Despite a two-year break from playing competitive sports, it didn’t take long for Pacific Lutheran University rower Carly Lange to integrate herself into the program.
Her impact even surprised coach Andrew Foltz.
“You just don’t see someone come in midseason and become acclimated so quickly,” he said.
Lange, a Sumner High School alum, walked into the Lutes’ program and looked like a natural.
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“I came in not knowing what to expect, really,” Lange admitted. “I wanted to row my freshman year, but my schedule didn’t allow me to join then.”
As a nursing major at PLU, Lange didn’t have the time to balance both academics and athletics, and her advisors even suggested to put full focus into her studies. After all, her major is why Lange came to PLU.
“It’s a lot of studying, and it takes up most of my time,” Lange said. “I didn’t think I would be able to balance both, but once I talked to some of the girls here, I figured I would give it a try.”
At midseason, PLU had 15 girls listed on the roster to make up two teams (crews) and two boats (racing shells). Each crew and shell is supposed to support an eight-woman team.
The Lutes were short one member by one.
“We only had 15 women on our roster, and Carly was really No. 16 for us,” Foltz admitted. “She was a warm body … but she showed a lot more than filling up our team sheets.”
Right off the bat, Lange’s natural athleticism came through as she demonstrated endurance not seen from a new recruit, let alone one coming in midseason in February.
“Right away she showed good core work and strong endurance,” senior Clarissa Pendleton said. “A lot of girls come in not realizing that it requires a strong core … it’s tough on new girls.”
But for Lange, it seemed like she was a natural in the sport — albeit a little green at times.
“Her conditioning was instantly one of the best on the team, so we moved her to the first boat,” Foltz said. “She was still raw mechanically, so the hope was by putting her around our best rowers, it would make up for that and she would learn by seeing them work.”
It’s a theory that’s worked as Lange is now set to help PLU jump Division III Northwest Conference rival University of Puget Sound and the Loggers’ 13-year league championship rowing streak.
Unison on the water
For PLU rowing and the girls crew, the goal is simple this long campaign: reach your potential.
With a season that stretches from October to May, it’s about putting together the best times as a single unit. It’s the ultimate test in arguably the ultimate team sport.
“It definitely is more of a team sports than others,” sophomore Sydney Otey said. “You have to move with your team, because it doesn’t help for one person to be working harder than the others. You have to work together.”
And to get there — surpassing rival UPS — the Lutes will have to continue working together. It doesn’t have to happen within the first month, but as long as they continue to work hard, they’ll prove that the Loggers’ streak can be snapped.
“They’re close,” Foltz said. “(UPS) barely beat us last year, and I think we’ve improved. I think they can be one of the best teams out on the water each race.”
PLU’s rowing season begins Oct. 18 at the American Lake Fall Classic in Steilacoom.