By (Ehsan Kassim)

Maggie Gillespie, a junior on the Alabama women’s rowing team, was elated to have a chance to race last week in Sarasota, Florida. Being from Orlando, she got to race on her “home course” and see some familiar faces last weekend.

“My parents came out, it was great to see them,” Gillespie said. “It was really great to be back on my home course to race. I made so many great memories there in high school. It was fun to be there to make memories there with my college teammates.”

Alabama rowed well last week, 
winning three gold and one bronze medal over the course of five races 
during the weekend in the FIRA Rowing Regatta held in Sarasota.

Gillespie credited the coaching staff and the practices the team have on the Black Warrior River.

“We just trusted our training, 
really,” Gillespie said. “The conditions were really crazy, because the water and the wind were moving really fast, 
especially on Friday afternoon. But we just trusted our training. We knew that we had put in a lot of time preparing for the race. So, we just pulled as hard as we could.”

Gillespie said she believes the 
race this past weekend will boost the confidence of the team, especially as they beat schools that usually beat them in the past.

However, one concern Gillespie holds is that; due to the inclement weather and the flooding of the Warrior River, the team has not been able to get on the water so far this week, ahead of the XII Double Dual Regatta in Oak Ridge, Tennessee this weekend.

“We’ve been up in the Rec, working on the rowing machines,” Gillespie said. “We have not actually been able to go out in the water. We’re actually going down Thursday instead of Friday morning so we can get extra practice on the race course. I think that our training has prepared us really well, so hopefully it won’t affect us too much.”

Larry Davis, the head coach of the Crimson Tide rowing team, shares the same fears as Gillespie.

“The drawback we have right now is that we cannot get on the water because the river is flooded,” Davis said. “We would like to make a little more boat speed progress and that’s a little 
difficult to do if we’re not going on the water, but we’re doing some things for our land training that will helps us 
fitness wise. Then the goal is to get some extra strokes in when we get to Oak Ridge, that we had not initially planned on, to where we can solidify some of the things on the water we don’t have the chance to do right now.”

Davis had one question about the upcoming weekend: “How will the team respond to the latest adversity?”

He does, however, believe that such adversity and getting past it would be a major advantage for Alabama in 
future races.

“If you’re going to compete at the high levels, whether it’s in the Conference or at the NCAAs, a lot of what got you there is training and execution during practice, but you have have mental 
attitude that’s important to handle higher pressure situations,” Davis said.

“If we can learn to deal with adversity well, and we’ve seemed to be able to do that a couple times so far this spring, and still rise to the challenge, that holds the kinds of composure and confidence you need to race well in championship conditions. It’s something we are building on and the team is becoming more mature in that aspect.”

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports