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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Women’s rowing “Guts Week” prepares team for season

The women’s rowing team during a preseason practice. PHOTO COURTESY OF SJU ATHLETICS

As the sun rises over the Schuylkill River in mid-February, the St. Joe’s women’s rowing team is already deep into their preseason practice. An indoor preseason that yields five months of early wake-ups, long hours on stationary rowing machines  and extensive cross training is capped off with what the team has dubbed “Guts Week.”

During one week in the fall and one week in the spring, women’s rowing Head Coach Gerry Quinlan divides the women into five or six teams, putting them through various exercises including swimming, weight lifting, running and two-on-two rowing. Everything the team does throughout the week counts towards a running point total that is tallied at the end of the week. The winning team takes home vintage St. Joe’s rowing gear.

Guts Week breeds competitiveness, according to Quinlan, but is also a fun way to bring out the best in his team.

“It’s about holding up your end of the bargain and competing,” Quinlan said. “We do different things so it’s not just general rowing stuff, so people can shine in effort and gutsing it out.”

Junior co-captain Shannon Mulgrew also said that Guts Week lets teammates shine in specific areas that they excel. She said it is also a good indicator of how the team will respond to adversity during the season.

“Guts Week brings out a unifying competitiveness which is exactly what we see during the racing season,” Mulgrew said. “Racing season is upbeat and competitive, so Guts Week shows that sense of aggression and spirit.”

With such a strenuous and lengthy preseason before races commence, the presence of experienced players like Mulgrew is all the more important. Mulgrew said the length of Guts Week is the most difficult part, but the idea that race day will eventually be upon the Hawks is what pushes them through the preseason, according to Quinlan.

“The seniors bring a good perspective to it, especially to the freshmen, who will realize that there’s a reason that we’re doing this,” Quinlan said. “There’s light at the end of the tunnel and the harder we work now, the more successful we will be during the spring.”

The light at the end of the tunnel is race season, especially for the seniors, as this is their last one. They not only bring added perspective and a new sense of leadership to their last Guts Week, but it also holds sentimental value, according to senior Fiona McKee.

“Last one fast one, as we always say,” McKee said. “As a senior you definitely want to go all in, but you’re also a leader for the underclassmen. It’s definitely a mentally and physically exhausting week, so being there for them and just letting them know that they have to push through it is a big part of it.”

Practicing two to three times a day for months on end without any real competition makes Guts Week and the race season all the more exciting to McKee, and it makes it that much more important to keep the younger players focused. Mulgrew and fellow captain sophomore Shane Devine, along with a strong senior class, will be tasked with leading the largest team Mulgrew has had during her time at St. Joe’s.

“At the end of the day it’s about trying to be the best in the room,” Mulgrew said. “It goes to show you are only as strong as your weakest member. This is very relevant to rowing because individually you must be talented, but the boat won’t move without teamwork.”

Quinlan echoed this sentiment, saying that holding each other responsible was one of the purposes of Guts Week and something he looked to instill in his team throughout the preseason.

“[Some of the values are] being accountable to your teammates and that everybody’s important no matter what your role is on the team, it’s an important role,” Quinlan said. “Guts Week shows us who really wants to win, and it shows us their will.”

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