UCF Rowing Looks to Make a Statement at Inaugural Conference Championships

Feb. 18, 2010

By Brittany Dixon

ORLANDO, Fla - The UCF women's rowing team is ready to start the 2010 season with new changes. The veterans and the newcomers will take on teams they have never competed against with a chance to compete win a conference championship.

Conference USA will sponsor women's rowing as a sport beginning this year, which means the Knights will compete in their first Conference USA Championship in May. This year, the results of the championship will be determined by the final results of the South/Central Regional Rowing Championships, but the league will conduct its own regatta beginning in 2011.

The Knights are coming off a winning season in 2009, where they swept Duke at the inaugural home regatta at the UCF Intercollegiate Rowing Center last year and defeated teams such as Iowa, Kansas State and Texas. Becky Cramer will return as head coach of the Black and Gold for her second season.

"We are a smaller team this season but that means that each person is that much more important and rowers have risen to that challenge," Cramer said. "As a team, we are pushing each other and holding each member accountable and it is raising the bar for everyone. We have a strong and talented group and everyone has an opportunity to make an impact."

Cramer led her squad to 26 victories during the 2009 season and led the team to a third-place finishing in the South Region and 10th place honors overall at the South/Central Rowing Championships. Cramer also had two student-athletes, Chelsey Lauzon and Elizabeth Robinson, named to CRCA All-Region Teams. Lauzon, Christina Bechtold and Samantha Sarff were also invited to women's national team camps.

In all, 14 women earned Conference USA Commissioner's Academic Medals with GPAs of 3.75 and higher and 56 were placed on the C-USA Commissioner's honor roll with 3.0 GPAs and higher during Cramer's first season.

A new assistant coach, Joel Furtek, has been added to the staff as the novice coach. Furtek comes with a wealth of experience, as the head rowing coach for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the head novice coach at the University of Virginia. He also served as a rigger/boatman for the University of Miami in 2009, taking charge in the middle of the season when the head coach resigned.

"He has brought a lot of energy and excitement. He is very knowledge based with a lot of experience, which has helped the coaching dynamic," Cramer said of Coach Furtek. Susan Cohen, who served as the novice coach for the 2009 season, is now the recruiting coordinator and varsity assistant for the Knights. The novice squad placed first overall in the season-opening Metro Cup in 2009 and third overall at the South Central Regional Championships.

The 2010 schedule is tough for the Knights, as they will race against nationally ranked teams, No. 17 Iowa and No. 18 Louisville, as well as Miami and will host Alabama.

"The tools to success in my opinion are incorporating the excitement, the fire and the drive. I want the team to not only be excited about racing, but also be excited about preparing to race," Cramer said.

The Knights will continue to practice in the intercollegiate rowing complex, which opened in the spring of 2009. The facility consists of a traditional boathouse and team clubhouse with space for erg training and a locker room. The training has not been much different from previous seasons, focusing on communication and teamwork. Cramer and her staff have prepared the squad for the competition by practicing more in small boats and for longer distances.

"The dynamic of the team has changed a little. The freshman from last year were integrated into the group so for the varsity there is not a huge transition. Everyone is on the same page," Cramer said. "I expect them to build upon last year's success because I think they have learned a lot."

UCF will begin its journey to the C-USA Championships with the novice heading to the Metro Cup at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla. on March 6.

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures