Feb. 24, 2004
As Head Coach Lisa Glenn enters her sixth season at the helm of the University of Tennessee Lady Vol rowing program, she has never before had more to offer her student-athletes. As evidenced by the numerous accolades garnered a year ago, including an NCAA Championship invitation for the Varsity 8+ and a national ranking of 14th in the final Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Varsity 8+ Poll, Tennessee is on its way to becoming one of the nation's premier programs. With the guidance of an experienced and knowledgeable coaching staff, access to top-notch training facilities and the assistance of a dedicated support staff, the Lady Vol rowing team enters the 2003-04 campaign equipped with "The Total Package" as it strives toward a return trip to the NCAAs.
"What we are putting together at Tennessee is an exciting combination of elements intended to promote student-athlete development and success," said Glenn, who earned 2003 South Region Coach of the Year honors. "These elements include a coaching staff that is committed to each student-athlete's pursuit of excellence, as well as top-rate facilities, including the on-campus boathouse and the Thornton Center for academic support. With the assistance of our academic advisors, strength and conditioning program, sports medicine department and Team ENHANCE, and our women's athletics department overall, we have the opportunity to work in an environment where limitations are not a consideration."
During the 2003 fall slate, the Lady Vols utilized their resources and illustrated why there is no limit to what can be accomplished during the spring, as they amassed a total of seven gold medals and earned positive results against some of the country's top teams.
Highlighting the early portion of the season was UT's impressive performance at the world-renowned Head of the Charles in Boston, Mass. Facing a highly-talented 40-team field, the Championship 8+ shell crossed the line in 14th place and finished among the top 10 collegiate teams. In addition to improving upon the previous year's 25th-place finish, Tennessee defeated three teams that earned bids to the 2003 NCAA Championships. The Big Orange Club 8+ crew also had a fine showing in "Beantown," as it brought home runner-up honors and was the top collegiate finisher in its event. By earning second-place status, it marked the third-consecutive year that the Lady Vols finished in the top two slots in the Club 8+ at the prestigious regatta.
While the effort at the Head of the Charles was demonstrative of Tennessee's abilities, the squad also performed well at three other events during the fall. In the season-opening event, the Chattanooga Head Race, Glenn's contingent claimed every championship contest, winning the 8+, 4+ and 2-. Racing in front of a home crowd at the Head of the Tennessee two weeks later, the Lady Vols were equally dominant, sweeping all three championship events for the second time. To conclude the fall season, UT headed to Charlottesville, Va., for the Rivanna Romp, where it faced a talented field that included 2003 NCAA Championship participants Ohio State and Virginia. At the regatta, the Lady Vols claimed silver medals in the Varsity 4+ and nearly took second place in the Varsity 8+, finishing less than a second behind the runner-up Cavalier shell.
"As a team, we had quite a bit of work to do this fall," Glenn said. "From racing in Chattanooga, Boston, Tennessee and Virginia, the team made consistent improvements, and the Varsity 8+ continued to evolve in the right direction. We posted our best performances yet at every event. This was an important accomplishment for the team, and I am proud of how the Varsity 8+ developed during the fall campaign."
While the results of the early-season slate could be indicative of the team's ability to exceed the remarkable accomplishments of a season ago, it will be imperative that the crew remains focused on the challenges that lie ahead.
"We use the fall season as a training tool, and this year was no exception," Glenn said. "The key for us now is to realize that the fall season was just a tool we used for overall team development, and that process is still very much underway at all levels of the program."
As the Lady Vols continue to hone their skills throughout the winter and upcoming spring season, they will do so with experienced and skilled teammates who understand what it takes to be the very best.
Junior All-Americans Kaitlin Bargreen (Lake Stevens, Wash.) and Chelsea Pemberton (Jacksonville, Fla.) return as two of the most decorated rowers in Tennessee history. Last season, Bargreen became the program's initial CRCA first-team All-American, while Pemberton garnered second-team status. During her first two seasons, Bargreen has already been named to the All-South Region First Team twice and been selected as a CRCA National Scholar-Athlete. Like Bargreen, Pemberton also was honored as a first-team All-South Region selection as a freshman and sophomore.
"Last year was very special for Katie and Chelsea," Glenn said. "I am so pleased that they have been recognized this way for their hard work and contribution. Also, the team surrounded them this past year and made sure that they were not the only ones getting the job done. This is a tribute to Chelsea, Katie and the seven other athletes in that Varsity 8+ who committed to achieving a winning record so their accomplishments could be considered for the All-America Team."
In addition to Bargreen and Pemberton, the Lady Vols return five other members of last season's NCAA Championship-qualifying shell. Junior Dana Forbes (Cincinnati, Ohio), who earned second-team All-South Region distinction in 2003, has stepped up her performance in the weight room during the off-season and will once again help anchor UT's top boat. Senior coxswain Lizzie Brown (Cincinnati, Ohio) and classmate Nicole Bold (Jackson, Miss.) will be relied on to provide leadership in their final seasons at Rocky Top. In 2003, Bold was one of three Lady Vols who was named a CRCA National Scholar-Athlete, while Brown was one of 15 Big Orange rowers to be selected to the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll. Rounding out Tennessee's top returnees are junior Melissa DiCerbo (Hixson, Tenn.) and sophomore Lauren Wells (London, Ontario, Canada), who each were aboard the Championship 8+ shell that finished 14th at the Head of the Charles in the fall.
Joining the Varsity 8+ this season will be senior Jessica Shreder (Atlanta, Ga.) and junior McKenzie Craig (Pittsburgh, Pa.). Shreder already has significant experience with the top shell, as she raced with the crew during much of last spring. Craig, meanwhile, spent the 2003 season in the second Varsity 8+, helping it achieve grand final victories at the George Washington Crew Classic and at the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships.
Other Lady Vols who have gained valuable experience in the fall aboard Championship 8+ shells and will fill key roles this spring include: senior coxswain Erin Artz (Woodbridge, Va.) and classmate Amy McIntosh (Cleveland, Tenn.); junior Andrea Bagwell (Hendersonville, Tenn.); sophomores Lindsay Jones (Evans, Ga.), Amy McCormick (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Beth Schwartz (Columbia, Tenn.); and freshmen Sarah Hutcheson (Orlando, Fla.), Rachel Mayberry (Woodbridge, Va.) and Eileen Welsh (Northfield, N.J.).
In an effort to prepare the squad for championship competition in May, Glenn has once again scheduled a challenging slate this spring. The season will begin with three straight home dual meets versus Notre Dame, Minnesota and Louisville on March 13, 20 and 27, respectively. Last season, the Varsity 8+ claimed victories against the Fighting Irish and the Cardinals, while dropping a close race to the Golden Gophers.
"My priority in putting together our spring schedule is to create the opportunity to gain experience and compete at the highest level," Glenn said. "This spring provides us with both elements. It is important for us to race at home and row out of our own facility. Of course, I am also looking forward to taking the team on the road and representing our program at larger venues."
Following the dual competitions, the Lady Vols will venture away from Knoxville for a grueling stretch that will be crucial in their postseason quest, as they travel to the San Diego Crew Classic to be held April 3-4, the George Washington Invitational Crew Classic on April 10 and the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships over April 17-18 in Oak Ridge, Tenn. A week later, the Orange and White will make its second cross-country trek of the season when it heads to Pullman, Wash., for a tri-meet with 2003 NCAA-qualifier Washington State and Oregon State. After a three-week break from competition, UT will return to Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to vie for the South Region championship at the Lexus Central/Southern Sprints on May 15-16. With success in each of these events, Tennessee can position itself for a second-consecutive invitation to the NCAA Championships, which will be held from May 28-30 in Sacramento, Calif.
"The challenges we will face in rising to our established standards will mold each young woman into a stronger, more capable person," Glenn said. "We have a tremendous amount of work to do at all levels of the program if we wish to succeed, and we are just beginning. I can say without question that I am very excited about working with this particular team as we tackle our 2004 spring season."
After reaching the NCAA Championships last May, this year's crew knows the dedication and hard work that will be necessary in order to ensure a return visit. By utilizing the many resources available to maximize their limitless potential, the 2003-04 Lady Vols hope to once again employ "The Total Package" to accomplish their goals and take Tennessee Rowing to even greater heights.