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Spring 2017 Recap – Interview with Joe Martinez ’18

The URI Crew Club had the most successful season since 2004 last spring. Below is an interview with Joe Martinez ‘18 to recap the 2017 Spring season.

What was the team dynamic like during winter training?

The team dynamic was a bit different this year in comparison to past years, in a good way of course. We went into winter training knowing we had a solid group of guys who were committed and who were ready to push themselves to make themselves better as well as the others around them. For instance, with every erg piece whether it was a 5×5 min or 5×1500 meter erg, we each would yell out our scores to make sure everyone around you knew that you either beat them or they beat you. It created an environment that really pushed us to our limits and further, which in the end made us closer to our goal of winning New England’s.

 

Did you go on a spring training trip or stay in RI?

We did in fact go on a spring break training trip to Columbia, SC. You would figure going south the weather would be warm right? Wrong. The south this particular week was hit with a cold spell where temperatures were just above freezing, with it raining almost everyday, oh and did I mention almost no one packed warm clothes? The training itself was rigorous as it should be and running through timed pieces and seeing our hard work pay off we knew we were capable of doing something special this spring. As always we had to end the trip with a skit night where the novice impersonate a varsity team member and it was hilarious hearing some of the things the novice came up with.


How did the 8+ develop over the season?  Were you dominating dual races from the beginning or was it a slow build up?

Our varsity 8 was fast. We knew we were fast but we just didn’t know how fast until we got to our first race at Murphy Cup in Philadelphia. We went up to the line knowing what we had to do and when we got to the 1000 meter mark, I can still remember hearing the Virginia cox yelling at their crew saying “why the f*** is URI next to us right now!” By the end of that race we ended up rowing a 5:55 which was something none of us ever thought we could do and then we followed that performance up later in the day by shaving a second off and by beating the defending New England champs handily and we knew right then and there that we felt untouchable. Emphasis needs to be made on “Touchable”. We had one race where still to this day we don’t know how we lost, and to a crew that we had beaten two weeks before by 30 seconds. This was a wake up call for all of us knowing we hadn’t accomplished anything yet and that we need 100% focus going into the rest of the season in order for us to achieve our goal of winning New England’s.

 



Club rowing always seems to throw curve balls, what challenges did you face through the season and how did you overcome them?

We had some financial troubles that we are still continuing to work in order to properly maintain the boathouse. It also was a bit difficult budgeting because had our largest team in almost 30 years and we ended up spending a majority of our seasonal budget by the end of the fall season so we had to do a lot more with fundraising to help pay for our expenses, such as the work-a-thons we’re all used to and this year we had brought back our Row-a-thon on the Narrow where we had to each individually row 20 miles and we would raise so much money per mile so it was a very successful fall to fundraise money. Stadium cleanups were typical and because we’ve done such a great job in recent years, we actually now take care of the soccer, baseball, football, and tennis complexes in putting up and taking down their banners and fences linings that surround their fields, not to mention we also started raising money by shoveling the campus grounds when it snows. So I’d say we’ve been able to find many ways to help the team raise money.


Break down the NE race, how did heats go?  How did the race develop in the final?  How did it feel to earn a medal in the V8 for the first time 13 years?

During the heats our race at NERC, we were the top seed in our heat and were expected to win easily but as in typical URI crew fashion we like to make things entertaining by having everything go wrong in the first 250 of the race. We were pushed by the wind to one side halfway through the first stroke, down by open water through 500 meters and currently sitting out of qualification for the final. After the race myself and Carl were talking and we both had the same thought at the same time during the race and it was “not again”. That was in reference to us missing out in qualification the previous year in the same race. we ended up scraping by in our heat with pure determination and grit to get back in a qualification spot. We took 2nd in our heat and advanced to the final with the slowest time by almost 10 seconds in comparison to the other crews.

I’ve never really talked much about this final at NERC because of the fact that it was so surreal. All 9 of us were sitting under the bridge in Worcester at the starting line and I remember the starter said we had another 5 minutes and as I’m sure everyone had experienced this, but that 5 minutes felt like it was 5 days. Sitting there in silence, the wind was calm for a few moments and the sky cleared and we all saw the most beautiful sunset, and with that we all shook each other’s hands and thanked each other for being their with each of us in that moment and At that moment I knew we were going to do well. Being the smallest crew, rowing into a 12-15mph headwind, and all of us learning how to row just two years before, we knew we were at a disadvantage but we knew we put in the training all winter, either from ergs, running, or those dreadful Keaney stairs with the heat cranked all the way up to allow us to beat all these other crews. We raced our hearts out and ended up winning a Bronze medal, which we didn’t know at the time was only the 3rd medal for URI crew in this event in its 51 year history. It was a very special moment for all of us because it was a culmination of all the hard work and ups and downs we endured through the season together and overall a huge win for the team itself knowing how many great athletes had walked down Walmsley lane and not be able to share the same experience we did.

 

After finals you broke down into 4’s and trained for ACRAs what were practices like?  What did it take fundraising wise to get down to Atlanta?  How did the racing going from heats, semis and finals at ACRAs?

Breaking down into fours was something we had done a few times during the spring season to gain boat feel back, so it was nice to get back in the four again knowing that overall as a team we beat some really good crews in small boats because we developed a much better feel for boats than others.  So getting back in 4s and battling back and forth with a heavy 4 and light 4 was a lot of fun for all of us because there were some great battles on the water that we all know helped contribute to our success at ACRAs. in order for us to get down to Atlanta we had to originally pay for our tickets out of pocket but we ended up fundraising enough through a raffle drawing to reduce the cost by quite a bit to make it more affordable for those who were tight on money.

Going into the heats we knew times were running slow because there was a stiff headwind and rough conditions all weekend and while training in Rhode Island almost everyday we had comparable conditions so we were very used to it. we also knew our start was going to get us out in front so we laid down a really good first 550 and continued to push away throughout the race and won the heat by almost 6 seconds and seeing that the other boats in the other heat weren’t even close we knew going into the final it was our race to lose. So going into the final we just had to get from point A to Point B with no mistakes and that gold medal was ours because we knew no crew was not going to be able to catch us once we got out in front. I still remember, and we talked about it as a boat afterwards, we all agreed that was probably the worst row we had as a boat and we still won by a considerable margin. It was a very memorable moment to win back to back national championships as the same crew and now we all are back again for one last go around. we’ve got an even bigger target now and you sure as hell can bet we’ll be defending that title with more hard work and determination.

 

Season Highlights

  • Murphy cup:
    • 1v 3rd in petite
  • Knecht cup:
    • 1v 6th in grands
    • Lwt 4 1st in grands
  • Defeated Boston College in V8 dual (brought back the sledge hammer trophy)
  • NERC: 3rd in v8
  • ACRAs:
    • 1st in novice light 4
    • 1st in varsity light 4
    • 2nd in varsity heavy 4
    • 4th in men’s 4x
    • 4th in men’s 2x
    • 5th in novice heavy 4
    • 5th in women’s 1x
    • 5th in women’s 2-
    • 8th in men’s 1x
    • 10th in men’s 2-

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