GVSU Rowing Crew set to row in Head of Charles Regatta in Boston

GVL / Archive
Nate Biolchini and Keegan Jahnke rows a pair out onto the Grand River

GVL Archives

GVL / Archive Nate Biolchini and Keegan Jahnke rows a pair out onto the Grand River

Judson Rodriguez

College sports are about more than just winning. Representing a school is the highest honor a collegiate athlete can achieve, while splitting time between the classroom and the sporting world.

The Grand Valley State University club rowing teams have the chance this weekend to represent “Laker Nation” at one of the most unique sporting events in all of college sports: the Head of the Charles Regatta in the heart of downtown Boston.

The regatta features teams from Harvard University, Columbia University, Brown University and GVSU, as well as many other alumni-based teams. GVSU has been making noise in the rowing world for the better part of the last decade, but head coach John Bancheri thinks that other schools are starting to give GVSU the respect nationally that is due.

“They’re going to notice us,” he said. “You’ve got all these Ivy League schools and then you have GVSU right in the middle of all that. It’s really a great representation of the impact our team is making nationally.”

Bancheri knows that the weekend is more important than just a feel-good sporting event, it carries over into life beyond college.

“Most graduates from Harvard are not going to be working a blue-collar kind of job,” Bancheri said. ”In the future, that businessman may remember rowing against GVSU and may see your name stick out in a pile of a thousand because of this connection.”

The $100 price tag on the trip couldn’t be more worth it for the students who will participate in Boston’s heralded boat race.

“You know a price tag can’t really be put on the experience that we get to have,” said rowing club president Andrew Zwierzynski.

The team will have the experience of a lifetime as they get to travel Boston’s famous “T” subway, and see the sights of Harvard Square and Cambridge.

“Whenever we go somewhere, we try to give the athletes some time to explore the world we live in, and there isn’t a greater place to take a look around than Harvard Square,” Bancheri said.

Alumni involvement has really pushed the program to the upper echelon of the rowing world.

“What does it say about a school when you have alumni returning to participate in an event after years of being out of school,” Bancheri said.

Men’s rower Keegan Jahnke said it’s nice to have the alumni presence within the program, pushing them through training. “They really help motivate us through the training process,” Jahnke said. ”They’ve all done it before, so they know what we are going through.”

GVSU will send its most boats ever to the event with two women’s 8 boats, a men’s 4 and a men’s 8 boat competing. These four top boats are all fast enough to medal, Bancheri said.

While winning is always the goal in sports, the team knows how important this race will be for GVSU.

“We have the chance to really do something special for GVSU and take the Laker for Life motto to a whole new level,” Bancheri said.

The boats have been on a torrid pace lately in practice, completing the practice course in the fastest times ever. Bancheri said the team is physically ready to go, but at the same time its important to stay loose.

Jahnke may have found the best way of all.

“I plan on drinking the Charles River water for two reasons-luck and to see if it tastes like tea,” he said.
[email protected]