22 youth rowers from South Jersey Rowing Club (SJRC), ages 13 to 18, have qualified to row at US Rowing’s Youth National Championships that will take place June 9 to 12 at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, FL. This regatta features more than 2,000 rowers from all over the country racing for medals in up to 43 events.
The rowers all compete on SJRC’s high school rowing team, oftentimes waking up before the sun has risen, and can be seen rowing as evening shadows on the Cooper River in late November. The athletes train under the direction of fiercely dedicated head coach Lindsay Meyer Clarke and her coaching staff, six days/week, with many twice daily training sessions, to prepare for the national stage.
“I am so proud of all of the hard work that every single member of this team has put in and that includes those going to nationals and those who aren’t,” said Clarke. “Having nearly half of our team going to compete nationally is a testament to the dedication of our athletes to each other from top to bottom. Watching how they have supported one another throughout the year is what makes coaching fun.”
Those going to Youth National Championships hail from a number of local towns including Cherry Hill, Collingswood, Haddon Heights, Haddon Township, Haddonfield, Marlton, Mt. Laurel, Pennsauken, Shamong, West Collingswood Heights and even Haverford, PA. They come from public and private middle and high schools throughout the region.
“I’m extremely, extremely excited to be 13, a novice, and going to nationals!” said Piper Russo of Haddonfield, one of the youngest members of the team. “This is going to be such a great experience for me and all the people in my boat. I can’t wait.”
Russo’s head coach has been instrumental in helping her get to nationals.
“Coach Lindsay can be tough, but I know it comes from love,” Russo added. “She really motivates me to work hard and do my best. Lindsay is my idol.”
Lindsay Meyer Clarke, head coach of South Jersey Rowing Club, is an accomplished rower herself. Clarke won the women’s single at the 2006 Youth Nationals and won the first ever medal for an American single sculler at junior world championships. The following year, Meyer Clarke won gold at U23 worlds with the women’s 4x, is a former Stanford, National Team, and 2008 Olympic rower.
The 22 young athletes, along with Meyer Clarke and her coaching staff, depart on Tuesday, June 7 for Youth Nationals and return back to South Jersey on Sunday, June 12.