The women’s rowing team has set its sights on win­ning a third con­sec­u­tive Colo­nial Ath­letic Asso­ci­a­tion title this spring and improving its per­for­mance in the NCAA cham­pi­onship. We asked head coach Joe Wil­helm to dis­cuss the Huskies’ prepa­ra­tion for the spring season, which begins Sat­urday with the annual Beanpot regatta, and the team’s defining characteristics.

The team ended the fall season with a strong showing at the Foot of the Charles, with the var­sity eight cap­turing first place for the second straight season. What’s been the focus since then heading into the spring?

We raced well at the Foot of Charles. I think the results showed the hard work that went into it. Fall results show some poten­tial and that you’re on the right track, but the spring is a whole dif­ferent season. One of the things I told the team after the fall season is that it was just a first step, and that we need to con­tinue to train at a high level and increase our strength and fit­ness levels this spring.

The team recently went to Sara­sota, Florida, to train during spring break. What makes this expe­ri­ence so impor­tant to the team?

You can never tell in Boston whether the Charles River is going to be thawed in time for spring break. It’s really impor­tant for us to get on the water. Throughout the spring we’re going to be racing crews that are in warmer cli­mates and spend more time rowing during the winter than we can. Our goal with our spring training camp in Florida is to spend as much time rowing as we can and turn all that fit­ness and strength we’ve gained over the winter into boat speed.

The spring season kicks off this weekend with the Beanpot. How are you approaching this regatta?

It’s the first race of the spring season, so we tend to focus on preparing to race and how we’re going to exe­cute our race plan and how we’re going to manage race day. We’re not as focused on the results right now as we are just going as fast we can go. Now having said that, every time you get to the starting line you want to win. Our ath­letes are highly com­pet­i­tive young women. And this is a rivalry week and it’s every crew we see out on the river [refer­ring to BC, BU, Har­vard, and MIT, which all share the Charles River as their home course]. What’s unique about our sport is that every day in prac­tice we see the crews we’re going to race against. We don’t work with them, but we see them. We use the same body of water for prac­tice. This is for brag­ging rights. In that way, I don’t really feel like I have to do much to moti­vate the crew. It’s impor­tant to them.

The team has cap­tured the CAA title each of the past two years and five times since 2009. What are the team’s goals headed into the spring season?

Our goal is to win the con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship again and get to the NCAAs and improve where we fin­ished last year. We don’t have con­trol over every­thing, but what we can con­trol is how we pre­pare. I believe you finish exactly where you pre­pare to finish. The results at the end of the season are a reflec­tion of how we pre­pared, and so far this crew has trained and pre­pared as well as any crew I’ve ever coached. We have very high expec­ta­tions for the spring season.

You men­tioned how well this crew has trained. What would you say defines this team as a unit?

I go back to last season right after the NCAAs, when we elected our two cap­tains for this season: senior Katie O’Connell and junior Maggie Walsh. They met with the coaching staff and said that we feel as a team we want to do more. We want to meet our goals in the NCAAs, and we want you to chal­lenge us more and spend more time training. This is music to a coach’s ears. One of the things that we take very seri­ously across North­eastern ath­letics is the bal­ance between aca­d­e­mics and ath­letics and making sure the two go hand-​​in-​​hand and that we’re sup­porting their aca­d­emic endeavors. Both of these cap­tains are honors stu­dents. Our GPA this fall was as high as it’s ever been, and they fully embraced the whole concept.

What are the team’s great strengths?

This team has shown great resilience and tough­ness. Overall, I also think we have more depth than we’ve ever had. Every member of the team is rowing at a high level right now.