By Mary Clinthorne
The wind blew, the snow and sleet pelted the rowers, and many races were cancelled, but Rockford varsity crews showed their determination on Saturday winning their two races against Saline Crew at the Lubbers Cup Regatta on Spring Lake. Originally four high schools were slated to compete in this primarily collegiate regatta hosted by Grand Valley State University; however Rockford and Saline were the only high schools to brave the lousy weather. In addition, six college crews from Michigan, Illinois, and Kansas were also scheduled to race, though the races for boats smaller than eights were cancelled.
Head Coach Tim Vallier observed that “the rowers knew that in order to have a good race they had to have a technical race, as the conditions of the lake would be unforgiving otherwise.” Rockford’s varsity men (L. Conner – coxswain, K. Clinthorne, T. VanFossen, A. Carley, A. LaBadie, J. Ullrey, C. Fase, T. Maple, and J. Nemeth) rowed through the waves and past the finish line with energy to spare, bringing home the John Zevelkink Cup.
Rockford’s Varsity women’s boat (B. VanderBerg – coxswain, E. Emerick, M. Plekes, A. Andrews, A. Dew, O. Bigelow, L. Pratt, M. Fix, and S. VanFossen) displayed their speed and skill on the water, adding the Sarah Zelenka Cup to the trophy display at the Jupiter Boathouse. The races for the Varsity B boats were cancelled because of the poor conditions on the water.
Coach Vallier summed up the day: “Being race-ready means be prepared for anything that can happen. Today the kids gained invaluable experience in racing in rough water. Racing in difficult conditions gives rowers an edge in all conditions. Getting the athletes used to these conditions early on is an added bonus as we begin the normal racing season.” Rockford Crew has regattas scheduled weekly throughout the remainder of April and May, including the Grand Rapids High School Rowing Invitational Regatta at Riverside Park on April 20.