2016 USRowing Youth National Championships Blog

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Memories at Mercer, the 2016 USRowing Graduation Ceremony

Jun 10, 2016

WEST WINDSOR, N.J. – Back in San Diego, California, D’amy Steward’s classmates were busy preparing for their high school graduation ceremony. Making sure her own graduation gown wasn’t wrinkled and her bedazzled blue letter “D” was perfectly intact on top of her cap, so was Steward. The only difference was that she was more than 2,000 miles away at Mercer County Park in West Windsor, N.J., and surrounded by her rowing family instead of her classmates.

Steward, along with more than 200 senior student-athletes, spent the breezyED1_3926(1 of 1) copy Thursday evening at the 2nd Annual USRowing Graduation Ceremony. The graduates and over 1,500 other athletes are competing in the 2016 USRowing Youth National Championships this weekend.

A member of the San Diego Rowing Club, who will row for Duke University this fall, Steward has been an elite junior sailor for most of her life. Before she was racing in the quadruple sculls for SDRC, Steward qualified for the US Sailing Singlehanded Championships.

“I don’t mind missing my graduation back home,” said Steward. “This is such a big event, I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I would rather graduate with my teammates because they are so important to me. My parents were thrilled that this was here for us and my aunt even changed her flight and flew here to New Jersey to come to this graduation.”

USR_8935(1 of 1) copyThe USRowing Graduation Ceremony was created for athletes just like Steward, as many rowers miss their high school graduation ceremonies due to long weekends spent at USRowing regional qualifiers or the USRowing Youth National Championships. Since its inaugural year at Nathan Benderson Park in 2015, USRowing is pleased to bring the event back for athletes, parents and coaches, alike.  

“What I really enjoy about this event is that it truly embodies the essence of the rowing community that we live in," said USRowing CEO Glenn Merry. “So many times, people think of rowing as just the race on the water, but it is about being with your teammates that have become your family over time.”

An evening set to honor the graduating class of 2016, senior student-athletes were honored in a short ceremony where they received a USRowing Certificate of Excellence and an Honor Cord. Graduates enjoyed speeches from the Scholastic Honor Roll Representatives from the Princeton National Rowing Association, Eileen Hu and Kathryn Miller, and keynote speaker, Austin Hack (Old Lyme, Conn.), stroke seat of the 2016 U.S. Olympic men's eight.

Hack, who during his time as a junior athlete did not qualify for a USRowing Youth National Championships, shared his wisdom straight from the starting dock of his recent success in Lucerne, where the men’s eight earned Olympic qualification and won bronze at World Rowing Cup II.

“This is such a special event for the kids,” said Hack. “It is almost cooler now that I get to just sit back and enjoy watching them all race.”

USRowing will now offer photos of the 2016 USRowing Youth National Championships, including the USRowing Graduation Ceremony, through it's new website www.usrowingphotos.com

In honor of the website's inaugural event, USRowing is offering a 15% coupon code for your first purchase using the code below.

YNC2016PROMO

Please email any questions to photos@usrowing.org.
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