The Gonzaga women’s rowing team heads right back down to an all too familiar place this coming Thursday.
The Zags will be in Chula Vista, California this week for their first regatta of the season. GU will go up against familiar conference foes Loyola Marymount and San Diego.
“Kind of full circle back to last year and getting to race some other conference schools that are highly ranked is exciting,” said Lauren McCallum a senior captain on the GU women’s rowing team.
Coronavirus has caused an uncertainty to loom over college athletics and especially the women’s rowing program. Prior to the week of March 1, 2021, GU was still without a schedule for their season.
“It has been hard over the past six to eight months to know if we will even have a season,” McCallum said. “The fact that me and the other six seniors get to have that opportunity too and take it all in knowing this is our last season is really amazing.”
McCallum is one of seven seniors on this year’s team and is excited about the group of girls that make up the rowing team this season.
“We are so young and have girls that have never raced a 2K on the water before, so getting in the boat and improving up until WCC’s (West Coast Conference) is what I am looking forward to,” McCallum said.
The GU women’s rowing team had a scrimmage last weekend in Seattle against Seattle University. This was the first time getting boats into the water this year, and some student-athletes' first time rowing on the water.
“It was nice finally getting back in the water and being able to not have to row on an erg machine,” said Grace Dojan, a sophomore and preseason All-WCC selection.
GU is led this season by three preseason All-WCC selections as well as two returning all-conference performers from two seasons ago. McCallum, as senior captain, is looking for her third all-conference selection in three years, while looking to be joined for the first time by Dojan. Senior Zoe Calambokidis rounds out the trio of rowers who were nominated for preseason All-WCC, as she looks to make her second first team all-conference.
Looking ahead at the schedule for this season, GU is projected to finish second in the conference. In the last season GU was on the water, they won their fifth-straight WCC Tournament and their 18th overall.
Although GU did not have a fall season this year, the team was able to take advantage of the weather and health restrictions in the Spokane area.
“I feel like we were very lucky to be able to row in the fall and have full team practices,” Dojan said. “I was talking to some of my other friends in the conference and they didn’t have the same opportunities as us due to restrictions that they have and other factors.”
Dojan and the Zags have been using the unknown factor of what other teams are doing as a motivating factor to make this season count.
“I think that not knowing what other teams are doing has been a driving force for us, as I’m sure it’s been for the other teams,” Dojan said.
“I hope we are rowing our best and everyone is at the top of their game by May 15 for WCC’s,” McCallum said.
Although the racing season just started for GU, the conference season will only run for two months, and will culminate with the WCC Tournament on May 15.
GU is in a prime position to capture their sixth-straight tournament championship and 19th overall.
Over the past few years GU’s women’s rowing program has grown exponentially in funding, training and success. This growth has been a driving factor in why McCallum thinks this team has been so successful.
“Our success as a program is definitely far from its potential and that is what I am most excited to see about after I graduate,” McCallum said.