Trojans Battle the Bears during "Weekender"- written by Captain Ryan Hasvold

USC v CalLast weekend, the USC Men’s Crew had the incredible opportunity to practice with the Cal Bears rowing team in the Oakland Estuary. The purpose of the trip was to gain exposure to a national-caliber team in their home environment and to get a feel for the steps we need to take with our own program. This was the first step in what we hope will become a mutually beneficial relationship that will allow both programs to continue traditions of success. We organized the trip to coincide with the USC vs. Cal football game, commonly referred to as “The Weekender.” USC students, alumni, and supporters flooded San Francisco, turning Union Square into a sea of cardinal and gold on Friday night. We, as a team, carried that pride and enthusiasm with us the next morning as we entered the Cal boathouse in full race attire. Mike Teti, former gold-medal Olympic coach and current Cal coach, welcomed us and sent our Varsity and JV boats out on the water to join their 5 full eights. It was extremely eye-opening to compare Cal’s multi-million dollar boathouse, erg room, locker room, and training facility with “The Dirt”—our patch of dirt next to the USC Women’s boathouse.

The practice was split into three 15-minute pieces. For the first piece, all 7 boats lined up in the Estuary and took off at a controlled stroke rate. The Varsity 8 started extremely well, keeping contact with one Cal boat for nearly the entire distance. Following the first piece, Cal’s 1st and 2nd Varsity boats split off with our Varsity boat, while the remaining boats turned back to practice sprint pieces. The JV boat held its own during these 30-stroke bursts, finding great rhythm and power. The Varsity boat did extremely well in its two remaining 15-minute pieces, closely matching the speed of Cal’s top boats.

Everyone came off the water exhausted but extremely pleased with the practice. As a team, we reflected on the similarities and differences we saw between our program and Cal’s. Everyone was energized and enthusiastic to make certain improvements like installing pull-up and free weight bars at the port. Most importantly, we recognized that we are on a path to success, especially if we continue to push for constant improvement. In order to return Cal’s outstanding hospitality over the weekend, we have invited them to come down and row at The Dirt in San Pedro next year. The most valuable part of the trip was the collective realization of what we need to do to win.   As the Captain, I am extremely pleased with the entire weekend. We fought hard on the water, carried ourselves with composure, and dedicated ourselves to improvement.

Collin Evans @ Cal BoathouseUSC @ Cal

More photos can be seen at Thanks to the Oliver’s for putting this together!

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