‘Weigh ‘nuff!’

By Rachel Adler

The Mac Weekly sat down with Macalester Women’s Crew team members Katherine Stearns ’12 (Oakland, CA), Catherine Anderson-Flint ’12 (Palo Alto, CA), and Jackie Hoong ’12 (Fairmont, MN) to discuss coxing, sculling, and catching crabs. Pictured, but not available for interview by press time are Jane Bonsall ’12 and Emily Johnson ’12. How long have you been rowing at Macalester? Catherine Anderson-Flint: I’m probably the newest rower. I started by sophomore year and have only rowed fall seasons because I play Water Polo in the spring. Katherine Stearns: Jackie and I went to our first day of practice together our freshman year. We remember the story differently. I remember that Jackie asked me to go because she didn’t want to go alone, but Jackie remembers that we both wanted to go. Did you know each other beforehand? KS: We were both part of Bonner and lived on Doty 5 together. Emily [Johnson] joined crew with us freshman year too and will row again next year when she’s a super senior. Jane [Bonsall], who’s also from California, joined the team freshman year, and she’s been rowing since high school. What drew you to rowing at Macalester? Jackie Hoong: The people. It’s just so much fun. People are really nice, and you get to spend time on the river away from Macalester. Do you row on the Mississippi? JH: Yeah, it’s beautiful in the fall and lovely in the spring. KS: Our boathouse is right under the Lake Street Bridge. CA-F: I think college is the time to try things you didn’t have an opportunity to do in high school. High school crew teams are often very competitive and have early morning practices. I joined because it was something new to try. Would you say that you are drawn to the water? All: Yeah. JH: I can’t swim though. KS: But she has a motion for swimming, which is this (flails arms). JH: Well that’s what happens! CA-F: If you assume your head’s under water. What are some other favorite crew memories? KS: There’s a tradition in rowing that when a team wins they’ll throw the coxswain into the water. I didn’t know this tradition, and freshman year I got injured during winter break and couldn’t actually row, so my coach thought it was the perfect time to make me cox. I started coxing for the men’s varsity team. One day we won three races and we were so excited. So at the end this other girl who had been coxing comes up to me, and out of the corner of my eye I see the boys plotting something. Suddenly she yelled, ‘Run!’ We started booking it in the other direction, but they caught us and threw us in, which was fine because it was in St. Cloud where the Mississippi is a lot clearer. CA-F: I would say any time a bald eagle shows up. KS: Oh, that’s my favorite too! CA-F: One time we were in a tubby double, which is a boat you can’t flip, learning how to scull, and I saw eagles flying around, so I made Katherine row to shore to watch a bald eagle eat a fish. KS: In fairness, our coach will tell us to stop to look at birds. JH: One time Emily and I were rowing a double at Rockford against the University of Wisconsin – Madison team, which is one of the best Division I teams. The only team we beat in the race of 50 boats was the one that flipped. Can you decipher some of the crew lingo you’ve been using? KS: Well a lot of the crew words are boat words, so port and starboard, and bow and stern are places on the boat. When we say coxswain, that’s like the person in Ben Hur with the hammers who yells commands. CA-F: Weigh ‘nuff means stop rowing. KS: Sweep rowing is where everyone has one oar and rows on one side, versus sculling, which is with two oars on both sides. There’s also a lot of innuendo in crew. For example, the handle of the oar is called the shaft. JH: Slide your hand down the shaft. CA-F: And then stroke. KS: The person who’s leading the boat is called the stroke. JH: He’s stroking the boat. Also, people don’t understand that when you put your oar in the water, you should place it just below the water and go just beyond it, but people will go all the way in and jam it down, so sometimes I’ll say, ‘Just dip and pull.’ How’s the season been? CA-F: We have a lot of good freshmen. Last semester I was in a boat that got 2nd, and a boat that got 3rd or 4th in a couple races. KS: I think that a lot of our female rowers are stronger than our male rowers. I’d put Catherine against a lot of our rowers any day. JH: Any day of the week. Almost all of them. KS: But Catherine’s a beast. JH: A crazy beast. CF: That doesn’t need to go in there (laughs). So how’s it been without Emily this semester? KS: So sad. JH: She’s my pair! I’m sad. She’s the most positive person ever. And just really happy and a great rower and a great person. I miss her. KS: Emily’s a very solid, positive member to have on the team. We were on our way to regatta and Emily was like, ‘I need a Creamsicle!’ So we stopped at a rest stop, she got a Creamsicle, she ate it, and was just on a total sugar high in the back of the van because it was all she had eaten all day. And then she get really excited and told us about toilet tag, which is some form of tag, which she pronounces toilet taaag because she’s from Wisconsin. I was driving, and about to run off the road because she was like ‘Guys! We have to play toilet tag! When you get taaaged, you have to sit down like you’re on a toilet! And after being taaaged someone has to flush you!’ Do you guys have any plans for next year? CA-F: Well I’m going to graduate. (Laughs) JH: Me too! KS: Me too! CA-F: And I’m going to live…in a house. And occupy my time with important activities. And eat good food. And exercise regularly. I’m looking at a bunch of different programs. A lot of 2-year teaching fellowships and Americorps programs are really appealing to me because it’s a 2-year time commitment, so it’s a chance to try living somewhere else, or stay living in the Twin Cities a little bit longer. That’s what I’m thinking. Maybe I’ll go back to the Bay Area, maybe I’ll stay here. JH: I have a position in Madison. Doing what? JH: Yelling at people! What I’m good at! No, I have a project management role with a healthcare software company, so I’ll be going out to different hospitals, helping them implement software. KS: I’m definitely staying in the Twin Cities for the summer. And I didn’t go the crazy thing and apply to grad school like everybody else did. So I’m basically staying for the summer and choosing between a couple options. I worked for a park district in California for a while, doing cultural resource management. So I might go into that because I have experience. I’d like to work for a park district again doing planning or land management of some kind. I’m also looking into grad schools, like a year out, or option C, I’ll open a feminist bakery. I baked when I took time off and I have work experience in kitchens, so that’s always an option. How would you sum up your Macalester crew experience in a haiku? The Mississippi Caught a crab, we still live you Weigh ‘nuff! Bald eagle. JH: We should probably explain that catching crabs means that your oar gets stuck in the water and then comes up and hits you so hard that it can take you out of the boat. Any last words? CA-F: Last season was really fun because we had the five women seniors. I’ve never been on a team like that before that had a core group of senior friends. To me, that’s what a team should be, that’s what s sport should be, and I felt very fortunate to be a part of that.