Sydney Edwards Makes History for U.S. Men’s U19 National Team

On Thursday, August 3, the United States Under 19 men’s eight will begin competition against nine other nations in Trakai, Lithuania for the 2017 World Rowing Junior Championships. The athletes have their sights set on the medal stand, but the crew has already made history.

The eight’s coxswain, Sydney Edwards, is the first female coxswain to compete as part of a U.S. Men’s national team crew.

In early March, FISA announced a decision that lifted gender restrictions on coxswains, allowing a woman to cox a men’s crew and a man to cox a women’s crew. Backed by years of competitive racing experience with Sarasota Crew and one women’s Under 19 U.S. national team season under her belt, Edwards is prepared to take on the challenge.

“Sydney has been a tremendous asset to the men’s eight this year,” said Jesse Foglia, men’s eight coach for the U.S. Under 19 national team. “She is easy to collaborate with when it comes to what is happening inside the boat, communicates clearly and concisely, and, holds the athletes to a high standard.”

A female coxswain was a surprise to the boys of the Under 19 national team this year, however, Edwards’ talent in the ninth seat quickly translated to her inclusion within the group.

I still remember the first day at the introduction meeting, the guys were looking around and were completely baffled at the fact that there was a girl at men’s camp,” said Edwards. “That being said, everyone has been so supportive during the whole selection and training process… I feel like I have 20 massive older brothers on my team.”

Edwards’ teammates notice how vital her skills on and off the water are to their success in the boat. Stroke seat Spencer Dettlinger appreciates her awareness and assertive nature and the positive effects they have on the entire crew.

“When I first got to Selection Camp and was coxed by Sydney for the first time, I was surprised how much of a mechanical and technical thinker she is,” Dettlinger said. “Even though she’s sitting way out in the stern, her boat feel is so good that she could call a technical call to the bow seat and the problem would be immediately fixed.”

Dettlinger went on to acknowledge Edwards’ aggression in the coxswain seat, commending her ability to both point out technical changes and motivate the crew.

“Not only is she like a coach in the boat, Sydney is very aggressive and gets us motivated when it hurts the most during pieces… Her tone and aggressiveness while coxing is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced on the water.”

As she and the rest of the Under 19 men’s eight begin racing in Trakai next week, Edwards will set a precedent for future coxswains to strive for excellence in any boat they race in, regardless of gender.

Complete press coverage, athlete bios and links to event information can be found at www.usrowing.org and www.worldrowing.com. Follow along with the U.S. Under 19 National Team as they prepare for the 2017 World Rowing Junior Championships by using the hashtag #TrekToTrakai.


Written by Elise Gorberg, egorberg@usrowing.org

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