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Hard work, dedication pay off for ASU rowing team

ASU rowing is one of the biggest club teams on campus. Take a deeper look.
What were you doing at 5 a.m. today? ASU's rowing team probably has you beat.
November 9, 2017

The 15-year-old competitive club has seen growth, recognition in recent years

Under the cover of darkness, they appear in groups of four and eight. Light from the moon and neighboring office buildings illuminate their path, providing a tranquil backdrop as the sound of water being pushed away fills the air. 

It's 5 a.m. on Tempe Town Lake, and while the majority of students may still be hours away from starting their day, practice is underway for Arizona State University's rowing teams.

"You have to experience it firsthand to fully understand it," said senior Matthew Boysen, the men's team's vice president. "Getting up that early can be miserable sometimes, but you start to develop a close relationship with everyone on the team. It's one of those things that is forged through fire."

That fire is forged through 4 a.m. alarms and six-day-a-week practices for the men's and women's sides, which have operated as a competitive club at the university since 2002. The 15-year history in Tempe is but a blip on the radar for a sport that was developed back in the 1700s, but that doesn't mean the Sun Devils aren't making big strides.

After holding a roster of just nine rowers a few years ago, more than 30 students across four rosters — men's varsity and novice, and women's varsity and novice — are now on the team. And under the guidance of second-year head coach Imran Malik, the club is starting to see the results they've been working so hard for. 

"I like what I'm seeing so far," Malik said ahead of the team's first collegiate competition of the year. "We had a great spring season and got the attention of some good clubs like Stanford and Washington. Technique-wise, the novices are picking it up really well and the varsity continues to get faster and faster." 

Collegiate club rowing typically features about nine competitions each year, split into a fall and spring season. Most of these competitions are called regattas, which are a series of races, held on either Saturday or Sunday, against multiple schools. 

To save money, ASU typically travels by bus to every regatta except the one or two that are held north of California. The preparation process includes showing up to town a day early, getting a light practice in on the water and eating a lot of healthy food prior to the race. After competing, the team usually takes two or three days off practice to recover and participate in team-building activities. 

"Rowing is unique because it's one of the biggest team sports there is," said senior Kelsey Cring. "You need that special bond with your teammates to know they have your back and are going to go as hard as they can."

That bond is something preached time and again by each member of the team. And with pre-dawn practices and a young club looking to continually earn respect, it's easy to see why. 

The Sun Devils are the only active collegiate team in the state, which "puts some pressure on us, but when we live up to that it feels great," Boysen said.

The club is hosting a regatta in Tempe this spring for the first time, against other Pac-12 schools. The date is still to be determined, but the idea for the Saguaro Sprints was first hatched in concert with Stanford's head coach. With many of their opponents having to row on cold or nearly frozen water throughout the first weeks of the year, the warm-weather race figures to be a popular one. 

Slowly but surely, the team is earning the respect it has been working so hard toward in the recent years. A dedicated group of rowers and an ambitious leadership staff can be thanked for that. 

"We're working towards building the momentum we found last season," men's president Nick Pederson said. "My goal when taking office was to advance the club both in both performance and sustainability. I'm trying to portray myself as someone who can handle any situation." 

While Pederson and Boysen handle the leadership roles on the men's side, junior Michaela Matulewic and sophomore Kelsey Liss serve as the president and vice president, respectively, for the women's team. Their jobs include attending meetings with other club sport captains, lobbying for funding and planning regattas that both Sun Devil teams can travel to together. 

It's a busy and often thankless job, but one that is definitely worth it. 

"I love them so much," said Matulewic while holding back tears. "They are all like family to me." 

Sometimes, you do get to pick your family. Even if it means being awake at five in the morning. 

Update: ASU rowing competed in its first collegiate regatta of the season on Nov. 12 in San Diego. The team fared well in the Fall Classic, placing first in the Women's Novice 4+ and second in the Men's Novice 4+ races. A full list of regatta results can be seen here, and you can also find the club on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Top photo: The men's varsity team rows under the Mill Avenue Bridge that crosses Tempe Town Lake. The ASU club is self-funded and is also the only collegiate team in Arizona. Photo by Anya Magnuson/ASU Now

Connor Pelton

Communications Writer, ASU Now

At Bonn climate meetings, US continues in a more limited role


November 9, 2017

The U.N. meeting on climate change in Bonn, Germany Nov. 6–17, or COP23, is expected to draw nearly 20,000 people as nations begin discussions of implementing the Paris climate accord. It is the first meeting since President Donald Trump decided to pull the U.S. out of the agreement and it is an important meeting for working out some of the details, like measuring the carbon emissions of nations and figuring out how to pay for these efforts. Already, Syria has decided to join the climate change effort, leaving the U.S. as the only nation not in agreement.  

“We are still part of the Paris agreement,” said Sonja Klinsky, an assistant professor in ASU’s School of Sustainability and a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie A. Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. Given the U.S. situation, ASU Now asked Klinsky — who has participated in these meeting in the past — what to expect from COP23, including what role the U.S. could play. Download Full Image

Question: In general, what will happen at COP23?

Answer: This meeting is the second since the Paris Agreement was negotiated. The Paris Agreement provided a framework, but many of the implementation details were left to be negotiated. This two-week negotiation period will continue to iron out these details. For example, some activities will involve setting up rules for how emissions will be measured and possibly traded for those countries that are hoping to create a system that will allow this.

Q: Is this a critical point for the accord, and how it is shaped?

A: We are not at the very beginning, but still have a lot of the structure to fill in. This year and the next several years will continue to be very important. Right now they are trying to build the basic institutions and arrangements that will continue to shape how countries work together for a good long while, probably the next few decades at least. Like any other process, decisions you make early on can have long-term implications.

Q: When is the earliest the U.S. can conceivably pull out of the accord?

A: If the United States wants to pull out of the accord, it will have to file this in writing in November 2019. The process of withdrawing would then take one year from this date, so the earliest the U.S. would be out of the deal would be sometime in late November 2020.

Q: What role can the U.S. play in the Bonn meeting and how effective can we be in shaping the future of the agreement?

A: As a member of the agreement, the United States could play a number of roles. It could continue to work cooperatively with other countries to try to create a set of institutions that will work for everyone for the next few decades as it has done previously. Alternately, it could decide not to cooperate and impede the actions of other countries. We will have to see how this transpires. 

These are diplomatic processes, and other countries will be fully aware of the Trump administration’s position on climate change and other global issues. Global cooperation depends on goodwill, trust and mutual compromise. Other countries’ perceptions of the willingness of the U.S. to be a cooperative global actor generally may change how effective it is at promoting its own interests. It is a distinct possibility that the U.S. will have less influence in this arena than it had previously; however it is too early to say whether or not this has happened.

Q: Can local or state governments join in? What about companies?

A: Local and state action on climate change is very important, as is action by companies. While the current rules stop them from becoming full members of the Paris Agreement, there is a parallel process where they can participate by declaring what kinds of actions they are taking, connect with others and share best practices, and generally demonstrate their commitment to innovative solutions. 

Q: Is ASU present at the negotiations?

A: ASU has a delegation attending the negotiations. Several School of Sustainability graduate students will be conducting research while they are there. Another student is educating elementary school students about the international process by Skyping into their classrooms from the negotiations. And we have staff and students presenting research about climate solutions at events occurring in parallel with the negotiations.

Associate Director, Media Relations & Strategic Communications

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