Four GVSU rowers to travel to Boston for indoor meets

Grand Valley Crew members slides up to the catch during a regatta. The team will be heading to Boston to row this semester

Eric Coulter

Grand Valley Crew members slides up to the catch during a regatta. The team will be heading to Boston to row this semester

Kevin VanAntwerpen

If Grand Valley State University rowing coach John Bancheri could afford to fly his rowers to Boston for the C.R.A.S.H.-B indoor rowing competition, he would. But the finances of a club sport are his only resources, so instead he will send them off via van on Friday afternoon to reach their destination on Saturday.

“We considered not sending anyone this year and saving the money for other needs,” Bancheri said. “But these people worked so long doing the fundraising and Rent-A-Rower snow removal on top of being a regular student. We’ve got to give them the opportunity to reach what they aspire to be.”

C.R.A.S.H.-B. is an indoor rowing competition that allows anyone worldwide to compete in races with up to 100 rowers, although teams sometimes surpass that number. This year’s event will take place at Boston University’s Agganis Arena on Sunday and the Lakers will send their four weight class rowers – women’s heavyweight rower Carey Mankins, women’s lightweight Leslie Mayville, men’s heavyweight Jacob Bouwman and men’s lightweight Robbie DeWeerd.

Bancheri said to save money, the rowing staff also considered sending just one rower. But, in the end, he elected to send all four for the good of his athletes.

“The tradition has always been that the top lightweight and heavyweight men and women get to go,” Bancheri said. “In our mission statement, we say that we want our athletes to achieve the best they can academically and athletically. As long as they want to go, we’ve got to support it.”

The primary concern involving the 17-hour drive from Allendale to Boston is that the strains of travel might affect the performance of the rowers during the seven-minute race in which they will each compete. While both Bancheri and Mayville acknowledged exhaustion could take a toll, both were also adamant the rowers could overcome the obstacle with determination.

“Yeah, we’ll be a little tired,” Mayville said.” But I think our team has learned to mentally adapt to that. We’ve learned not to worry about the little things like, ‘Oh, I didn’t get enough sleep,’ and instead just focus on what we need to do. It’d be nice to fly, but we deal with what we have.”

To save more money, the rowers will not room at a hotel. Instead, they will sleep at the home of Mark Mcilduff, an assistant rowing coach at GVSU until the end of last year, when he moved to Boston. McIlduff will also provide meals for the rowers. Bancheri called the gesture Mcilduff’s “way of giving back.”

“Everybody loved him as a coach,” Menkins said. “We always talked about how when he’s standing behind you, telling you to pull a little harder, even if you’re exhausted, you’ll pull that little bit harder. So he’s good luck for us, and I’m excited to stay with him.”

Menkins added she feels a good amount of chemistry between the four rowers, and she hopes 17 hours in a van will help them forge even tighter bonds.

This is the third time the Lakers have attended C.R.A.S.H.-B. in the last four years. They opted out of the 2010 event to save money for the Crew Classic competition in San Diego.

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