USRowing Announces Eight of its 2018 Annual Award Winners

PRINCETON, N.J. – USRowing is pleased to announce the winners of its eight Board of Directors-selected annual awards for 2018. The following individuals will be honored for their outstanding contributions to the sport of rowing:

USRowing Medal of Honor – David A. Grant

Jack Kelly Award – Mitch Tamkin

John J. Carlin Service Award – Beth Sala Covin

Anita DeFrantz Award – Jenn Junk

Isabel Bohn Award – Pat Tirone

Clayton Chapman Award – Mitch Budman

Man of the Year – Steve Hargis

Ernestine Bayer Award – Nicole Marek

USRowing Medal of Honor recipient David A. Grant, along with the USRowing Senior, Under 23 and Under 19 Male and Female Athletes of the Year, will be honored at the 2018 Golden Oars Gala on November 15 at the New York Athletic Club’s Manhattan location. The remaining award winners will be honored at the 2018 USRowing Annual Awards Reception scheduled for December 8 as part of the 2018 USRowing Annual Convention in San Diego, Calif.

The athlete of the year awards will be announced the week of October 1, while the Jack Franklin Award, Joan Zandbergen “Mama Z” Award and Julian Wolf Award, which are voted on by referees, will be announced in mid-October.

For more information about the 2018 Golden Oars Gala, co-hosted by the National Rowing Foundation, click here. For more information about the USRowing Annual Convention, click here.

About the 2018 Award Winners

USRowing Medal of Honor – David A. Grant

Awarded to a member of the rowing community in the U.S. who has rendered conspicuous service to, or accomplished extraordinary feats in, rowing. It is the highest honor USRowing can bestow.

For more than 50 years, David A. Grant has composed a life and career as a renowned collegiate rowing coach, turning Orange Coast College crew, a two-year community college in California, into a major regional and national powerhouse. Competing against four-year universities and colleges, he coached crews to 11 national titles, with the Pirates winning over 80 percent of their races during his coaching tenure. Grant’s coaching experience includes taking his collegiate crews to the Henley Royal Regatta 11 times and the People’s Republic of China, where OCC became the first American crew to ever visit and compete. He served as a member of the U.S. coaching staff for rowing at the 1984 Olympic Games. In addition to coaching, Grant was a successful professor, associate dean of students and dean of students for several years before becoming the OCC’s fifth president on July 1, 1990, a position he held until January of 1996. Led by the powerful “all-in” mentality he has brought forward over the past 50-plus years, Grant has expanded access to the life-changing experience of rowing for many.

“There are no doubt countless other individuals in this great sport of rowing who are more deserving of this very generous surprise,” Grant said. “There are few things in life more special than to be honored by one’s friends — and rowing colleagues are especially appreciated. I am very grateful.”

Jack Kelly Award – Mitch Tamkin

Awarded to an outstanding individual who represents the ideals that Jack Kelly exemplified: superior achievements in rowing, service to amateur athletics, and success in their chosen profession, thereby serving as an inspiration to American rowers.

Mitch Tamkin began his rowing career while attending Kent School, where he earned the opportunity to row for two junior national teams. He continued on, dedicating hours to making boats go fast while attending the University of Pennsylvania, rowing for three years until suffering from a herniated disc. Since 2013, he has resided on the team’s board. In addition to starting two paper trading companies, Tamkin assisted in the formation and growth of Friends of Port Rowing, where he is now president. The program has evolved at a rapid pace, becoming the largest on Long Island. Since 2014, he has been a board member of the National Rowing Foundation, dedicating his time to promoting rowing and making the sport more accessible.

“I am thrilled, honored, and completely surprised to have been nominated and awarded such a prestigious award,” Tamkin said. “I have admired all of the previous recipients, and I feel privileged and extremely proud to be in their company.”

John J. Carlin Service Award – Beth Sala Covin

Awarded to honor an individual who has made significant and outstanding commitments in support of rowing.

Since housing her first USRowing Training Center athletes in 2010, Beth Covin has placed more than 75 national team rowers with temporary or permanent host families. A volunteer in the truest sense, she recognized the need for affordable housing and took it upon herself to develop, from scratch, a network of host families in Princeton, N.J. After moving to the Bay Area, she founded a similar network of host families and significantly contributed to the relocation of the men’s national team to Oakland, Calif. In addition to fostering a sense of community beyond the boathouse, her unrelenting support over multiple quadrenniums has made it financially feasible for many rowers to pursue their Olympic dreams.

“I’m not a rower; I married into rowing,” Covin said. “It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to become a host mom and to help rowers achieve their Olympic dreams. I’m thrilled and honored to be receiving this award.”

Anita DeFrantz Award – Jenn Junk

Awarded to an individual or organization achieving measurable success in expanding diversity opportunities in rowing.

Jenn Junk has tirelessly dedicated herself to Recovery on Water’s (ROW) mission, team members and the sport of rowing for over a decade. She co-founded the program in 2007 and has grown its reach to become the largest rowing program in the country serving breast cancer patients and survivors. Particularly strong at rallying the community around rowing, Junk rowed a boat around Lake Michigan in 2012, raising over $150,000 to purchase boats for the team. Despite setbacks, she chose to continue her journey by bike, cycling 600 miles before rowing the final leg of the trip and returning home after 59 days at “sea.” Additionally, she has worked with countless committees and city officials to help secure a permanent home for rowing on the south side of Chicago. Her passion for the sport, and for people in general, is infectious. Through teamwork and commitment, hundreds of women have transformed under her leadership, going from chemo treatments, hair loss and a near fatal diagnosis to seeing themselves as strong athletes for the first time in their lives.

“I’m honored to receive this award and honor from USRowing,” Junk said. “The women of ROW are my inspiration, and they remind me every day that sport has the power to change lives.”

Isabel Bohn Award – Pat Tirone

Awarded to an individual or organization achieving measurable success in expanding rowing opportunities for those with physical and intellectual disabilities.

Delta Sculling Center’s Pat Tirone (PT, DPT, EdD) is a pioneer in California’s adaptive rowing circles. As a physical therapist working with those facing life-changing disabilities, she recognized the lack of adaptive sporting opportunities in the area. Tirone founded Delta Sculling Center, “Where EveryBODY Sculls,” since those who require adaptations to ergs and boats could row beside those who do not. Over the past couple of years, Delta Sculling has added a Freedom Rows program for military vets suffering from PTSD and other war-related injuries. Tirone has pioneered many opportunities for “differently abled” scullers, making sure that the inclusive intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act is being carried out in rowing venues throughout California and elsewhere. Her next goal is to foster dialogue in our community about how we can make regattas and land rowing competitions truly inclusive. She intends on continuing to combine her expertise as a PT with her passion for sculling, so those who are differently abled can row alongside those who are “temporarily able bodied.”

“When I heard I was chosen for this award, I watched videos of Isabel [Bohn] and the recipients who followed her,” Tirone said. “These are the people who have mentored me and inspired me. None of the work I have done or intentions that I’ve had would have manifested without the amazing corps of volunteers that comprise DSC’s program for adaptive rowing, as well as our Board of Directors and, most importantly, my husband. I feel we should all get this award. Sometimes the uphill climb seems very long and even too challenging, but when one of our athletes shares with us what our work means to them, it catapults us upward. Receiving this award provides the same driving energy to keep on going, to continue to believe that we are contributing and making a difference. Thank you!”

Clayton Chapman Award – Mitch Budman

Awarded to an outstanding individual who emulates Clayton Chapman’s 30-year stewardship of the Eastern Sprints and IRA Championships. This person will have consistently served behind the scenes in unrecognized, but important roles, in staging a regatta.

Mitch Budman continues to operate behind the scenes at the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta, as he has done for 30 years. Budman continues to be the unsung hero – the “smarts” behind the continued success in making the regatta Philadelphia’s most inclusive and most successful. His constant, year-round efforts both on and off the water allow the Head of the Schuylkill to operate in the black, providing the regatta the opportunity to give back to underserved local communities and organizations that border the river. Budman currently serves on the executive committee and volunteer coaches at the University Barge Club, where he formerly served as president and treasurer. In 2017, he was invited to coach the U.S. team in the Maccabiah Games in Israel.

“As someone that tries to stay under the radar, this is a surprise and an honor,” Budman said. “To be part of the rowing community is pure enjoyment for me.”

Man of the Year – Steve Hargis

Awarded in recognition of outstanding contributions to men’s rowing and/or to an outstanding man in rowing.

Steve Hargis is best known as USRowing’s Director of Under 19 High Performance Programs, where has been responsible for the growth, programmatic changes, coach mentoring and long-term planning for the junior national teams since 2008. From 1999 to 2008, Hargis served as head coach of the junior women’s national team development camp, and from 2004 to 2008, he also served as head coach of the junior women’s national team. He has seen numerous podium finishes, including winning the first-ever gold medal for the U.S. in the women’s eight at the 2008 World Rowing Junior Championships in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria. In 2018, the U.S. team made history as it came away with two gold medals and seven total medals from the World Rowing Junior Championships.

“It is almost impossible to put into words how honored I am to receive this award,” Hargis said. “The last decade has been a great journey with amazing coaches and athletes that have all had a part in the evolution of the U19 program to an unprecedented level of success. I am proud of what we, collectively, have accomplished and know that the great Hart Perry, my mentor and friend, would be too. I look forward to seeing what the future has to offer, and I am excited to be part of such a great program.”

Ernestine Bayer Award – Nicole Marek

Awarded in recognition of outstanding contributions to women’s rowing and/or to an outstanding woman in rowing.

Nicole Marek began rowing at Grosse Ile High School, where she participated for three years before committing to Michigan State University. As senior captain at MSU, Marek stepped up in the wake of the scandal involving Larry Nassar, giving the rowing team and the university a voice. While breaking program erg records, she acted as spokesperson, advocate and a shoulder to cry on. She gathered teammates in hotel lobbies to write press releases and organized a meeting with the MSU Board of Trustees. As a result of Marek’s incredible leadership and compassion, policies have been changed to help protect current and future athletes at MSU and throughout the Big Ten. An All-Big Ten selection, CRCA National Scholar Athlete and participant at the U23 women’s selection camp, Marek is an ultimate role model for women in rowing, making it safer for rowers everywhere to succeed.

“There are no words to describe how incredibly honored I feel to be receiving this award,” Marek said. “I must also give credit to my fellow seniors and teammates at Michigan State University, who all stepped up and worked together to make our voices heard. We presented solutions and worked with the university to ensure changes were made and did so in a confident and professional way. From this experience, my hope is that all women and girls feel empowered to speak up for what is right.”

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