SARASOTA — Sarasota Crew rower Travis Taaffe has nothing but praise for the course at Nathan Benderson Park.
During last year’s USRowing Junior National Championships when competitors asked how it compared with other facilities across the country, Taaffe said they’d have to experience it for themselves to truly appreciate it.
Many of those rowers soon may have that chance — with a national title on the line.
Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates (SANCA) announced May 15 that Nathan Benderson Park has been chosen to host the 19th Annual USRowing Youth National Championships, which will be held June 12 to June 14, 2015.
“Having nationals in Sarasota is important because it will allow kids from around the country to be able to see the course and its development,” Taaffe says. “I know that it will be important for everyone who is or has been a part of Sarasota Crew to be able to go see nationals and cheer the team on. For the younger rowers, being able to witness a large event with the fastest teams in the country will help them have something to aspire to.”
The USRowing Youth National Championships signify the culmination of the rowing season and traditionally draw more than 1,500 athletes from 150 teams across the country. The event is an invitational championship regatta in which crews must qualify by placing in one of the 18 Youth National Championship events at a qualification regatta, such as last weekend’s USRowing Southeast Junior District Championships, and receive a bid.
“We are truly honored that Nathan Benderson Park was chosen to host this event, says Paul Blackketter, chief operating oOfficer for SANCA. “Having the park added to the venue circuit that USRowing and other top organizations use is a true success. It further positions us as a leading venue and will help us attract other major events in the future.”
Through a competitive bid process, Nathan Benderson Park was chosen for the venue itself as well as its staff.
USRowing has been a partner and supporter of Nathan Benderson Park since 2012. The park has already held five USRowing events, including the USRowing Southeast Junior District Championships May 10 and May 11.
“USRowing is extremely confident in the capabilities and management of SANCA. In our experience, this organizing committee exceeds expectations and delivers great events,” USRowing CEO Glenn Merry says. “Paul Blackketter and his team combine a tremendous new world-class venue with excellent volunteers, professionalism and great hospitality that results in a best-in-class experience for rowers.”
The Sarasota Crew men’s varsity 8+ won the national title last year and will seek to defend its title again this year. Both the Crew and Sarasota Scullers qualified boats for this year’s national championships in California.
Sarasota Scullers head coach Dragos Alexandru says securing the Youth Nationals event is another step toward fulfilling the vision of making the course one of the best in the nation.
“I am very happy that our team and others in the Southeast region have been able to be part of these national and international events. It is my hope that this venue will help establish Sarasota-Bradenton as the new mecca of rowing,” Alexandru says.
“Having national and international events held at Nathan Benderson Park is fantastic for the sport of rowing,” Sarasota Crew head coach Casey Galvanek says. “It helps keep the sport in the spotlight and keeps people aware and engaged. Interest is growing, and it’s great for our local kids.”
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].