USRowing Announces 2012 Fan’s Choice Award Winners

by Ed Moran | Oct 23, 2012
Nearly 33,000 votes were cast. Some of the races were close. Some were not so close. But when the polls closed Monday night, USRowing fans across the country selected the seven winners of 2012 Fan’s Choice Awards.
PRINCETON, N.J. – Nearly 33,000 votes were cast. Some of the races were close. Some were not so close. But when the polls closed Monday night, USRowing fans across the country selected the seven winners of 2012 Fan’s Choice Awards.

Co-sponsored by USRowing and row2k Media, the award winners were nominated and voted on based on their contributions and excellence in rowing in 2012. All seven award winners will be honored at the Golden Oars Awards Dinner on Wednesday, November 14, at the New York Athletic Club in New York City.

“Rowing is full of exceptional people with inspiring stories, and it was great to be involved in recognizing this group of rowing people," said Ed Hewitt of "Great people like these are what makes our sport special; thanks to all the nominees for giving their best to the sport, and tremendous congratulations to the winners."

“Congratulations to all the award winners. The stories of all the nominees were inspiring and proved beyond a doubt that 2012 was a remarkable year for our sport,” said Beth Kohl, USRowing Chief Marketing Officer.

“Our vision for the Fan's Choice campaign was to share the amazing stories of accomplishment with the rowing community and to encourage our fans to participate in recognizing the year's top performances. We look forward to recognizing the winners at Golden Oars,” Kohl said.

The 2012 winners are:

Junior Rower of the Year
Alia Shafi, Oakland Strokes

As stroke of the varsity eight, Shafi led Oakland Strokes to 17 victories in 19 races during a year-long campaign that included gold medals in the lightweight eight at the San Diego Crew Classic, the 2012 USRowing Youth National Championships, the lightweight eight and four at the USRowing Southwest Junior Regional Championships and the under 19 women's eight and four and under 23 lightweight four and eight at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta.

Collegiate Rower of the Year
Kristine O'Brien, University of Virginia

O’Brien’s stellar season at the University of Virginia saw her win an NCAA championship in the varsity eight and an NCAA team championship. She went on to win a gold medal in the eight at the 2012 World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Trakai, Lithuania.

Masters Rower of the Year
Paul Green, Saugatuck Rowing Club

At 88 years old and battling Parkinson’s Disease, Green trains every day and uses rowing to hold off the symptoms of his illness. While competing in the 2012 USRowing Masters National Championships, Paul won a bronze medal in the lightweight men’s J single sculls. He heads a charity that includes his personal motto, "Nevah Surrendah."

National Team Rower of the Year
Charlie Cole

Cole, last year’s USRowing Male Athlete of the Year, won a bronze medal in the men’s four at the 2012 Olympic Games along with teammates Scott Gault, Glenn Ochal and Henrik Rummel. Leading up to London, Cole and Ochal won the pair event at the first 2012 National Selection Regatta. The New Canaan, Conn. native is a nine-time national team member and graduate of Yale University (2007) and Oxford University (2008).

Junior Coach of the Year
Greg King, National Cathedral School

In his first season as head coach of the Washington, D.C. based high school, King’s crews dominated on the national stage, winning gold at the 2012 Scholastic Rowing Association of America National Championship Regatta in the women's eight and took silver at the Stotesbury Regatta. The Washington Post named him a 2012 All-Met Coach.

Collegiate Coach of the Year
Paul Cooke, Brown University

As the men’s head coach of the Providence, R.I. university, Cooke’s crews won the Ivy League and the ECAC Championships, took silver at IRA Championships and took two boats to Henley Royal Regatta finals, finishing runner-up in both the Grand and Temple Challenge Cups.

Masters Coach of the Year
Boris Kusturic, Cambridge Boat Club

Under Kusturic’s guidance, Cambridge Boat Club won the overall points trophy and men's point trophy at the 2012 USRowing Masters National Championships, scoring points with many lineups that had never rowed together before the race. He runs scrimmages for the club members, one thousand sprint pieces in the summer and head races in the fall to help them improve their approach to racing.

For more information about the 2012 Golden Oars Awards Dinner, visit To purchase a ticket or secure a table, visit

Click here for a link to the 2011 Fan's Choice Award Winners.

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USRowing is a nonprofit organization recognized by the United States Olympic Committee as the governing body for the sport of rowing in the United States. USRowing’s official suppliers include Boathouse Sports, Vespoli, WinTech, Filippi, Croker Oars, Rudy Project, Concept2, Nielsen Kellerman, PowerHTV and Ludus Tours. USRowing also receives generous support from the National Rowing Foundation and its corporate sponsors and partners ANXeBusiness Corp, Voxer, EZ Dock, EMCVenues, Whole Foods and One Equity Partners. For more information, visit The USRowing National Team program relies on strong partnerships to enable continued success. New opportunities exist to support the teams through the next quadrennial, culminating with the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. America Rows, which supports diversity in rowing and the USRowing adaptive programs also benefit from corporate support. For more information, please contact Beth Kohl at
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