The youth South Jersey Rowing Club (SJRC) will compete in the U.S. Rowing’s Youth National Championship Thursday through June 12 at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Florida.
The regatta will welcome thousands of rowers from all over the country to compete for medals in up to 43 events. The youth rowing team of 22 athletes – who range in age from 13 to 18 – have been trained under the direction of head coach Lindsay Meyer Clarke and her staff. Clarke is an accomplished rower who won at the 2006 Youth Nationals, took the first medal for an American single sculler at junior world championships and also rowed in the 2008 Olympics.
This year’s local contestants represent the most club rowers who have competed in the nationals. Many of them reside in local towns that include Cherry Hill, Collingswood, Pennsauken and Shamong and attend public and private middle and high schools in the region.
Rebecca Maffei, a Mount Laurel resident and club rower herself, is excited to participate in the competition under Clarke, citing her coach’s experience and guidance as key benefits going into the nationals.
“I’m excited to go to nationals because it’s my second time … under coach Lindsey,” Maffei said. “She’s been awesome helping me to achieve my goals and helping our whole team achieve our goals. (Clarke’s) knowledge about the sport and her experience at high-level regattas helps us a lot when we go away to these big regattas.”
Anthony Coluzzi, Marlton-based rower, looks forward to competing against the variety of rowers in the regatta.
“ … It’s a chance to race the best teams in the country,” he noted.
Kristen Viglietta, a public relations volunteer for the rowing club, emphasized the coaching staff and rowers’ efforts, and the work it takes to reach nationals. She believes lessons being taught to the young club members can be applied to their lives as well.
“These rowers not only get an opportunity to row on the national stage under SJRC’s program, but they are also coached on what it takes to succeed in life on and off the water,” added Viglietta, parent of a club rower.
Competing rowers, coaches and their staff departed Tuesday for the Youth Nationals Championship and will return to South Jersey Sunday.