MINNEAPOLIS — University of Minnesota rowing coach Alicia Strodel has had a heck of a first year on the job. Treading water, as she waits for the team to get a season in.
“I know it’s been the biggest intro, the longest intro ever,” she said.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rowing team lost their entire season last spring. And when they race for the first time next week, it will have been an entire year without competition, which, in the beginning, was a tough thing for the students to try and stay focused through.
“You had that first three months and you didn’t really know what fall was gonna look like,” said Gabby Mullally, a junior on the team. “May is BIG Ten’s for us and not having that knowing that it’s a full year for that to come around again. And that’s probably the longest any of us haven’t seen our friends at school.”
Now they get to see what that hard work can get them. They’ll begin their six– competition schedule this weekend in Tennessee. A long payoff to wait for.
“Yes, we’ve been counting down,” said Strobel. “And I think the closer it has gotten, the more excitement there is that it’s actually happening.”
While COVID was tough on most teams, the Gophers rowing team already has seven members of their team vaccinated, due to jobs in the medical field. That includes Mullally, who, in addition to being a student-athlete and captain, is also a research and quality improvement intern for the emergency department at HCMC.
“All of us were really grateful for the opportunity. Obviously it’s still rolling out nationally and not everyone is vaccinated yet, so we are really grateful,” said Mullally. “We all talked about how that doesn’t change how we’re handling our guidelines within our team because all of the other girls on our team that haven’t been vaccinated. So, it’s important to hold yourself to those same expectations.”
So much to be grateful for, even if it took a long time to get here. And finally, these Gophers can truly Row the Boat together again.