Through ‘controlled chaos’ University of Tennessee rowers put trust in each other

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Rowers call it “controlled chaos.”

“The start’s pretty hectic. There’s a lot of noise and you can hear the boats taking off the line,” said Jennifer Davis. “You’re going all out and you’re giving it your all, but you trust that you have trained hard enough that your body can handle it.”

Davis is a coxswain. She steers the boat and is responsible for coordinating the power and rhythm of the rowers. Rowers respect her calls just like they would a head coach.

“It’s definitely a very strong relationship between a rower and a coxswain because you have to really put your full fate in her hands for that seven-minute race,” said Kristin Girard a rower on Davis’ crew. “Depending on where you are in the boat, every seat has a different role but everybody’s all working together to do one thing.”

The women on the University of Tennessee’s Rowing Team look flawless and effortless as they glide across the Tennessee River. Their paddles dip in unison, cutting across the water.

“You think about basketball or volleyball you can always call a timeout when something’s not going right, but once you shove off the dock you’re all in and you’re all in together so you have to really create that dynamic and that bond knowing that we have a plan and we have one shot to execute because you can’t stop and you can’t get water,” said Girard.

Jennifer Davis (Left) and Kristin Girard (Right)

Girard said a lot of people don’t realize that rowing is actually a leg sport. Rowers put their paddles in the water and apply pressure to the oar by pushing their seat toward the bow of the boat and extending their legs, pushing the boat through the water.

“You have to really be together and you have to be moving every second of the way together,” said Gird. “If one person starts pushing really hard and everyone else isn’t really pushing very hard, it’s not really going to go well.”

Davis agrees.

“I’ve played other sports and I’ve watched other sports and I think rowing is truly the epitome of trust in your teammates, because you really have to belive that you can do it all together in order for anything good to happen,” said Davis.

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