by Megan Bach
After arriving at the hotel late Friday night, we are each given a small package, stuffed with our new required clothing. Upon seeing the yellow long-sleeve shirt, and the neon hats, mockeries of the new gear popped into almost everyone's minds. Quickly after, the baseball hats were shoved into the winter beanies, creating an almost three-foot tower of awkward neon atop athlete Iasia Cormier's head. Jokes aside, the new gear has spurred a lot of mixed emotions from the athletes, although all are outspoken by Coach Veronica Platzer’s highly vocalized opinions. Most Athletes were intrigued by our new high visibility baseball hats and winter beanies, but because of the weather conditions during the recent Oklahoma City regatta, the beanies themselves didn't get much use.
The purchase of high-visibility gear was made with safety in mind. “You can just flash a headlight across and, 'Oh, there [the rowers] are,'” said Lisa Dirt, former head coach of CJC and current coach at (the rival) Mile High rowing club in Denver. The hats are just another installment of the many new safety features following the incident last fall, lovingly referred to as “The Terrible Tuesday” by the athletes and coaching staff alike. On this Tuesday, multiple large boats had been sent out to practice, leaving the dock in reasonable weather conditions. But at some time during the practice, wind speeds had picked up drastically, causing whitecaps on the water, which pushed our crews into the large dam on the east side of Boulder City’s reservoir.
All of the crews on the water experience swamping of their boats, and the athletes needed to jump into the water, resulting in around 18 athletes being forced into the cold water. Luckily, no one was seriously injured. Safety procedures at the time were inadequate to deal with such a situation, but, as a team, we learned from this experience, and have been steadily implementing new ways to stay safe on the water. This includes the purchase of a new safety launch, the training of people to drive the safety launch, the strengthening of our relationship with Lake Patrol at the reservoir, and now the requirement of the high visibility hats.
When preparing for, and during, the many races at the Oklahoma City regatta, athletes wore these new hats. “[The hats] look kinda dumb, but really unify us [as a team],” said rower Ella Webber. When we watched one of our boats, with eight rowers in it, barrel down the course, you could see the hats in the distance, and tell which boat was ours even after they had passed and faded into fuzzy blobs in the distance.
“They are definitely ‘hi-vis.’ I can definitely see you,” said Julie Maitland, the parent of a rower. “They clash a little with the uni-suits, but I think we can make it work.” The parent chaperones, athletes, and coach ‘Vee’ all liked how you could spot the neon yellow from far off and easily spot a missing athlete in the crowd.
The fashionability was the only criticism from the athletes. Our uni-suits are black shorts and white tank-tops with yellow stripes down the sides, the long sleeve outer shirt is the same yellow, with white stripes on the arms, and then the hats are a totally different tone of yellow, and according to one person, a little greener than the rest of our yellow. “We are definitely visible,” said Riley Maitland. “We look like light bulbs!”
“We all wear them, or no one wears them,” said Olivia Pfeiffer, one of ours coxswains, and I agree. When the entire boat wears the matching gear, we look highly unified and put-together, but alone the individual articles of clothing look really dorky, yellow usually isn't a flattering color.
However, one athlete made the hi-vis hats look particularly good; “The neon yellow just brings out my skin tone,” commented Grady Clark, another CJC coxswain. All in all, Colorado Junior Crew’s new gear has a high amount of function, but not a lot of fashion sense. Unless, of course, you're Grady.