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Head of the Hooch 2019
Ellis Coffelt

The Head of the Hooch, or Chattahoochee, is a regatta held at Ross’s Landing in Chattanooga that brings together teams from all over the country. Known as the “Last of The Great Fall Regattas,” Hooch brings together a mix of University teams, along with club and scholastic rowers to compete on the Tennessee River in one of the world’s biggest rowing events.

Lily Fridl, a sophomore and second-year rower says, "Having one of the biggest regattas in the world in your backyard is a crazy feeling. The energy of the Hooch is unlike anything else. Teams from across the country come to compete in the sport they love. It's almost surreal."

The weekend’s excitement is felt by rowers and coaches alike. College counselor and coach Elizabeth Young knows that lots of planning goes into preparing rowers for fall racing. “We've been laying the groundwork for years. We have seen the steadfast commitment of experienced rowers and the addition of new energy and talent. I think we glimpsed what is possible for the team and it's exciting to be a small part of the effort. It feels amazing to watch the team do well at an event like that on our home water,” she said.

Baylor’s rowers agree that our crew coaches are good mentors for students. Junior Patrick Stultz says of coach Kate Hall, “Coach prepared me to adapt to the harshest conditions including stroking a starboard rigged mixed 8, insane amount of pressure and distraction, and ultimately the brisk 30 degree mornings. The rigorous work and painstaking training our coach put us through made the hooch seem painless and achievable. Needless to say hard work pays off.”

The experience of the race itself is hectic. On Nov. 2, rowers arrived to a crowded venue and 5k course blanketed in a thick layer of fog that caused a delay and freezing temperatures that gradually rose to make for great rowing conditions. Current on the course was strong, and wind was a factor as well. Coxswains and rowers handled conditions gracefully, focusing mostly on the fall colors and cheering crowds. Junior Caroline Chapman describes the feeling of racing: “Chattanooga is our home city; that’s our river we’re racing on. There could be 80 other teams in your event, but they don’t matter, because in that moment you truly want to win.”

Of more than 2,000 boats, Baylor was among the fastest scholastic crews on site, the Mixed 8 A boat (boys and girls in a boat of eight rowers) coxed by Katie Nelson earning a first place medal for their event, and the B boat coxed by Katherine Chen earning fifth of more than 30 boats in the same event. Other boats were also successful, with a boys' Varsity 8 coxed by Peyson Pearce coming in first among scholastic teams, a girls’ Novice 8 coxed by Anna Lindsay coming in second among scholastic teams. Visit the Raider Recap for other results.

With the Head of the Hooch marking the conclusion of a successful fall season, Baylor crew is beginning to shift gears into winter season which consists of erging, rowing, and cross-training in anticipation of a busy spring race schedule.

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