Letter to the Editor: In response to ‘A day in the life of Lindsey Cusack and the Illinois rowing team’

By Cameron Carter

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When I heard that Will Gerard wanted to do an article on the Illini Rowing team, it seemed fortuitous. The team is participating in Race for ROW Chicago, so getting a mention in The Daily Illini was great.

When the article came out, some athletes believed that it showed them in a bad light. I did not see it that way. I thought it reflected what rowing at the University is like from a non-athlete’s perspective. However, from a coach’s perspective, it was a glowing endorsement.

In a steady rain the team was able to go out in their lineups for a swing row, get off the water, teach novices how to derig and load a trailer, and get back to classes on time. All of this before many of their fellow students had gone to bed. It showed a team culture passed down from each generation of student-athletes.

Bill Grier brought amazing levels of organization and logistical structure along with a passion for the sport. Coach Grier facilitated the purchase of a three-line, six-lane course with the remaining three lanes in the works.

Now the alumni are stepping up in a big way. The Illinois Rowing Association provides equipment and coaching for the team.

Without the ILRA, the athletes would still have no on-water safety launches for the coaches. Though the coaches names rise to the tongue, there were and are dedicated students that serve on the executive board, do community service with the Junior League and Clinton Lake State Park and participate in the Race for ROW Chicago.

The current group is working hard as well, with three women’s boats making the grand finals last season with the novice women’s 8 coming in fourth in a close race from first to fifth place, behind coach Michelle Victora. Coach Noel Naughton and assistant coaches Nate Cogan and Nick Walker get their feet wet five days a week before getting on with their programs.

The rowers in these groups understand the struggle of club rowing. They understand that when you are in a club program you sometimes have to get your feet wet. Sometimes more than your feet. What appears to an outsider as “frantic” was an efficient and committed group of student-athletes who have obviously seen something in each other and themselves that is worth getting up early to the best office view one could want. Thank you for the perspective.

Cameron Carter, Head Rowing Coach; University of Illinois Rowing

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