A word from our Club President…
April 19, 2pm – Board Meeting, Erg Room (1900 M St., SE)
April 25, 12-8pm – Kingman Island Bluegrass Festival**
**More details to come from the Social Chair
Nominating & Voting for Director-at-Large
Tom Crane, one of our Directors-at-Large, will be moving with his family to a different state. We wish to thank him for his service on the Board this year as well as representing Capital on the ACBA board last year.
The Board will be conducting an election to fill Tom’s position. If you are interested in this position, or know someone who would like to serve in this position, please email email@example.com with the subject “Director-at-Large Nomination.” All eligible candidates and voters must register as a member of the club by April 20, 2015.
Schedule for nominations:
- Nomination – Starting today and ending at 9pm on Friday, April 24
- Candidates’ acceptances – due by 9pm, Friday, May 1
- Candidate statements – due by 9pm, Friday, May 8
- Voting opens – Friday, May 15
- Voting ends – Wednesday, May 20
- Election results announced – Friday, May 22
ACBA Proposes Permanent Clubhouse Structure
Capital is looking for someone with Quickbooks experience to assist our VP of resources. Please contact Bethany O’Neil at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to volunteer.
Help us get to 100 followers on instagram (crcrowdc)! Take any good photos at practice? We’ll post them! Feel free to text them to 617-827-9940 or email to email@example.com.
Fundraising: Graphic Design Help Wanted!
Coach Spotlight: Jon Clark, Club AM
Interview by Meredith Somers
At the end of practice, when your body hurts and your mind is tired, Jon Clark has one question for you – What are the rules in the jungle? Those who’ve bent an oar under Clark’s coaching know how to answer. “It’s just a way I think to trigger people to go at their maximum effort,” Clark said. “Some people might not realize how hard they can work or what they can do, and sometimes you have to be a little hard on people to make them dig in to a place they didn’t realize sort of existed.” For the past six years Clark has been helping rowers at Capital find that place inside themselves as the coach of Club AM. Under his watchful eye, and through marathon erg sessions, cross-training, and sprints atop the water of the Anacostia River, the club has developed from a next step for novices to a competitive team training ground. And for Clark, the club has also helped develop his coaching style and expectations. “I don’t think I’m a big yeller anymore,” Clark said, “but it’s also true I’ll try to get under people’s skin sometimes to help them find another level of effort.”Clark is a Sioux City, Iowa native, and the youngest of five children.
In 1994, he left his working class family in the Midwest and headed east to Boston University. He arrived in Boston with a vague idea about rowing and considered joining the team as a walk-on his freshman year. But a scheduling conflict between his classes and afternoon practices prevented Clark from joining until Thanksgiving, when practices moved to the morning. “I enjoyed the exercising part, being part of a team,” Clark said. “I was kind of struggling being so far away from home. I was homesick, so having a team made the university a little bit more digestible, something I could get my arms around.” Clark also missed traveling with the team in the spring because he’d already made Spring Break plans, but after months of land work and missed opportunities, Clark finally got in a boat – for what would be a miserable first practice with a coach who was fond of screaming. “I promptly tried to quit,” he said. “I tried to quit a couple times. I thought this yelling stuff at 6 o’clock in the morning, like, I don’t need this. I just wasn’t interested in that. But he talked me in to sticking around.” Between his junior and senior year, Clark volunteered to help coach an adult learn to row program and, when a back injury sidelined him from a summer job moving furniture, he became more involved with the camp.
With graduation approaching (he left Boston with a philosophy degree) Clark also started to consider what would happen after school. “I was looking out in the world, wondering what I had learned in college,” Clark said. “I realized that there wasn’t much I qualified to do other than do some coaching.” Clark got his chance in 1997 when he started as the men’s freshmen coach at the University of Michigan. Looking back at those early practices, Clark acknowledges they left a lot of room for his improvement. “I was a serious yeller, I was a big time yeller,” Clark said. “My first class of freshman, I was doing a lot of belittling, a lot of hollering. I just thought that was what you’re supposed to do.” Realizing his own coach had perhaps rubbed off on him too much, and with the help of his assistant coaches, Clark decided he would get more out of his rowers if he kept the hollering to a minimum and encouraged them to be fearless, a mindset he’s encouraged his AM rowers to adopt. “Everyone’s going to make mistakes,” Clark said. “In some sense there’s also kind of a need to be free to make those mistakes and feel supported through that. If you’re just hollering at people … and get them in a tense place where they’re tense about everything, they’re not going to perform well.”
For the next several years Clark coached in Michigan and Iowa and in 2001 he was able to return to Michigan as both a coach and graduate student. “It was really neat because guys who I had coached as freshmen were seniors, so I got to see them through to a really cool finish,” Clark said. Business school and international travel would keep Clark away from a launch until 2008, when he bumped into former BU coxswain Gretchen Abell in the District, and she mentioned a coaching position for a club team. “I said. ‘I don’t have a car, I live very far from the boathouse, if you can figure out how to get me to the boathouse, I can coach,’” Clark said. “Thus began the whirlwind 4:30 a.m. pickups in Mt. Pleasant.”
Clark admits the job took some getting used to – launch issues left him cursing on the dock a few mornings – but Clark found his stroke with the club. “I just thought of myself as a team member with them in some sense, on a journey with them as opposed to I’m lecturing them, castigating them,” he said. “I think that we’ve done a good job raising the level and quality of rowing that’s expected from the Club AM program.”
As for what the future holds with the team, Clark said he is working on maintaining balance in the jungle – encouraging new rowers to join and continuing to push his athletes to new levels. “What I don’t want to do is soften the attendance expectation, because people are sacrificing so much to get to practice early in the morning. I want them to be able to rely on others in the boat sharing their commitment to getting better,” Clark said. “People just have no clue about what they’re potential is. They’ve done a certain thing for a while, there’s a little wall they need to break through or some place mentally that they didn’t realize they could go.”
Overheard at Juniors Practice:
“Life isn’t always good….only crew is.”
Meet a Member: Meredith Somers
Meredith Somers (with Amy Sweeny at left) at Masters Nationals 2014.
Interview by Tom Crane
What Capital program do you currently row for? The Women’s Competitive Team.
Where are you from? I was born in New York City and grew up in Columbus, Ohio. I moved to the D.C. area in 2008.
What got you into rowing? A few high school friends had gone off to schools where they picked up rowing and told me about the misery of waking up at dawn, hilarious novice mistakes, the giddy thrill of actually setting a boat and that euphoric feeling of getting a boat to run. It also just looked badass when I saw pictures and videos. (Full disclosure: It also seemed like there were a lot of attractive guys who rowed). So I had an idea of the sport, and a few months after moving to Washington, I started thinking about ways to increase my circle of friends and get out of the gym. I searched online in the area here to see if there was any sort of introductory class. Fortunately, Capital was one of the first links to pop up.
Why Capital? I saw there was a spring Learn to Row session, which worked out with timing, and it was in the District, which I wanted to explore. And I could see there were other teams to consider joining once I finished the classes.
Did you play other sports growing up? I was on my high school golf team and played rugby for a women’s high school club team. In college it was just random intramural stuff.
What do you like about rowing? I like the intensity of the sport. You’ve got to give 100% physically and mentally – that’s a challenge but when you win a close race, or have a really beautiful row, you realize it’s worth the work. I also like the camaraderie. Some of my closest friends are on the team and they got to be that way because we’ve seen each other at our best, our worst, and our sweatiest. I also really like that I can eat two breakfasts and not feel guilty about it.
What do you like least about rowing? Erging. Erging. Erging. Also 2Ks.
What is the biggest challenge for you right now in improving your stroke? My biggest challenge is maintaining a strong mental game. When I’m not tired, or we’re rowing at steady state 18, my stroke is long and strong. But it’s a whole other story when I’m exhausted at the end of a race or we’re at a 34 during practice. My stroke falls apart – I get short, I rush, the oar pops out of the water too soon. And that’s because my mind is telling me to stop. That’s something I’ve been working on for years, and know I will have to continue to work on it for years to come. Your muscles can remember what to do right, but that little (or sometimes loud) voice telling you to quit can totally mess up what your body is trying to do correctly.
Any advice for CRC rowers? Never think you’re done learning. Don’t complain in the boat.
What do you look forward to in Capital’s future? The club as a whole is getting more competitive and that’s exciting to think about for the future. Not only does it mean more medals for Capital but it’s more motivation for members on all the different teams. When I joined Club AM there was a distinct line between the club and competitive teams. That line has blurred over the years thanks to some amazing coaches and incredibly talented athletes. It’s also great to see how much progress has been made with the Juniors team. Every time I read an update on what they’re doing, I’m blown away by the drive of the rowers and dedication of the coaches and volunteers.
Any standout moments at Capital? A few standout moments at Capital: My first dark morning with Club AM. I was so anxious and nervous to fit in. It was like the first day of school … if school started at 5 a.m. and floated.
Getting the email that I’d made the competitive women’s team. I’ve grown so much as a rower thanks to the coaches and my teammates. This past Masters National, I had a race in a 4+ that had a lot of odds stacked against it. We put everything we had into that race and won a bronze medal. That felt pretty sweet.
Then there are just the random moments that make me laugh or make me really miss the season during the winter: Post-practice Friday breakfasts, rowing in rain storms, finding a snake in the boathouse, regatta shenanigans.
Overheard at Juniors Practice
“That tiny time every day when everything is perfectly in time and everyone is rowing in time and it’s magical. It’s usually when the sun is gold and it’s really nice!”
Board Action Updates
Juniors have enjoyed their first days on the water and are remembering what it’s like to pull together. They have officially graduated from the barges!Novice Sculling
Novice Sculling will be offering two sessions this spring under the coaching expertise of Bob Reichart. Saty tuned for registration details.Learn-to-Row
Capital is excited to launch it’s annual learn-to-row program. For interested parties, read more here.
Club PM is adding an optional Sunday practice that will run 4:30-6:00pm. The Sunday-Thursday practice option will be offered alongside the Monday-Thursday practice when registration opens.
In case you missed it…
News from around our river, our boathouse, and our community:
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