It has been a great start to our new beginning this 2013-2014 season edition of the Bulldogs. With 9 new players on our roster and a very motivated, solid core group of leaders and returners, we have high expectations of ourselves for this quickly approaching season.
August 17 was our arrival day and the start to a busy and fun schedule, which we jumped into right away. For our opening meeting all the players gathered at Stauber’s cabin on Island Lake right outside of Duluth. It was a perfect place to break the ice by playing yard games, jumping in the lake, and having a good BBQ meal ending with a little time around the campfire!
Following our time at Stauber’s cabin, we wasted no time getting to work. Along with the 9 new faces on the roster, we also got a new strength and conditioning coach Julianne Vasechek who we call “Montana.” This change happened shortly before we all arrived to Duluth so nobody knew what to expect in terms of what we had to do during the first few weeks or what her approach was to our workouts. We were soon to find out. Workouts went great and we did things some of us had never done before including a higher intensity beep test, but shorter in time. On top of our workouts, which were spread out through the week, we also had dragon boat training and captains practices, lead by our Captain Jamie Kenyon with Emma Stauber and myself in support as Assistant Captains.
Dragon Boat Races take place just across the bridge in Superior, WI and for the last four years our team has entered into the races as a team building activity. These Dragon Boats hold 22 paddlers and weigh about 800lbs just on their own. It takes a lot of teamwork and timing with pulling our weight in order to be the most effective in the water. We practice for the entire week prior to the races and we can usually get the gist of it by the Saturday for race day! This year we had a strong group who were fast learners, and as an all-women’s boat, we took the Women’s Division title for the first time and we were pushed out of the gold medal round for the overall title by just one boat, finishing with the 6th best time of the day. Dragon Boating teaches so much not only on the water but also about each other and setting the tone for what it means to be a team and how working together makes us stronger as a whole.
Our weeks following that first crazy week involved getting all the new girls set up and getting all organized for classes starting on September 3rd. With the start of classes we then had to now juggle captains practices and workouts before and after classes, including 6am preseason workouts, which I can tell you…have been no joke!! We traded off going from sandbag workouts on the beach at Park Point, to Stairs and interval training at Chester Bowl (a small ski hill and ski jump area). These workouts were more than just searching for that physical edge, but also giving us the mental toughness to work through adversities that push our comfort zone. Battling through these workouts brought us closer together and really tested our character and work ethic to see what we were made of.
We finally had our first practice on Saturday, September 21st, and we were very eager to finally get the season going with only a week before our first game. The night before, on Friday, September 20th, Maria Rooth (1999-2003), All-time UMD leader in goals (119) and 4-time Olympian, was recognized as the first Women’s Hockey Player to be inducted into the UMD Hall of Fame, for her outstanding representation and impact she has had on our program and at UMD. Following the ceremony we joined as a team to support her when she was announced during half time at our UMD football game that night. In addition to her illustrious playing career at UMD and with the Swedish National team (265 overall games), she joined the UMD coaching staff during the 2010-2011 season, having the opportunity to coach, our two current seniors (Kenyon and Gillanders).
We have been through a lot as a team, and it is only the beginning. This year has already been a world of a difference in our preparation and dedication! The new comers have been following our leaders and returners with the utmost enthusiasm and precision, with us all moving in the direction of the high expectations we have placed on ourselves. We can’t wait to hit the ground running and be ready to face our first opponent, Team Japan, on September 28th here at Amsoil Arena!!!