June 1, 2008
Bob Ernst, Head Coach
"It's a feeling of satisfaction. I took over the women's crew and let Michael (Callahan) have the guys because I wanted to get this job done. So, we're on our way. I told the kids the day that we got selected that we were coming here to compete and not just to participate. That's when all the jobs were open again. They competed really hard to get their jobs back or to get a new job. We just put the players where they belong and they took care of the rest. They didn't do anything differently than they've been doing all year long. It's just that we got a few more things sorted out. If it takes until the last day, and then they do good, it's okay.
"It's a matter of getting your best performance out on the right day. We almost didn't get invited, I suppose. Clearly we belong here. I thought the selection committee did a nice job. Women's rowing is really a lot more of a team deal, you can tell it by the way they count the points and all that. I'd never been to one of these NCAA Championships before, but I knew that it was a team deal. So, our goal at the beginning of the year was to teach everybody how to row up to this level. I've never worked harder in one year of coaching in my life. They didn't give up on me and I certainly didn't give up on them.
"That's mainly Colin's (Sykes) responsibility, the fours. His job is to create a four that can row on this level and produce players that can move up to the jayvee if we need them to. He's done that for like eight years in a row for me and I couldn't ask for a better assistant.
"The thing that we've talked about since the first meeting in September is that this has to be a team. It takes 20 rowers and three coxswains to do well here. This is what we've been aiming for all year. If you'd have asked me in September if we were going to do this well, I would say, `Well I'd be surprised.'" But, now we know what it takes and hopefully they'll rise to the occasion and we'll win this thing pretty soon."
On the varsity eight:
"I knew it was going to be really tough and a really competitive field. Certainly, Stanford didn't have anything to lose and they just threw down the best one they could come up with.
"My guess is our kids probably paid a big price for qualifying in that semifinal yesterday, with three crews under a second. Hey, we got there. That was the payday probably yesterday. They would have liked to have done better today, but guess what, it's all about team here."
Maggie Cheek, Varsity Four coxswain
"When I came up here, I was aware that Washington had the tradition. On the women's side, we had kind of come down and weren't doing as well. My class, I'm a sophomore, we all talked our freshman year that we wanted to be a part of the class that brought the team back up. I won the Pac-10s last year in the four. I look at this as just another step in building the program back up. I'm so excited.
"It hasn't hit me that we won the national championship. Sometimes when we finish a race, everyone is so excited. Today, everyone was just exhausted and one girl was throwing up. We just all can't believe that we're here. Especially since I just got in this boat, I'm just so proud of them and so glad that I was able to bring them together. It will probably hit when I get a medal around me neck.
"I'd never been more excited for a race since high school. These girls were so incredibly nervous before the race. The warm-up was a little bit tense, but then when we locked into our lane everyone kind of relaxed. The first 10 strokes, we were on the bow ball of all the boats. We were up by a length for the first 1,000, then the next 500 Virginia started to make their move. We just stayed calm. We knew they were going to make that move in the third 500. When UVA started to make that move we had to stay calm. That's what we did. We just stabilized them. They got even, they got one seat up, they got two seats up. I just sat on their three seat and kept reminding the girls that this is where we wanted to be. This boat has always had trouble bringing the sprint out. It came down to the last 500 and I said it would come down to the sprint for the national title. I said `get ready to go' and we took a five to build. The boat just lifted up out of the water and we just went. We got even in about five strokes and then we shifted up to the next gear, which is our max gear. I told them we were up a seat and they just wanted more and more. We were at 38 strokes-per-minute. We've never had a really good sprint, but this was the best sprint and we did it when it counted.
On being moved into the varsity four crew within the last week:
"You have to accept the situation that you are in. It's difficult to have changes so close to a national championship, but you have to trust your coach. Bob (Ernst) made the best choice for the team. The four got us here to NCAAs. I just looked at it that he put me in the four for the best of the team and that was my focus, the four."
Rachel Powers, Varsity Four stroke
"It's just awesome. I don't know if it's actually hit me yet. I was pretty exhausted coming off the water.
"We were all pretty nervous going into it. We had been undefeated so far and we didn't want to break that streak. We all knew that this was the big time. We really had to pull through and do something spectacular. We knew that we would probably be up for the first part of the race. Then when Virginia started walking up on us, we all kind of knew that that was the point where we needed to show our stuff and prove to everyone that we can move in the second 1,000. We're not the just the first "K" of the race kind of girls. We just put our money where our mouth is and just pushed through.
"We were ready to have to fight back against another crew. Even though it's nerve wracking to have that actually happen in the race, we were prepared enough that we could face that with the right attitude and come back. We had the best sprint that we've had all year, so that was exciting. It just felt really good to cross that finish line first.
Lis Prins, Second Varsity Eight bow seat
"We just love racing. I just wanted it to be as close as possible and that's what we did. We rowed as hard as we could. I didn't care about the results as much as I cared about us going as hard as we possibly could.
"We learned a lot from what we did wrong at Pac-10 and we were never going to let that happen to us again. We just came back with a vengeance and it helped us a lot, what we learned."
Samantha Smith, Second Varsity Eight No. 3 seat
"I'm feeling pretty good, very excited. It's just a learning experience. Going into Pac-10s we had never been down. We never had to fight back. We let ourselves get nervous and scramble. We were able to learn from that and we brought it back this weekend. We knew how to stay relaxed and we knew how to stay long and we did it. We improved after every single race, which made a world of difference.
"I was pretty sure we weren't going. I never would have thought after Pac-10s that this was going to happen, so it makes it twice as good.
"At the end of the day, we all like each other. It gets stressful and it gets rough, but we're all in it to do the best we can no matter where we are. And we did."
Alison Browning, Varsity Eight No. 3 Seat
"Going into it I was nervous and everyone was pretty pumped up about what was to come. Going off we had a really good start, nice and strong. We have a pretty quick start. We kept right up with them. We were up on a few boats and we kept moving. Definitely this was a piece where we moved the entire race. You never felt the let up of anyone. It was really awesome because we kept pushing through and every move was responsive. We just kept pushing through to that last 500 meters and went all out. We did the best we could. There are some really fast crews out there and next year we'll definitely have some better finishes.
"Coming in to the regatta I wasn't really sure how we were going to do. Going through it, I felt that our boat was coming together because we only had that lineup for a few days. Rowing together and finally starting to connect a little bit better definitely helped us on an emotional level. We've always been strong enough to do it.
"Bob (Ernst) saying that all of our seats were up for grabs definitely gave us that extra push to push harder. We all knew that we could push harder. With that erg workout we did, we proved to ourselves that we're strong enough.
"I'm pretty excited. Being a sophomore, it's very exciting for me knowing that my class is very strong. The people in the jayvees and then the third varsity are very strong as well. Coming up next year I'm just excited to do even better.
"We really want to see Washington rowing do well again like we did back when it first started as an NCAA sport. We definitely want to continue that tradition and to keep up with the men's team. For me it's really important that we get respect for all levels of our team and I think we definitely earned it this week."