Trimmed roster breeds competition

The rowing team’s roster limit is encouraging members to compete among themselves.

As the men’s crew team nearly doubled its roster for 2014-15, Rebecca Grzybowski’s squad took the opposite route.

This season will mark the first year in Temple’s history in which the rowing team implemented a roster cap for its season, making for a more demanding evaluation period for both the coaches and athletes.

The team’s roster, which features 20 walk-ons and six recruits, was released this past week.

“It was a pretty challenging evaluation period for returners and walk-ons,” Grzybowski said. “I’m optimistic. It’s a solid group of walk-ons and we have a very committed group of returners. I have no doubt that they will rise to the occasion and are already making significant strides on the water.”

The third-year coach of the women’s program will be relying heavily on her returning rowers, especially senior co-captains Moria Meekes and Ellie Oken.

“They were voted co-captains last spring, the team sees leadership ability in them,” she said. “They’ve done a great job of keeping everybody on track and committed to the bigger vision.”

“The entire junior class has shown a lot,” Grzybowski added. “This class in particular is going to be a big component of the key change and culture.”

The culture for this year’s squad is a renewed focus on competition, in which Grzybowski said requires each athlete to push each other..

“We want a culture where everybody is driving themselves and each other to a new level every day and I think we are in a really good spot,” Grzybowski said. “It has to start this year. Everybody’s on the same page and realizes that even though it might not happen, while they are currently here, they are the ones who are laying the groundwork and the foundation to really build this program, to take it to a new height where it’s never been.”

This mindset can easily be found in the new team members, whose competitive drive help them to land spots on the squad. Walk-on sophomore, Sierra Derti, has never rowed before, but believes her competitive background will help her make an impact on the novice team.

“We are making ourselves competitive this year,” Derti said. “Pushing ourselves to our limits while bettering ourselves, bettering the team and set new goals for each other. Our goal is to bring the program up.”

While she has enjoyed her time on the team, she realizes that participating in a varsity collegiate sport is no easy task.

“Practice six days a week, three hours a day,” she said, “it’s something you need to take very seriously. Being in running shape or normal athletic shape is not being in rowing shape. I learned that very quickly.”

Cooperative spirit has quickly been passed down from the varsity to the novice team, instilling a drive in which both can benefit off each other.

“They are themselves, a goal that we all want to get to,” Grzybowski said. “We want to be doing what they are doing, in their shoes, and just as good as they are. We can push them and they can push us.”

Taylor Spoon can be reached at

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