Optimistic Jumbos hope for strong start to spring season

The Jumbos practice on the Malden River in the fall. Courtesy Nicholas Pfosi Photography

The women’s crew team begins its season on April 4, on home turf, with a race against Hamilton, Mount Holyoke and Trinity at the Shoemaker Boathouse.

The No. 11 Jumbos enter their season full of optimism as they prepare to hit the water for the first time all year. 

“I’ve been rowing for Tufts for four years, and I’ve never been more optimistic about a spring season,” senior tri-captain Emma Peabody said.

The Jumbos last rowed competitively on Oct. 25, when they participated in the Head of the Fish Regatta hosted by Skidmore, where they finished second out of eight, their best finish of the fall season.

“At Head of the Fish, our two quads — four scullers in one boat — placed second and third, losing only to Div. I crew UMass Amherst,” Peabody said. “Second place was the open weight quad with [senior] Rachel Paterson at stroke, [senior] Laura Washburn at 3-seat, myself at 2-seat and [senior] Taylor Maykranz at bow. In the lightweight quad that placed third, [first-year] Emma Conroy was at stroke, [junior] Laura Hoffmann at 3-seat, [senior tri-captain] Maddie Morley at 2-seat and [junior] Emma Wells at bow.”

Further building the team’s confidence is the improvement of the first-year rowers.

“Helping this fall season’s success were the strong freshmen rowers who came in with ample experience, as well as the many returning rowers who have developed into proficient scullers,” Morley said. “It was clear everyone had put in the work over the summer and got much faster, which allowed us to focus on technical aspects and fixing the stroke, all while maintaining boat speed.”

The Jumbos made a point in the fall to focus a great deal on improving their technique, which translated to success, especially toward the end of the season. It is evident that they have made steady strides over the past few years and that they are going to be very competitive against some big-name teams as they try to make a splash among the New England rowing elite.

As their off-season approached, the rowers were prepared to work together in the varsity gym as well as individually on their own time. They logged their workouts in order to keep each other accountable and tracked their progress as the off-season progressed.

“This winter, more than any I have seen before, our women were really buying into the training program and taking advantage of the website,” senior tri-captain Emily Eickhoff said.

She noted that what helped them in particular was spending even more time on ergometers, which simulate real races without actually getting out onto the water.

There are technical aspects we can fix on an erg that translate to the boat, so even when we don’t have water time we are constantly improving and are ready for the boat,” Morley said.

Even though the Jumbos have not been able to spend much time on the water, which was often coated with ice and thus unnavigable whenever temperatures plummeted during this harsh winter, they are still prepared to compete because of the time the spent in Florida over spring break. While there, the team was able to practice three times each day, a grueling regimen in preparation for the race this weekend.

“I’m optimistic that, despite the short amount of time we’ve had to practice on the water, we have positioned ourselves to be competitive in the spring season,” Eickhoff said. “We should be confident in the training we put in over the winter and preseason.”

Eickhoff is not alone in her thinking. The Jumbos as a whole are abiding by a remarkably forward-looking philosophy, having relegated their not-too-distant fall season to the team archives.

“Aside from having trained harder than [in] most years, we have a lot of horsepower, a lot of technical skill and a lot of depth,” Peabody said. “Additionally, I feel that, more so than most years, all the women, including the inexperienced novice, are inspired about being a part of the program. They want — as much as anyone would — to be at 6 a.m. practice. They want to make their boats faster.”

Moreover, the Jumbos’ success is as much a product of their cohesiveness as of their indomitable work ethic. While the atmosphere remains collegial, however, things are beginning to heat up as teammates vie with one another for spots in the lineup. Yet, the captains all agree that this is salutary; they do not anticipate intra-team conflict, but rather an iron-sharpens-iron result.

“At team lifts, seniors partner up with freshman and other rowers …  Cohesiveness off the water is integral to [cohesiveness] in the boats,” Peabody said.

The Jumbos hope to capitalize on both their industrious spring break and their newfound motivation in order to reap the rewards of their offseason and preseason diligence.