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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

Shocker Rowing embraces their past, present, future

Monique Bever
Economics and international business ,ajor Gonzalo Campos uses an ergometer machine at rowing team practice in the Heskett Center gymnasium. The Wichita State rowing team practices on ergometer machines on Tuesdays and Thursdays and does strength and conditioning for the rest of the week in preparation for their spring season.

Since he was brought on as head rowing coach in 1999, Calvin Cupp has always been thinking about the future.

Now, with assistant coach Rachel Tuck, the Shocker Rowing teams are constantly looking for new waters to tread, both inside and outside the boat.

“(The university) understands the value of being in the community and making that impact,” Cupp said. “What we are asking ourselves (is) what can we do that nobody else is?”

Since 2018, the rowing team has been downtown in the River Vista complex at its boathouse and has partnered with the City of Wichita at events like Riverfest and Clean Streams. Tuck said that one of the focuses for the program in this area is questioning how to “activate, revitalize and contribute to the downtown river corridor.”

“Being able to put Wichita State in a very prominent place in the downtown corridor where people are, the traffic is huge down there,” Cupp said. “It’s the hub of all the activity.”

The team also looks for mentoring and student employment opportunities through Boats and Bikes, an equipment rental company that partners with Shocker Rowing, during the summer.

Shocker Rowing often employs its rowers and other students over the summer at Boats and Bikes. Leah Shipman, a third-year rower, said the experience was positive overall.

“That’s been really fun because I get to learn more about the boathouse and rowing and boats in general,” Shipman said.

With all of its outside ventures, Cupp said that he looks at the program as “a big wheel” where all its spokes “connect to the center,” the competitive rowing teams and the student-athletes on them. 

“We ask ourselves (when considering new opportunities), if we’re going to do this, does it tie back into what our core mission is,” Cupp said. “How are we providing a quality experience for our student-athlete? How are we promoting, in a positive way, our university? How are we contributing to our community? Are we an economic driver?”

Forty-members strong going into the spring season, the teams are currently practicing indoors at the Heskett Center while building their fitness and waiting for the weather to warm up.

Tuck said that it is easier for the team to build their stamina while indoors on ergometers because they can get more meters in.

“You can get really good fitness on the water, but we have to turn (the boat) around,” Tuck said. “So that takes away part of practice, also getting equipment on and off, that takes more time.”

Andrew Bobbitt, a senior political science and criminal justice major, has been rowing for a little over a year and said that the difference between being in the water and on the ergometer is more technical.

“On the water, it’s a lot more skill and technical work,” Bobbitt said. “You have elements to contend with and there’s a lot more feedback so if you take a bad stroke on the water, you’re gonna feel it versus the erg(ometer).”

For Sydney Bradford, a rower-turned-coxswain, her role remains largely the same whether the team is indoors or outdoors. A coxswain, in Bradford’s words, is there “to encourage the rowers and to steer the boat.”

“It’s nice because I was a rower, and so I know how the other rowers feel, but it’s just a lot different going from something so physical to just talking basically to them,” Bradford said.

The team just closed its walk-on period and brought on two additional rowers. Jaeza Robertson, a junior industrial engineering major, recently finished her second week with the team. Robertson said that on her tour of Wichita State, her tour guide was a rower and encouraged her to join the team, but she was skeptical.

“I said ‘I don’t want to do it,’” Robertson said. “But all these years later, I’m like, well, I want to be a part of a team. I miss pushing myself athletically, and I’ve always known I’m an athlete. This is a really fun way to express that.”

The team will open its spring season with Shocker Sprints on Feb. 17, an indoor rowing event the team hosts every spring, not only for other rowing teams but for all students at Wichita State.

“The best thing I can tell people (about rowing) is don’t be afraid,” Bobbitt said. “They will teach you the skills you need to know to row. So, if you’re willing to put in the time and work, you’ll be successful at it.”

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About the Contributors
Trinity Ramm, Managing Editor
Trinity Ramm is the managing editor and former sports editor for The Sunflower. This is her second year on staff. Ramm is a senior English Lit major and a sociology minor with a certificate in film studies. In her limited spare time, she can be found at the movie theater, browsing some obscure film database or crocheting. Ramm uses she/her pronouns.
Monique Bever, Reporter
Monique Bever is a first-year reporter and photographer. She is a freshman majoring in philosophy. Monique has lived in Wichita for most of her life. She loves film, fashion, and her cat.

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