Grand Valley State hopes for continued success at Aberdeen Dad Vail
By Eddie Levin
The Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta has always held a special place in Grand Valley State University coach John Bancheri’s heart.
As a spectator, Bancheri attended several Dad Vail Regattas with his Atlantic City High School rowing teammates along with his coach Robert G. Garbutt. During that time Coast Guard dominated the men’s varsity heavyweight eight under the guidance Bill Stowe. Awestruck by the intense competition Bancheri could not wait to be part of what has become a rite of spring in Philadelphia.
Since the inception of the program in 1964, Grand Valley State has been a staple at the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta. When Bancheri took over nine years ago, he wanted to make sure the tradition continued.
“In my opinion and at the level I have coached, the Dad Vail has been the “holy grail” in the sport of rowing,” Bancheri said. “It has a great diversity of programs, providing competitors a chance to show their speed in a variety of events at several different levels. The joy in what I do is in having a group of student-athletes that thrive on reaching the next level and rowing against the best and fastest teams possible. I expect this year will be better and faster than ever.”
For the first time since 2009, the Lakers women’s varsity heavyweight eight crew will arrive in Philadelphia as the defending champions with high hopes of defending their title in the 76th annual Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta on May 9 and 10.
“Winning an Aberdeen Gold Medal is what you work for,” says senior Shelby Welbaum, who now rows in the seven seat for the women’s varsity heavyweight eight. “Every stroke you pull is to win a medal. It was indescribable.”
Prior to last year’s title, the Lakers rowed to a third place finish in 2011 before taking a step backward in 2012 finishing fourth. To come close but not have anything to show seemed to give Grand Valley extra motivation.
“The Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta is the Super Bowl of rowing,” Welbaum said. “It gives you a chance to show your colors. Our win was huge. We understood what we needed to do in order to win.”
Grand Valley looks for continued success
As a reward for winning gold in Philadelphia, the women’s varsity eight traveled across the pond and raced to second place finish falling only to Oxford in the Grand Finale at the Women’s Henley Regatta.
Joining the women’s varsity heavyweight eight at this year’s Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta will be the men’s varsity heavyweight eight; men’s freshman eight; men and women’s novice four; men’s freshman four and the women’s lightweight JV four.
Not a group to be satisfied with its past success, the Lakers picked up where they left off in the spring with a successful fall campaign.
The women’s varsity heavyweight eight took most of the headlines again in the fall winning gold at the Head of the Charles Regatta.
“We had as good a fall season as we’ve ever had,” Bancheri said. “From rowing pairs to the women winning the Head of the Charles, we had a very productive fall season.”
A productive fall season is key for a program that had to replace members from each boat including the women’s varsity eight that had to replace five of eight members.
Bancheri said, “It’s tough for any crew to replace five rowers, especially when those athletes came out of the bow and stern pair. With those girls graduating we lost our top ergs and some of our best techniques. With that said, it gives an opportunity for five young women to step up and they have been stepping up. That is why winning the Head of the Charles was great to see as a coach.”
While the women enjoyed success in the fall, the men’s varsity heavyweight eight kicked off its spring season in fine fashion winning the Cal Cup at the San Diego Classic.
With the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta less than a month away, Grand Valley State hopes to build on its success in the fall and what they have accomplished to date this spring.
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Aberdeen participates in sponsorships where it can get actively involved and make a difference to an event, individual or team. Aberdeen’s current sport sponsorship portfolio includes properties across golf, sailing, rowing and hockey. The group is also involved with a number of cultural and arts sponsorships.
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Content reviewed and published: 4/14/2014 5:11:10 PM
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