May 6, 2013
• Watch Press Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin women's lightweight rowing head coach Lisa Schlenker spoke about the team’s performance at the Eastern Sprints and looked forward to IRA championships, among other things.
Archived video of the media session is available through the link above, and a complete transcript of Schlenker’s remarks can be found below.
Schlenker: Thank you for having me. It was the third time we were able to race this year. We had another race scheduled this last weekend, but unfortunately, it was in Boston, and there was a tragedy there. On the way to the airport as that was unfolding, we opted to turn around and keep our athletes safe and just not participate.
So we've had a rough start with the weather, getting on the water April 13th. One race after spring break, then the Knecht Cup, which was one week later, Boston we missed. And we're popping back into sprints. I have to say our team is incredibly resilient. They want to race. They love the sport. We just need a bit more water time to get the results we're looking for.
Question 1: How different a sport is this? I look at your schedule, and you're in New Jersey, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Jersey, California. It's not your typical Big Ten sport where it's all Midwest. How different is that in terms of, I guess, just traveling?
Schlenker: Well, because that's what we do, we don't think it's any different. Our athletes know that they have to travel to New Jersey. We're used to the course. If we travel to California, fantastic. There's more sun there. The athletes really do know because there are certain places we go, certain venues. They like the venues. They're familiar with the venues. We don't see it as different at all. We see the same teams relatively, Princeton, Radcliffe, BU, MIT.
We get to see how they progress through the season, and we get to see how we progress against them and try different moves. So we're pretty comfortable with our travel.
Question 2: Being a first year coach, how do you think the team's responded to the new coaching style and training style?
Schlenker: Spring season, quite well. Fall season, it was a little bit of a bump. As a new coach that comes in, change means a bit of resistance, but it's change. Change can be scary. Coming through the winter season, I think the team really started to buy in.
As more individuals understood that my main goal was to make the team fast, and because we have such depth on the team we have 58 lightweights. That's a huge team. As soon as the freshmen and the sophomores started to step it up and the upperclassmen saw the results of the younger teammates, there was no question the entire level of performance had stepped up.
So the upperclassmen then realized, oh, this is working, and, oh, my gosh, those freshmen are fast. Let's see what we can do. It's been a pretty fantastic bonding spring season.
Question 3: Can you talk a little bit more about the novice team. They had a lot of success so far this spring season.
Schlenker: You know, innocence is bliss. They just go out and race the hardest. They love the sport. They don't overthink it, and they just go. If I can carry some of that to my upperclassmen and let them know how fun it is to go fast, I think we'll capture a little bit of that success.
In fact, this past weekend, in the 1V, we had two freshmen in it. In the 2V, we had three freshmen. The talent is there, the pool is there of freshmen and sophomores, and I think they're really pushing the upperclassmen.
Question 4: Looking forward to IRAs, what are you what are the prospects? Harvard-Radcliffe, are they going to be the team to beat?
Schlenker: Any team that lines up is the team to beat. You sit on the starting line, and you've got six boats lined up. You say, attention, go, and you go. Anyone that's out there is the team to beat, and that includes us. With three more weeks left to prepare, that's actually our full training season. As Bebe mentioned, we've only been on the water for two weeks.
I'm looking forward to this time. We have a very talented group. We have a hungry group of athletes. They want to perform. They're asking me for specific workouts they want to do, and it's like okay. They're telling me what they need as a competitor, whether it's mental training or physical training, for them to feel comfortable.
It's all the things that I agree with and all the things we're going to do, but it's certainly easier, it makes my job easier when the athletes take the ownership and they want to go out and perform.
So, again, with that depth, as we go to line up, I don't know who goes to be in the 1V. For each and every race, it's been the athletes choose their seats, meaning through performance. There is no given seat. I think that's what's going to be different as we head into the IRAs. Anyone who's in that 1V and anyone who's in that four will have earned it. They'll know they have earned it. There's a cohesiveness and they flow together as a team, and they will want to be out there.
So I would definitely as Princeton, Radcliffe, Stanford, of course, but so are we.
Question 5: How do you feel your first year has gone just in terms of where you were at the beginning of the year and your expectations fitting? And what's your vision for this team moving forward into the coming year?
Schlenker: I can't say that I had a lot of expectations because, as I came in, I didn't look at any of the scores. I didn't look at any of the splits. Of course I knew what Wisconsin had done in the past, but I told each and every athlete, brand new coach, clean slate. What you do today is what matters. What you've done yesterday or the day before doesn't. So they have to perform. Athletes have to perform.
As soon as they figured out that I actually held them to a high standard every single day, and if they didn't perform, they weren't in the seat they wanted to be in it's not my fault. They have to perform, and they're starting to get that.
As they started to buy into that and understand that they want to go fast and understand that I believe in them and I'm passionate about the sport, and honestly, I look to them as athletes. They are rowers, but they are athletic, and they need to be resilient in so many different ways, whether that's mind, body, and spirit, to have that success.
I'm just getting started. The seniors are coming around. They're really communicating with me more. The juniors are solid. Sophomores, huge sophomore class, and the freshmen, again, they're just having fun. So the freshmen, as they're coming up, I think the prospects for Wisconsin, it's about time we come back on top. It's been a few years.