Longhorns hit the open water to prepare for Friday’s match against Wildcats

Alex Briseño

Head coach Angela Kelly and her staff had to ensure her team was on the same page after a strand of tough losses over the past few weeks, so she called a team meeting after Texas’ latest loss.

“We had a team meeting after the match on Sunday where we were able to get to the heart of how the team was feeling,” Kelly said. “Anytime you can confront these feelings, especially when it’s after some adversity, there’s always positive growth.”

But the team meeting wasn’t Kelly’s only strategy for building the chemistry of her squad. 

Kelly took the Longhorns (6–6–1, 0–3–1 Big 12) out to Lady Bird Lake for bonding Tuesday morning instead of a traditional practice. And Kelly’s players knew their head coach was up to something. 

“[Tuesday] was really unusual,” freshman forward Cyera Hintzen said. “We got the text saying, hey, bring a towel and show up at this address. We were like, ‘What the heck, it’s Tuesday, that’s the hardest day.’ We were scared we were going to be swimming up and down the river because we just talked about trust and commitment.”

The themes of the week seemed to be clear: communication, trust and commitment. So they spent the morning doing something that requires just those elements: rowing.

“I think our players certainly have a greater appreciation for the rowing team,”  Kelly said. “They understand how critical it is for everyone to be on the same page, because that’s what has to happen in the boat. That was the piece that, as a staff, we were looking for. I think that form of bonding this morning was exactly what this team needed at this moment.”

The Longhorns need that bonding coming off three straight defeats and a tie to start Big 12 play. The team forced overtimes in two of the three losses and gave up goals with just minutes remaining in each.

Texas has a chance to get back on track at home against Kansas State on Friday at 7 p.m. The Wildcats (4–6–3) have struggled this season but have yet to begin Big 12 play heading into Friday’s matchup.

Kelly said she hopes her team-building pays off as the Longhorns look to turn their season around. 

“We’re just excited to get back on the field,” Kelly said. “We know exactly what we need to do. To be perfectly honest, it’s not about our opponent on Friday night; it’s about us and finding some joy within the game.”