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Hello friends, family, and alumni,

Your anteaters have been hard at work over the holiday break to prepare their engines for the upcoming racing season. Before we ended the fall season and bunkered down for final exams, the coaching staff, and team leadership sat down to strategize how we might start building future leaders of the team once our dedicated seniors graduate from the program. 

With the massive influx of new oarsmen to the program and lack there of multi-year depth due to COVID. We sought how we might hyper accelerate new oarsman into future varsity oarsman and beyond.

For those who have been part of the program over the last 8 years you are very familiar with the Winter Meters Challenge. However, this year we spiced up the challenge to give more leadership opportunities to the non-traditional multiyear leaders and let those members be an asset to the teams. Nine self appointed team captains select teams of 8-9 oarsman draft style to construct their teams, unknowing of the challenge and rules that would be applied.
Does performance outweigh trust?

We are trying to build next generational leaders through rowing. Easy right?

We can all agree the best people you can surround yourself with are high performance high trust individuals & when you put those people into a rowing shell you get really fast crews. For the rowers reading this you know exactly what we are talking about, the trust that your brother or sister in arms are pushing for you down the entirety of course is something that is unique to the sport. It what makes winning a rowing race so uniquely special. All the work that goes on behind closed doors day in day out to build that pinnacle of performance and trust.

I think most of us would rather race with the low performance athlete that is high in trust. Knowing that they will be there when the going gets tough even if their athletic pedigree isn't there. So it goes without saying our culture encourages trust first. 
So you might ask "ok we know how you build performance, through strategic training, and skill based exercises, but how do you build trust?"

We thought long and hard about this too.

We as coaches have to constantly manage a large number of student-athletes in a forever changing environment. We have developed a culture that fosters trust within the athletes. However for this Challenge, the athletes are the ones in charge and managing the micro units and the ones who are going to be building trust within their teammates across all boating classes. 

We wanted to see their leadership styles and how they managed their squads. We found this might be a way to hyper-accelerate trust within the groups and populate an even stronger team culture upon return. 
Winter Meters Challenge 2021-2022 Details

1. Winter Meters Challenge starts December 11th at 6:00AM PST. and the Winter Meters Challenge Concludes Saturday January 1st at 4:00PM.
 

2. Each team must come up with a team name and ‘4x’4 graphic associated with team.
 

3. Team captains will be in-charge of data entries. Athletes must communicate their total meters daily and how meters were achieved to the captains for data entry.
 

4. Remember this challenge is to make you a better oarsman and athlete choose the hardest path and that will most likely be the right path. If you ever have questions about training please reach out to Coaches directly. 

 

5. Remember two things will ruin your gains:
A. Junk food = Food that tastes good but doesn't help us achieve our goals.
B. Junk training volume = All the random stuff you do that doesn't systematically contribute to your goals. 

 

6. 3x Meter on two Religious Holidays  - We want incentives to spend time with your family on your designated religious holiday, be efficient with your time and receive 3x meters :)  Ie: Two days of Hanukkah, X-Mas Eve, X-Mas Day, New Years Eve etc. 
 

8. There will be special meters triple challenges sent out, if complete in the hour of being sent out you will receive triple meters for the workout. 

The Winter Meters Challenge has thus concluded and our victor this year is:
Team "Meters Madness" led by captain Phil Lechner with grand whopping total of 3,047,500 meters. Congrats to Phil Lechner, Gavin Dunn, Brendan Piquelle, Carlos Dominguez, Summer Yang, Brooks Kinney, Tair Kuzhekov, & Taylor Moran.

Runners up were Team "Unsinkable II" 2,732,359 meters & "Pullin Peters" 2,534,399 meters.
We did a leadership recap with all the captains and asked them a series of questions on their learnings. 
 

Q. Describe the Winter Meters Challenge in your own words?

Catherine Swanson '24 : Opportunity to get stronger physically, when you don’t have the team around you and work on ones weaknesses.
Celeste Trinity Henry '23 : Test of the dedication to ourselves and team.
Haley MacKay '23: It's all about building consistency in our team habits by keeping connected off the water without the leadership of coaches.
Hannah Debray '22 (PhD): I would describe it as a strategy to keep everyone training hard and buying into the kind of work that needs to be done to win championships. It keeps everyone motivated through tough winter months when it’s cold and you don’t have the team physically there to motivate you.
Michael LaBarbera '24: I was previously a leader in drumline, so I know how important it is to push through the entire season. I encouraged my team to treat the challenge as a 3 week push, not a 3 day sprint.
Philip Lechner '25 (PhD): The Winter Meters Challenge was a lot like rowing itself in that even if even if people have different maximum outputs, everyone has to contribute to the best of their ability if the team wants to win.
Nathan Lacsamana '24 : The Winter Meters Challenge kept me in touch with all my friends and low key kept me super hype during the break to see all the hard work everyone was putting in. 
Lily Hasley '23 :  The WMC is an effective way motivate the team over winter break and understand keeping up physical fitness during the academic break. Competition aspect of it helps the team stay motivated over a long break.
Alanna Fernandez '24 : Tests ones dedication to the program to continually work as a unit to build fitness over a period where most sleep in.

Q. What was leading your team like? Did you have any previous leadership experience?

Catherine Swanson '24 : I used to be the captain of the basketball team before joining rowing. I didn’t get a lot of feedback initially but kept providing resources throughout the competition. Focused on individual and didn’t press as hard to try and motivated them. I aimed to keep a positive attitude about training and making the process fun even when it was fun. 
Celeste Trinity Henry '23 : I was a captain of my high school soccer team which has a lot of coronations to leading the winter meters challenge.There are some members who are naturally more motivated and others who need a little push in the right direction.
Haley MacKay '23: I've had quite a few different leadership experiences and to be honest when it came to drafting teams, I was unsure on a few members who I selected and how I could help provide a positive experience for the team, but my assumptions were totally off - these were some of our hardest working teammates I've ever had.
Hannah Debray '22 (PhD): My previous leadership experience comes from both an athletic and an academic/professional setting. As an athlete, I have captained many teams throughout my journey with sports, from track and field to swimming to soccer. As a graduate student and young professional, I assumed leadership by teaching my own classes of 20-30 undergrads, and ascending to management positions for various paid positions. I would describe the experience of leading during the Winter Meters Challenge as a positive one! It was cool to see people put in the work, and stay motivated despite not being at the boathouse with the rest of the crew. Several of us got together for lifting sessions over break, which helped some less experienced people feel more comfortable in the gym.
Michael LaBarbera '24: I used to be the leader in drum line and I right away set the tone for the team in that this is a three week challenge not a three day challenge 
Philip Lechner '25 (PhD): I was able to draw on my leadership experience from two years as captain of Emory Crew in undergrad. Leading my winter meters team was very similar in that I tried to lead by example and remind people that as long as they put in the work, good things will come.
Nathan Lacsamana '24 : I have previous leadership experience from student council in high school & being a lead in the video game club. I'm a computer science major so my natural instinct was to build systems, however I quickly learned that without habit forming nobody used my systems I implemented. I also should have been more firm with some of my decision making. Overall great learning experience.  
Lily Hasley '23 : Being the Women's Team President this year allowed me to go into WMC with previous leadership experience, and strengthen my skills despite having little on-the-water experience.
Alanna Fernandez '24 : I currently hold multiple leadership positions in different clubs across campus. Being a captain encouraged me to stay active because I wanted to set a good example for the team. Right away, I wanted to make sure we had a good line of communication and that everyone had a plan of action. I performed weekly check-ins with the group to track progress and emphasized accountability. 

Q. What are your biggest takeaways from the Challenge? What are you most looking forward to?

Haley MacKay '23: The biggest takeaways from the WMC is in the development of every individual's dedication towards the team and consistency with their workout habits. I am definitely looking forward to getting back to the boathouse and seeing the progress everyone has made and will continue to make over the season.
Hannah Debray '22 (PhD): My biggest takeaways are increased fitness, a motivation to train hard and break PRs, and a newfound excitement at how many of my team worked so hard and were so dedicated during the challenge. I am looking forward to racing, and kicking butt in the spring!
Michael LaBarbera '24: Our biggest takeaway is our chance to explore different aspects of our athletic abilities. Spencer kicked off the season with some gorgeous trail runs through Joshua Tree. I tried my hand in mountaineering on San Gorgonio. All around, it was exciting to see how everyone pushed themselves in activities that we don’t necessarily have time for during the heat of the season.
Philip Lechner '25 (PhD): My biggest takeaways from the challenge are that this team has a lot of motivation and raw potential, and if we can focus that into effective rowing then the sky really is the limit for what we can achieve.
Lily Hasley '23 : My biggest takeaway from the challenge is that it's difficult to stay motivated every day, but having teammates keep one another accountable helps establish discipline and a sense of personal responsibility for training off the water. I'm excited to get back in the eights stronger and more mentally prepared to work hard than when we left -- let's go win some championships!!
Alanna Fernandez '24 : I was able to focus on training by myself, which was more difficult than training with the team by your side. This has given me a new perspective on being active along with the ability to push myself while encouraging others to do the same. I'm looking forward to all our hard work translating into the boats and can't wait to win this season! 

In conclusion, we found that there is an array of different leadership styles all with their strengths and weaknesses from the naturally extroverted vocal leaders to the systems based leaders. Each leadership style built in the factor of trust and trust for one another. When these leaders work together in harmony is where we will find the magic. The camaraderie built by the entire group over the Challenge will help evaluate us come racing season. Looking forward to continuing to build toward our gold standard and make some really fast boats this spring.

Data collected over 74 Roster Athletes the team captured a Fall Quarter Team GPA: 3.555 

Congratulations to all our 4.0 student-athletes
Alexandra Huff '23, Celeste Webb '25, Chloe King '22, Connor Basile '22, Landon Rakhshani '25, Philip Lechner (PhD) '25, Somayeh Zanganeh '23, Spencer Mathews '26, Tyler Mathews '24, Nora Liu '25, Ashley Wright '22, Mathew Gies '23, Jamil Jubran '22

2022 Race Calendar

February 19th – Parker Cup – Newport Beach CA (USA)

March 5th – California Challenge Cup – Newport Beach CA (USA)

March 19th – Newport Regatta – Newport Beach CA (USA) / Men’s Team

March 20th – Berg Cup – Newport Beach CA (USA) / Women’s Team

March 21st -27th – Spring Break Training Camp

March 26th - 27th – San Diego Crew Classic – San Diego CA (USA) / Full Team TBD

April 9th – Collins Cup – Newport Beach CA (USA) / Full Team

April 16th – TBD

April 30th-May 1st – Western Intercollegiate Rowing Championships – Sacramento CA (USA) / Full Team

May 19th-21st – American Collegiate Rowing Championship – Oakridge TN (USA) / Full Team

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