Saturday, February 21, 2015

World University Games: Michigan's Gregg Hartsuff Putting Experience to Good Use

Michigan men racing at the Head Of The Charles (Photo courtesy of Gregg Hartsuff)
Working from his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, longtime Wolverines head coach Gregg Hartsuff is putting together what he hopes will be a podium-ready team for the 2015 World University Games, under the aegis of USRowing. Following the performance at least year's World University Games, USRowing had decided against sending another team this year, but when representatives from the Games reached out to Hartsuff, he felt that it would be a worthy project, and USRowing later agreed to back the team. (The team will be allowed to use the official crest, and will be racing as the United States in Korea this summer, but must fund its own trip to the regatta.)

"It's a process for a guy to buy into what you're doing, and it's an absolute necessity if you're ever going to be fast."The athletes are tasked with fundraising, and this is where Hartsuff's years as a club coach come in handy—he already understands how to structure what is essentially a small business, with the necessary transparency and non-profit status that goes along with truly amateur athletics. Having selected the majority of the squad early, Hartsuff hopes that the rowers will be committed to the process, and not view this as a one-and-done but rather as a potentially important stepping stone for club athletes looking to make it into the increasingly competitive senior and Olympic squads. Also, earlier selection means that tickets can be bought and reservations can be made at lower prices, helping to keep down costs.

But it's not all logistics. In speaking with Hartsuff, his hope is that athletes will arrive at camp having already 'bought in'—that is, the athletes will already be committed to making the necessary technical changes to get onto the same page when the five-week training camp begins in advance of competition. "Attitude-wise, they really need to be able to come in with their own personal background, which I'm not invalidating—we all do what we do because we have the beliefs that we've developed over time—but they need to be able to adapt to what we're trying to do." This goes for technique, as well as physiological preparation.

"It's a process for a guy to buy into what you're doing, and it's an absolute necessity if you're ever going to be fast," he says. "Some younger coaches whom I've mentored have at times been offended by athletes challenging them, questioning why they're doing something. I first have to make them understand that no, you want that—you want a guy who is trying to understand."

"Something I've tried to impress upon the guys is that it's not just about representing the United States—it's about winning while representing the United States."He continues: "In this situation, it's a process that has to take place quickly. So, what I'm doing with some of these guys is saying ok, you're in you're own program, and please do what you're coach says—don't be 'that guy' who is so much better than everyone else and doesn't mesh with your crew. But what I'm doing is explaining some of the aspects of rowing technique that I coach, and saying this is what lies ahead for you when you come here."

Hartsuff hopes that despite the diverse array of backgrounds and experience, the group can come together quickly, and have a legitimate shot at winning. "Something I've tried to impress upon the guys is that it's not just about representing the United States—it's about winning while representing the United States," explains Hartsuff. This is echoed on the camp's dedicated website: "I do not view this as a 'development' squad, though I am sure there will be development that happens as part of it. I want to win medals with this group."

In order to be selected, prospective athletes submitted video footage of their rowing, as well as erg scores (which had to fall within certain parameters outlined here) to Hartsuff and his team. The athletes are completing extra workouts, and, as Hartsuff outlines, "their homework assignment is to regularly watch the '96 Dutch men's eight—there's a training clip from just before the Olympic Games, and it's the most beautiful rowing."



Hartsuff adds: "I'm friends with Michiel [Bartman], who was the three seat in that crew—we coached at summer camps and stuff together—and I've quizzed him on how they were being coached. I just find that it's exactly how I envision what I want out of my athletes."

The USRowing World University Games team will have to raise roughly $4,000-5,000 per person to pay for the trip. To get involved, and to donate, please visit the official website linked above. There are still several seats yet to be selected, but Hartsuff hopes to have the whole team in place by the end of March.

The athletes selected so far are:

Heavyweight Sweep (Events 8+, 4-, 2-)

Starboards:
Gentry, Austin / 6'3" / 205 / Grand Valley State University / Junior
Herbers, Matt / 6'3" / 205 / University of Michigan / Senior
Maytom, Tim / 6'1"/ 185 / UCLA / Senior
McHugh, Peter / 6'4" 210 / Purdue University / Junior
O'Connor, Kevin / 6'6" / 205 / University of Washington / Junior
Smith, Carl / 6'6" / 215 / Western Washington / Senior
Tyson, Mitchell / 6'0" / 190 / University of Michigan / Junior
(0 spots remaining)

Ports:
Brown, Alex / 6'7" / 200 / University of Michigan / Junior
Luetzow, Ian / 6'6" / 205 / Drexel University / Senior
Price, Baruch / 6'8" / 205 / Oklahoma City University / Sophomore
Searcy, Ryan / 6'9" / 220 / North Carolina / Senior
Vear, Wes / 6'2" / 208 / University of Michigan / Senior
(2 spots remaining)

Coxswain:
Habibovic, Hadzo / 5'9" / 121 / Oklahoma City University / Senior

Heavyweight Scullers (Events: 1x, 2x)

George, Stephen / 6'5" / 205 / Oklahoma City University / Senior
Petronic, Zachary / 6'3" / 180 / University of Pittsburgh / Senior
Clarke Cady-McCrea / 6'3" / 190 / Colgate / Sophomore
(0 spots remaining)

Lightweights (Events: 4-, 2x, 1x)

Michelson, Trevor / 6'0" / 160 Wesleyan University / Graduate
(All sweep and 2 sculling spots remaining)

-RR

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