of the winter season. For some of you, this is your first regatta ever. Racing CIRCs is tough due to the timing of exams, so kudos to all of you for making it out and pushing yourselves to your limits. Mike & I are proud of you all.

Some of you may have been happy with a personal or seasonal best, while some of you may have felt disappointed with your results. The most important thing about CIRCs is that this gives us a baseline to work from for the upcoming races, and Ontario Indoors is our “peak” race, so we’ve got plenty of time to prepare. Regardless of whether you’re happy with today’s races, we’ve got lots of positive things to work from to improve. The indoor season is all about personal fitness and personal improvements, attained through training as a team where you can push one another to your limits. Let’s keep working toward this.

RE: Tomorrow’s (Monday’s) Practice¬†@6am at Leander Boat Club:¬†

Tomorrow’s practice will be held at Leander Boat Club at 6am EVEN if there is a snow day. Practice will still be running. Please ensure that you give yourself ample time to shovel out your cars. There are two practice scenarios, depending on whether or not a snow day is called:

Scenario #1: If there is NOT a snow day: Practice will run from 6am-7:45am. There are showers at LBC that athletes can use, and you’ll have a full 50minutes from the end of practice to make it to school in time.

Scenario #2: If there IS a snow day: Practice will run from 6am-8am, followed by a team snow-fort challenge & snowball fight (and crew breakfast). BRING YOUR SNOWPANTS JUST IN CASE (and warm clothes!). Be ready for a snow battle.

See you all tomorrow morning bright and early. With snowpants. Now enjoy the SuperBowl (or don’t, if it’s not your deal) ūüôā


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Welcome Back! Practices This Week & Next

Dear Westdale Rowers,

Welcome Back


you survived

…Now it’s time to get your booties back to practice to prep for CIRCs.

Back to Practice


Practices this week & next week are as follows:

Wednesday, Jan. 28th:
9-11am @ Leander Boat Club
Men – Race Prep & 500m pieces (4x500m @6km split +3″ 1st/4th, @2km split 2nd/3rd; R:2min)
Women – Tank, Core, Cardio
*If you need a carpool, please contact me (Alessandra) and I will assist in finding you a ride (we realize many parents are unable to drive those hours)

Thursday, Jan. 29th:
9-11am @ Leander Boat Club
Men – Tank, Core, Cardio
Women – Race Prep & 500m pieces
*Again, if you need a carpool, please contact me (Alessandra)

Friday, Jan. 30th:
6:30-8am @ Westdale Secondary School
ALL – Race Review on Erg; Race Planning (Mental Prep) & CIRCs Requirements (Waivers, etc.); Core; Run & Circuit

Saturday, Jan. 31st: OFF (sleep! relax! do nothing!)

Sunday, Feb. 1st: 
CIRCs (CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS) in Mississauga (here’s the info)

Monday, Feb. 2nd: 
6am-7:45am @ Leander Boat Club *THIS IS NEW*
Men –¬†60min: Warmup + Recovery Erg (2x20min @ 6km split + 13″; R:3min), 45min Tank & Core
Women –¬†60min: Warmup + Tank & Weight Circuit #1; 45min Recovery Erg Rotation

Tuesday, Feb. 3rd: 
6:30-8am @ Westdale Secondary School
Men – Warmup; 40min Weight Circuit #1; Lunge/Squat Circuit; Stretching
Women – Warmup; Erg (2x20min @6km split + 13′; R:3min); Core & Cooldown

Wednesday, Feb. 4th: 
6:30-8am @ Westdale Secondary School
Men –¬†Warmup; 3x18min Erg @ 6km split + 8″; R:3min; Physio Core & Stretching
Women – Warmup; 40min Weight Circuit #2; Lunge/Squat Circuit; Stretching

Thursday, Feb. 5th: 
6:30-8am @ Westdale Secondary School
Men – Warmup; 40min Weight Circuit #2; 25min fartlek runs (yes, this is their proper name)
Women – Warmup; 3x18min Erg @ 6km split + 8″; R:3min; Physio Core & Stretching

Friday, Feb. 6th: 
6:30-8am @ Westdale Secondary School
 10min warmup; 30min Rotation Short Relay (Erg/Squats/Core); 30min team run with stairs; 20min Core & Stretching

Saturday, Feb. 7th: 

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact your primary coach.

See you all tomorrow morning & enjoy the slight sleep in!


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CIRCs Info (Women, this is especially for you!)

Hey Rowers,

Hopefully your exams are going well! For those of you who have science exams, please enjoy this ferrous wheel (one of the best carnival rides. mmm iron and ferrousiousness (?)):

Wow, what a cool looking ferrous wheel. I love ferrous wheels.

Wow, what a cool looking ferrous wheel. I love ferrous wheels. Seriously though.


Women’s Team – Mike needs details from any women planning to race at CIRCs (Sunday, Feb. 1st). Entries are due this weekend, so this is a friendly reminder that any women planning to race at CIRCs must email Mike (coachroche@bell.net) with their full name, date of birth, and weight (for the purposes of racing category) by Friday, January 23rd.

Please email Mike, as nobody wants him to feel like this (and not doing so will likely result in this):

Let's keep Mike sane. Please email him :)

Campaign to keep Mike sane. Please email him.

Men’s Team – your entries are done. I’ve got your confirmed details and have submitted them to Mike. Good luck on exams & see you when you’re able to return to practice (regular mandatory practices begin again next week on Wednesday) ūüôā

Thanks folks,