How Liberty rowing’s passion for its craft transcends the struggles of the sport
For the Liberty men’s and women’s crew team, the balance of spending time competing and making time for academics is drastically different compared to other sports.
“We practice five days a week,” Head Coach Debbie Prowse said, regarding what competing on the team entails. “We like to get out on the water usually on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays early in the morning, so our athletes can be back in time for their morning classes that start at 9:20 on those days. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have indoor practice on rowing machines. We also run and lift weights on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well.”
Competing also looks different compared to some of the more popular sports on campus. Unlike most other programs, rowing has both a fall and a spring season. In the fall season, also known as head race season, the races are a 5k distance, which is much longer than in the spring.
“The fall season is more relaxed as we try to focus mainly on a lot of technique,” Prowse said. “We also try and teach the athletes to build a strong aerobic base during this season.”
This fall, the team has competed in two rowing events in Nashville, Tennessee, and Richmond, Virginia, and has its last race scheduled for Nov. 11, competing in the Head of the South event in Augusta, Georgia. After the final fall race, the team will transition into its winter training.
“The team is basically on (its) own for training during the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks,” said Prowse. “We usually give them a plan to follow or suggested workouts, but they are basically on their own after Thanksgiving.”
Following Liberty’s winter break, it’s back to training as a team.
“In the spring, we will have about five or six weeks for training,” Prowse noted. “We will try and work in some cycling and yoga classes and also stretching as well.”
After that, practices will return to the water around the beginning of March. From there the team will compete in its spring season, until potentially qualifying for the national championship towards the end of May. Crew is also one of the most unique sports because one dominant athlete does not necessarily make the team better.
“Our team usually rows in boats of four and eights,” Prowse explained. “Unlike a sport like basketball where you could have one athlete score a lot of points or grab a lot of rebounds, nobody really stands out when you are rowing on a team,” Prowse stated, “You really have to work as a team, when everybody works together, the team is the fastest.”
Almy is a sports reporter for the Liberty Champion