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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Rowing team captains begin new era of leadership, teamwork in final year

Several+Wichita+State+students+and+Wichita+citizens+take+part+in+the+boating+events+put+on+by+the+Shocker+Rowing+team+at+their+Smores+and+Oars+event+on+Sept.+1.+
Cheyanne Tull
Several Wichita State students and Wichita citizens take part in the boating events put on by the Shocker Rowing team at their Smore’s and Oars event on Sept. 1.

Present on campus since the 70s, the rowing teams have largely flown under the radar of the university’s athletic spotlight. Wichita State women and men’s team captains Maureen Wetta and Tony Le implemented a number of changes to the team this year to bolster morale and bring the rowing team to the forefront of campus life. 

Neither Wetta nor Le had prior knowledge of rowing when they first heard of the team on campus. Wetta learned of the organization through an informational meeting, and Le heard about it in passing from a classmate in his calculus class. Now in their senior year, both are proud leaders of a team 60 members strong – one of the largest groups the team has seen, according to Wetta. 

“I honestly didn’t even know rowing was a sport,” Wetta said. “From then on, it’s just been a great experience with new crews coming in and just building that legacy and to now have the opportunity to lead as a team captain.”

Leading the rowing teams has allowed both captains to build their leadership skills while having fun.

“What kind of led me to that leadership role is … it puts me out of my comfort zone so much,” Le said. “And I think it’s just such an amazing opportunity for me to really step down and really reflect on how I want to present myself.”

When planning for the season over the summer, Wetta and Le decided to spread the opportunity they had been given after being voted captains by implementing a new leadership system.

Five other rowers stepped into leadership roles in August when the roles of event chair, gear chair and fundraising chair were established for both the men’s and women’s teams. The central goal behind this change was to alleviate the workload of the team coaches, Calvin Cupp and Rachel Tuck. 

“It gives us a lot of responsibility to feel a little bit more connected to the team and that we’re contributing a lot more than just, you know, showing up to practice and rowing every morning,” Wetta said.

Adding these new positions allows more rowers to practice communication and team coordination skills to implement in and out of the water. 

“Our students are able to build the skills that they are going to use later in life outside of rowing,” Le said.

Between early morning practices and competitions all over the nation, the rowing team makes sure to leave time for team bonding and recreation outside of the water. Wetta described another initiative taken to increase the team’s retention rate between the fall and spring and strengthen the team. 

“Our returning women started a big-little program with our novices,” Wetta said. “So all of our returning women got to pick one or two of the novice women to be their ‘little’ for the year, so if they have any questions or they want a study partner, that’s someone that they can look forward to so they don’t feel like they’re in the corner.” 

Another activity the teams do is a costume event where the different academic years dress up according to their chosen theme and race against each other. Family and friends of team members are invited to watch the race and learn the basics of some of the gear the team uses.

We’ve had Super Mario, we’ve seen Power Rangers and the colors of the rainbow,” Wetta said. “This year, our senior boat is really wanting to do the characters of Shrek.” 

The team’s next race will be this weekend, starting on Sept. date, in Oklahoma City. Later this season, the rowing team will also be taking varsity rowers to Florida and Tennessee for competition. 

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About the Contributors
Salsabila Attaria, Arts and Culture Editor
Salsabila Attaria is the arts and culture editor for The Sunflower. Attaria is a health science major.  She previously worked as a reporter and assistant news editor. She uses she/her pronouns.
Cheyanne Tull, Reporter
Cheyanne Tull is a first year reporter, photographer and illustrator for The Sunflower. Tull is double majoring in graphic design and journalism & media production. She hopes to work for outdoor publications in the future combining creativity, nature, and rock climbing. Tull uses she/her pronouns.

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