When 11.5 percent of the 2017 United States Under 23 Rowing team is comprised of students from the University of Wisconsin’s rowing teams, it’s safe to say UW has a strong rowing program.
While this statement is true, there’s a lot more that goes into appearing on a national team roster. When the other boats row away from you in a race and you are faced with a last place finish, or are told that the fastest boat lineup is one without you in it, most people would throw around clichés or resort to blaming coaching style or unfair seat races.
But not Wisconsin rowers. They take the advice from the Porter Boathouse stairwell and accept the challenge.
Men’s Rowing: Four Wisconsin rowers earn invitation to top National Team Selection CampFour University of Wisconsin rowers have secured invitations to attend the 2017 USRowing Men’s U23 Selection Camp, a precursor to Read…
The rowers chosen for the U-23 national team team went through an extensive selection process. They first attended identification camp, where they were evaluated by coaches to then be invited to under 23 selection camp. They spent months competing among the top rowers in the country for a seat in the boat at worlds.
This year, eight rowers from the men’s and women’s rowing teams at Wisconsin were named to team USA for the 2017 Worlds Rowing U23 Championships: Maddie Wannamaker, Lexi Silverling, James Bernard, Andrew Griffin, Kyle James, Nickolas Montalvo and Thomas Walker, will race. Senior Sebastien Amberger was set to race in the men’s quad, but due to a recent injury, will not be able to compete.
Having attended U-23 selection camp for two consecutive years, Amberger attributes his success at the all-star training camp to the work ethic the Badgers brought from the Wisconsin rowing program.
“Having my teammates at camp allows us to bring our unique culture to the camp and use it as motivation to succeed,” Amberger said. “Because the way Wisconsin operates is so different compared to other programs, we take a lot of pride in our system and use it to support one another throughout the tough selection process.”
Although the eight Wisconsin rowers have been training all summer for worlds, their journey to the international event began further back.
“The entire coaching staff has really helped me develop as a rower over the last three years and were vital in me making it this far,” said Walker. “Coach Clark and his program and training breed toughness. If you commit to his plan, it becomes inevitable that you’ll be mentally and physically tough, which is one of the essential elements of being successful.”
This mental toughness is in common discourse among rowers and coaches, and proves to be an imperative aspect to pushing boundaries and reaching goals.
Wannamaker, 2017 Second-Team All-Region and Second-Team All-Big Ten rower, raced in the last year’s world championships in Rotterdam, where her quad came in last place. Despite the loss, Maddie Wannamaker rejected complacency and settled for more.
“It was a crushing loss, but I moved forward knowing I couldn’t let my only international rowing experience be a last place finish,” Wanamaker said. “I looked at what the best rowers in the world were doing, I looked at what I had been doing and I set my expectations higher.”
Silverling was also at the 2016 World Championships, but due to her “alternate” roster status, she watched Wannamaker and her teammates from the sidelines.
“Although I felt great gratitude for the opportunity, I left with a greater hunger than ever to race on the U-23 team,” Silverling said. “I used that hunger as fuel to motivate myself while training this past year. I wanted to become a better, faster rower with every stroke, heavy lift and erg test.”
Both Silverling and Wanamaker took the advice engraved on the Boathouse stairs and “accepted the challenge” — and their hard work has finally paid off. While the biggest challenge is still ahead of them, all eight Badgers have proven that they are more than capable of rising to the task.
Rowing in a league of their own, Wisconsin women compete at elite levelsOn an international stage in Rotterdam, Netherlands, rowers from around the world gathered to compete in the 2016 World Under 23 Rowing Read…
Whether it’s coaching staff and the training plan, or the attitude of friendly competition and brotherly support, Wisconsin rowers always seem to find a way to worlds.
“My biggest piece of advice is love your team and enjoy the ride,” Wanamaker said. “Rowing will always be hard work, but the satisfaction of winning as a team with people you trust and love is incredible. Sit down, be humble and have fun going fast.”