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Underdog approach lifts Barry

2015 Division II Rowing

After the Barry University rowing team finished second nationally in 2013, the Buccaneers’ appetite for a championship only grew stronger. To win one in 2015, the Bucs decided on a different approach: They modified their self-image.

“We were more cocky (in 2013) than we are now,” junior Beth Desmond told the Miami Herald. “This year, we pictured ourselves as the underdogs. When you do that, you want to win more.”

This season, the Bucs flourished, winning every Division II competition they entered. That included the NCAA Division II Rowing Championships on May 31 at Gold River, California. It marked the first national title in program history.

Barry, located in Miami Shores, Florida, opened the championships as top seed and won both the varsity eight and varsity four events. The Bucs took their direction from Boban Rankovic, the team’s second-year head coach, and assistant Lindsay Shoop. Both are former Olympic rowers, Rankovic for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Shoop for the U.S.

Rankovic preaches to his athletes that rowing is “the ultimate team sport.” They may be teammates now, he has said, but he wants them to be friends for life – as he is with his former Olympic mates.

“Watching them one stroke at a time was kind of amazing and beautiful because … you see how hard they work and how much they wanted it,” Rankovic said about his Barry rowers. “We focused on the race at hand. That’s the beauty of this team; they’ve always felt that each race was its own and that they always had to gear up and give 100 percent. We came to earn the right to be national champions.”