Dec. 20, 2011
BERKELEY - A total of 13 former California men's rowers, six for the United States, are currently training in the hopes of earning a spot on their respective boats and compete in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England. Leading the way for the U.S. is Golden Bears' head coach Mike Teti, who is coaching the U.S. men's eight.
The six Bears competing for the U.S. are Nareg Guregian (2010 Pac-10 Athlete of the Year), Brandon Shald, Zachary Vlahos, Deaglan McEachern, Elliot Hovey and Mike Holbrook. Vlahos, Shald and Guregian were coached by Teti at Cal, as well.
"It helps that I know them," Teti said about once again working with his former student-athletes. "The more information that you have about somebody, the easier it is to coach them. The fact that I know them, makes it a little bit easier. I know when they're making mistakes, how to correct them and what they respond to. In that respect, it's easier. It's good to have some guys on here from our team. It bodes well for our program. It's good for guys on our team now to see these guys who really have an opportunity to race in the Olympics and possibly win a medal."
His former rowers are definitely happy to see a familiar face when they hit the water, striving to accomplish such a tremendous feat.
"It's good, especially for me being a Cal guy," Vlahos said. "He was my coach my last two years at Cal. It's a very familiar coaching style to me. It's good for me."
It was only a few months ago when Teti came on board to assist the U.S. Most coaches are given a four-year cycle to prepare for the next Olympic Games, that is not the case for Teti. For many coaches, the limited time would bring upon quite a burden, especially while being the head coach for a collegiate squad, but not for Teti. Coaching multiple teams at once does not faze Teti in the least.
Experience is definitely on Teti's side, as well, having been a fixture in U.S. rowing in the Olympics as either a competitor or a coach from 1977 to 2008. In addition, the past two years, he has coached U-23 teams that medaled each year.
"I'm familiar with it, the training and the competition," Teti said. "It doesn't make it really hard for me. The hard part is going to be winning, but that's why it's the Olympics and that's why it's every four years. It's going to be hard."
One of the differences between collegiate and international rowing is, for this competition, rowers from Cal and Washington are now teammates instead of in opposing boats. The long-time traditional rivalry between the Bears and Huskies is put on hold for the ultimate goal of representing their country in the Olympics.
The rivalry still exists in practice, but it's all in good fun.
"It lightens the mood," Shald said. "We go back and forth with the Washington guys. It lightens the mood in practice. When you're doing something as rigorous as we're doing, you kind of need that so it's not always getting after it."
The U.S. is not the only country that could have Cal representation in rowing in the Olympics. Three Bears each are trying to make the final cut in Canada (Spencer Crowley, Will Dean, Geoff Roth) and Serbia (Marko Marjanovic, Jovan Popovic, Goran Todorovic) and also Olivier Siegelaar for The Netherlands.
The boats will be announced later this spring.
2012 Former Cal rowers and Olympic Hopefuls