At the age of twenty, having coxed at Penn for less than two years, I was selected to my first National Team, steering the lightweight eight at the World Championships in Amsterdam in 1977. It was a magical summer, one of the best of my life, and I remember clearly the thrill of being selected, the pride of wearing the USA colors, and the excitement of competing against the best athletes in the world. Our boat rowed poorly and raced even worse, but despite our bad performance the experience was the best I’d had in my life up until that point.
In recent years I have learned, however, that the pride, the joy, and the excitement of racing as a young man is nowhere near as rewarding as supporting today’s athletes, both the men and the women. They train year round, putting careers and family on hold in pursuit of their quest. They torture themselves in their daily workouts then come back with a smile for more each and every day. They are the closest of friends on and off the water, yet understand that there are a limited number of seats and not enough for all of them to share. They are committed, determined, cheerful, articulate and the best that our nation has to offer. I support them as much as I can with my time, with my experience and with my money. Wearing the colors in competition almost forty years ago was thrilling but not even close to watching four of our finest athletes win a gold medal at a recent World Championships, rowing in a racing shell that carried my name. I will continue to support both the NRF and our athletes for as long as I can.