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  • Hector Amezcua /

    Bryan Brennan, 18, of Jesuit High School and Parker Brooks, 18, of Oak Ridge High School, who compete with the Capital Crew men’s varsity rowing team, practice Wednesday for the for U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships to be held this weekend at Lake Natoma. Two boats qualified with the Capital Crew team and will be competing this weekend.

  • Hector Amezcua /

    Jacqueline Holben, 18, of St. Francis High School, who is coxswain for the Capital Crew men’s team, gives instructions to her teammates as they practice at Lake Natoma on Wednesday.

  • Hector Amezcua /

    Capital Crew men’s varsity team members practice Wednesday for the national rowing championship event this weekend at Lake Natoma, a 2,000-meter Olympic distance race.

  • Hector Amezcua /

    John Slater, 18, left, of Jesuit High School and David Cloninger, 17, of Rio Americano help carry their boat to the beach after practice with their Capital Crew team on Wednesday.

  • Hector Amezcua /

    John Slater, 18, left, of Jesuit High School with the Capital Crew men’s varsity team carries oars after practice at Lake Natoma for the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships coming up this weekend.

More Information

  • More information

    What: The 2014 U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships

    When: Friday through Sunday; first heats start at 8 a.m. each day

    Where: On Lake Natoma at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center, 1901 Hazel Ave., Gold River

    Cost: $5 admission fee per day for spectators


Area prep students to compete in national rowing event at Lake Natoma

Published: Wednesday, Jun. 11, 2014 - 11:06 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jun. 11, 2014 - 11:28 pm

For two Sacramento area youth rowing teams, there is nothing left to do but eat right and visualize.

The teams have trained five to six days a week, three hours a day, for the past year. This weekend they will race against teams from across the nation at the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships at Lake Natoma.

“We’ve done all the work that we can do, and now its just, ‘Let’s see how fast we are against the other crews in the nation,’ ” said Aaron Rothleder, a Jesuit High School student and rower with Capital Crew, the junior rowing team of the Sacramento State Aquatic Center.

Rothleder is one of six Capital Crew junior rowers from area high schools who will compete at the nationals. It is the first time in five years that Capital Crew has qualified men’s boats at the U.S. Rowing Southwest Junior Regional Championships, the qualifying race that made it possible for them to advance to the nationals. River City Rowing Club, based out of West Sacramento, will also be racing three boats.

In addition to a boys’ double sculls and a boys’ lightweight double sculls, River City Rowing Club qualified a varsity girls boat with a coxswain.

The rowing club first raced in nationals in 2008 and has qualified boats every year since, but this is the first time a boat with a coxswain has qualified for nationals.

Emily Magavern is the coxswain of the boat that will be racing at nationals. She sits in the bow of the boat, steers and directs the four rowers, who face away from her. A senior at C.K. McClatchy High School, she started as a coxswain her freshman year and never expected to have the opportunity to compete at the nationals, she said.

“The coxswain stereotype is you’re the short person who yells at everyone and doesn’t row,” Magavern said. “It’s fun, though, because you say things and people listen to you. It’s different. When you’re in high school, you don’t usually give orders.”

It is Magavern’s responsibility to keep her teammates motivated and on track. The team depends on the coxswain, who must develop their confidence and trust.

“As a coxswain, you are either confident or you’re just not very good, so I sort of learned that confidence, or faked it until I had it,” she said.

For Bryan Brennan, of the Capital Crew pair, knowing that his partner is depending on him is what keeps him pushing forward when he wants to give up.

The race will be 2,000 meters, Olympic distance, which is too long to treat like a sprint but too short to settle into one pace, said Brennan, a Jesuit High student.

For the rowers on the team, they focus on their goals, not on winning, Brennan said.

“Our goal was to meet our potential because that’s all you really can attain within yourself,” he said. “Then if that potential takes us to nationals, if it takes us to the podium at nationals, that’s great. But as long as we meet our potential, then it is a successful year.”

Trisha Blocher, varsity girls coach, head coach and executive director of the River City Rowing Club, encourages her team to view success in a similar light.

“Rowing is a sport that really teaches them lifelong lessons,” Blocher said. “They take everything they learn here and they can apply it in their life. Going forward into college, it continues to create opportunities for them.”

Rowing forces you to become more dedicated in everything you do, Rothleder said.

Team members have to learn how to manage time, and to qualify for the nationals, rowing is likely to become your No. 1 priority, he said.

Rothleder planned to play baseball in high school, but after his first two months on crew knew he could not leave his team to return to playing other sports.

“You get this team camaraderie because you’re all in the same boat, just like right away, because if you're not working together then the boat’s not going anywhere,” he said.

This interdependence on every member is what sets rowing apart, Rothleder said.

“In baseball you have the star pitcher, you have the star shortstop and all of that,” he said. “Here, it’s you got your best boat – and it is nine different guys. There is no star player, everyone is relying on everyone else pretty much the same.”

Rowers also support each other on an emotional level. The night before the race, Rothleder and his teammates will lie in their hotel room and close their eyes and visualize the next day’s race.

“The coxswain will cox a race, just making calls there in the hotel room,” he said. “You just see what's going to happen in the race, in different scenarios. My heart rate goes up during those visualizations – it really prepares me for the race.”

Call The Bee’s Juniper Rose, (916) 321-1164.

Read more articles by Juniper Rose

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