MSU Scrimmage Reflections

Below are two reflections on the Michigan State scrimmage. One is by a Varsity rower, John Kelty, and the other by a Novice coxswain Alex Kruszewski.

"Harmony, balance, and rhythm. They’re the three things that stay with you your whole life. Without them civilization is out of whack. And that’s why an oarsman, when he goes out in life, he can fight it, he can handle life. That’s what he gets from rowing.”  - Daniel James Brown. The Boys in the Boat

The inaugural “Battle for the Paddle” was a satisfying opportunity to have our practice course, the St. Joseph Rive in South Bend, crowded with boats and color and competition, the banks and the bridges lined with cheering spectators. It was an exciting day, and Notre Dame performed well, especially considering how easy it may have been to fall prey to complacency. It is, after all, where we practice.  But the Irish oarsmen were focused and raced hard.  We may not have achieved all that Daniel James Brown speaks of in the above quote regarding “Harmony, balance, and rhythm” but we improved. The Notre Dame Rowing Team has turned an important corner in its historic development. Our victory in the first-ever “Battle for the Paddle” gives us additional confidence going into the “hidden” season of winter erg work.

After the race, I had a chance to socialize with members of the Michigan State University team. Perhaps it is simply a characteristic of the athletes attracted to the sport, but each of the young men and women with whom I spoke were articulate and thoughtful, and each was a committed athlete and competitor. That said, one cannot suppress the very special nature of our team, of Notre Dame Crew. I will always be honored to be among those counted as members of Notre Dame Rowing Team.

- John Kelty


For the novice crew, the Michigan State head-to-head scrimmage was really the perfect capstone to a strong fall season. After several long head races it was nice to get out on the water lined-up right next to a competitor and race in five sprints. As a coxswain, getting out on the water for sprints was great because the boats being close together got me excited to race, and, in turn, my rowers got excited as well. In the first piece my boat’s focus was really just to beat the Michigan State crew, and we were able to achieve that goal. However, the day included five races, which incentivized us to beat Michigan State by more and more each race. This mentality of having a stronger race each and every time we get out on the water is something that we are really excited about, and want to carry into the spring season with us as we shoot to finish at the top of every race, including ACRAs. All in all, the scrimmage was the perfect capstone to a strong fall and led to my boat being so enthused with rowing that we actually have already been gathering together to watch the GoPro video recordings that we took of the scrimmage to help us reflect on the scrimmage, remember the collaborative motivation and unity we felt during those races, and learn more about where we can improve in our surge through rigorous winter training to win ACRAs at the end of the spring.

- Alex Kruszewski