Senior Rose learns the virtues of quiet leadership

The captain was kicked out of practice twice during her first year with the team.

Kent Erdahl

Coaches will often describe a team captain’s role as that of a vocal leader. Although this old cliche seems to make sense, being vocal is definitely not what makes Minnesota rower Heidi Rose a great captain.

Rose was actually kicked out of practice twice for being too loud during the team’s first year in 2000-01.

Now, the fifth-year senior leads the Gophers with her solid performance and an ability to quietly unite the team.

After graduating from Woodbury High School in 1999, Rose rowed for Minnesota as a novice on the club team in 1999-2000 before it became a varsity sport a year later.

Because of her experience, Rose could have been looked to as a leader during a critical transition for the program. But she shrank from the challenge and failed to adapt to coach Wendy Davis’ intense approach.

“She was hardcore and she still is,” Rose said. “You basically go to practice every day and you work as hard as you can work. She sees when you’re working hard, and she sees when you’re having your off-days.”

Rose struggled to make the transition to the new team and practice regime, and she quickly clashed with her new coach.

During the Gophers’ indoor winter workouts of 2000, Rose began to verbalize her frustrations in front of the team, and Davis told her to leave practice on two separate occasions.

Rose said being kicked out was tough, but Davis always told her why she made the decision.

“It made me realize, ‘Hey you’ve got to wake up, you’ve got to do your portion of the workout,’ ” Rose said. ” ‘And if you don’t think you can do it, you don’t sit there and put a frown on your face or grumble about it – you do as much as you can do as hard as you can do it.’ “

Rose’s revelation came at just the right time for the young team. She began digging in to her workouts and committing to practices by the time the team resumed competition in the spring of 2001.

Her new appreciation for Davis and for the team made an impression on then-freshman Sam Wangsgard.

“When I came in, I was the only freshman on varsity, and it was really hard for me to connect with the girls that were

juniors and seniors,” Wangsgard said. “She would come over and hang out and tell me, ‘Hey it’s all right, you’re going to be fine.’ “

Besides taking more of a leadership role, Rose began to improve on the water, and her team noticed. She was voted the most improved oarswoman after the 2001 season.

According to Davis, Rose could also have won the most improved award each year because of the way she has grown as both a rower and a leader.

The team also acknowledged Rose’s leadership when they named her captain before her final year – another critical one for a young program.

Rose is part of the last class of seniors that joined the team in its infancy as a varsity sport. Now there is a new challenge to reach out to the skilled young rowers who came to Minnesota with something the seniors never had: experience.

With the wide range of experience, Rose said the team is similar to an extended family.

“Not everyone gets a along in a family,” she said. “You don’t choose who your family is, but you can’t necessarily choose who your teammates are either. So you have to work with that and help your teammates mesh together.”

This season Rose has united the team with her performance instead of her voice.

According to Davis, that is the biggest sign that Rose has become the captain the team needs.

“She’s actually become very quiet on the water,” Davis said. “And that’s a hallmark of a leader.”