Sunday, May 17, 2009

Teamwork and Fulfillment

It was a good day at the river yesterday - a very good day. The Moorestown Lightweight 8 won Stotesbury, the largest high school regatta in the world.

Crew is often used as the example of the ultimate team sport. Seeing Mollie these past three weeks as the team has come together and build a bond, a trust, and a common commitment has been truly inspiring.

John Lloyd and Rich Henderson put this crew together three weeks ago to try to get a team that would take a shot at placing well at Stotsebury. They only had three days of practice together before City's. Dustin Baxter's back was questionable after an incident in gym class. Their rhythm was off, but as they steamed toward the finish, edging out Lasalle and making time up on St. Augustine's and St. Joe's, you could see a deep passion in this crew. They were digging every stroke in support of each other. 3rd place at City's was an amazing showing and this team started to have a feeling that they could do some very good things.

After that race, Marlise and I were talking to the other parents. There was lots of praise flowing for our kids. The boys parents were telling us the boys thought Mollie was doing a great job. They cautiously approached the topic of Mollie providing motivation during the race, and we said "Yes, we know. When she drops the F-Bomb they gain two seats on that stroke." Turns out that this was the topic of conversation at every dinner table - quiet little Mollie who does not use language like that all of a sudden hitting them with it in the middle of a race was an inspirational weapon they would add to their bag of tricks.

The two weeks between City's and Stotesbury was a time to try to get in synch and find the 2.66 seconds that they had lost by to St. Joe's. The first week of practices were going well and the team was growing in confidence. However, as Dustin's back got better, Tyler Lukridge started having the same pain in his wrist that required surgery and held him out for an entire Sophomore season. But there was no way he was going to miss this and he decided to row thru it.

On Friday during the Head Race Trials, the team managed the second fastest time of the day - giving them a good lane for the Semi's on Saturday morning. Mollie had been worried about this first race. If they did well, she felt the team would really get together. If they did not place highly, she was concerned that Friday night's Prom might be more of a distraction. As the team came back to the tent after the race there was complete agreement "We're going to eat and then leave. We need to be ready for tomorrow!" You could see it in their eyes. They wanted this - badly.

Saturday morning's Semi matched them up against St. Augustine's, with St. Joe's in the other heat. It was looking like even with the other 200 schools there it was going to come down to the 4 boats from City's - St. Joes, St. Augustine, Moorestown and LaSalle. In this semi St. Augustine beat Moorestown by a boat length. Was this part of the plan? Did the prom perhaps take something out of them? As they pulled the boat out of the water and walked it up, this team looked a little too relaxed and calm. They had developed a style of remaining calm and saving their energy for just the right time. It seemed they felt they were right on plan.

The final came down to St. Joe's in Lane 3, St. Augustine in Lane 4 and Moorestown in Lane 2. Sitting down at the finishing stands we had recruited the Woodbridge, VA team to cheer for Moorestown. When the announcer said Moorestown was in the lead at the 400 meter mark (1500 meter race), there was a buzz in the crowd. St. Joe's has won this event 10 of the past 12 years and had not been beaten this year. Could the underdog really play in their league?

As they hit the island, you could see it was neck and neck between the two boats, with St. Joe's holding an ever so slight lead. The team had built up calmly, with increasing intensity over the past two weeks. Mollie had taken the Tie-dyed T-Shirt off from the morning race and for the first time in her career had the black uni on - same as the boys. She had developed a knack for timing their sprint and the team had developed a knack for knowing how to pull hard to the finish.

As the two boats passed the stands, the roar was deafening. Our Woodbridge friends led an awesome chant of Moores-Town, and many in the stands joined them. Both boats were clearly all-out. Each boy pulling with everything they had - making sure they helped their team get to the line first.

They crossed and no one in the crowd knew who had won. It took several minutes and then word leaked out fast. I first heard them call the order for the boats to pull up to the dock (3rd, 2nd and then 1st). They called Lanes 4, 3, 2. Lane 2 - Moorestown! Just then, John Lloyd got confirmation that the team had won.

In the days before photo-finishes, they would have called this one a tie. But there was indeed separation - and Moorestown had won by .04 seconds. About 10 centimeters in a 1500 meter race.

On this day, this group of lightweights had pulled together as a team to accomplish the unimaginable. Winning the Stotesbury. Jimmy Currell, Dustin Baxter, Nik Tranchik, Jason Farber, Tyler Lukridge, Max Tennenbaum, Scott Shelley, Rohil Shah and of course Mollie.

On our ride down to Maryland, Mollie said "This is the happiest day of my life." Nothing quite like working and winning with a team...

More Photos
Video of Finals

1 comment:

marmoo said...

Awesome write up Mr. Bickel!