‘Enforcer’ leads Gophers first varsity eight

Anna Greene sits in the sixth seat of the team’s first varsity eight boat.

Junior Anna Greene rows during the University's team practice on the Mississippi River on Monday afternoon.

Joe Sulik

Junior Anna Greene rows during the University’s team practice on the Mississippi River on Monday afternoon.

Mike Hendrickson

Anna Greene is “the Enforcer” to head coach Wendy Davis.
 
 
The junior has been the sixth seat on the first varsity eight for the past two weeks of practice and is the only rower this season the coach hasn’t moved from the boat besides the coxswain.
 
 
“I call it, ‘the enforcer seat,’” Davis said. “If the sixth seat doesn’t understand that rhythm, then you’re doomed. She not only understands it but says, ‘This is the rhythm, and this is how hard we’re going to do it.’”
 
 
Senior Lisa Weeks, who has also been an important part of the first varsity eight boat, said she has never seen someone like Greene before.
 
 
“She applies the power,” Weeks said. “She’s just incredible, both on the water and off the water.”
 
 
The first varsity eight boat has undergone multiple lineup changes this year, the latest one coming after a disappointing finish at the Big Ten Double Dual on April 9.
 
 
Davis put Greene on the sixth seat afterward, and the results have been good so far in practice.
 
 
“Everybody looked about 20 percent worse [at the Big Ten Double Dual] than what I saw in practice,” Davis said. “The whole team has rebounded from that.”
 
 
The constant lineup changes haven’t been easy at times for Greene, who herself switched seats multiple times on the first varsity eight boat. She said all the changes have been for the better, though.
 
 
Greene, a walk-on, was vying to be a part of the first varsity eight boat last season, but a nonathletic concussion forced her to miss six weeks. 
 
 
She spent time on the two varsity four boats and the second varsity eight and then participated in the optional summer practices to get her to where she thought she belonged.
 
 
“It was really hard to get back into things,” Greene said. “I’m used to going 100 percent in every single practice, and to only be restricted to biking for 10 minutes was really hard for me.”
 
 
Her comeback and success didn’t surprise her coach, as Davis said Greene came back with a vengeance.
 
 
“It made me even more excited to be able to have a full practice at full pressure,” Greene said.
 
 
Greene was an avid golfer in high school and earned all-conference honors playing for Irondale High School in New Brighton, Minn. 
 
 
The sport helped her pick up rowing because there are similarities between learning to control a golf club and learning to control an oar.
 
 
“In golf, you could hit a bad shot, and that kind of screws up your hole, but you can’t let it mess up your entire round,” Greene said. “In rowing, I could mess up a stroke, but I still have 232 strokes to take, so I just can’t let one stroke affect how the rest of the race goes.”
 
 
Davis said the team’s boats have been looking well ahead of the Big Ten/Big XII Invite on April 23, and all boats — not just the first varsity eight — have benefited from having a rower like Greene.
 
 
“If I could have 20 more just like her, that’d be great,” Davis said.