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High Expectations for High Performance Committee

Four high-profile leaders in the rowing world joined USRowing’s High Performance Committee in February, rounding out a team of six that looks to boost the United States’ results in international competition.

Harvard men’s heavyweight coach Charley Butt, former University of Washington coach and program director Bob Ernst, current Washington women’s coach Yaz Farooq, and New York Athletic Club rowing chairman Rob Milam join athletes Megan Kalmoe and Dan Walsh, whose terms wrap up later this year. Milam will serve as chair of the committee.

According to a press release, the board of directors chose to reform the committee with eyes toward 2020 and beyond after a high-performance task force reviewed results from the Rio Olympic Games. The move, it should be noted, came following the resignation of four board members. Not long after, longtime CEO Glenn Merry announced he would be stepping down effective April 15.

The new voices come at a time when the U.S. men look to reclaim spaces on the medal stand and the U.S. women hope to extend their unprecedented string of success. Additionally, the vote at FISA Congress in February to replace the lightweight men’s four with a women’s four gives the new committee more fodder for conversation in the months and years ahead.

“This group is qualified and, without a doubt, will lead us with insight and experience through the next quadrennial,” said Matt Imes, USRowing’s director of high performance.

Now in place, the committee is tasked specifically with helping “in the development and implementation of all plans and programs for identifying and selecting elite athletes to represent the United States in international competition.” Each new member has a resume befitting the task at hand.

Butt and Ernst each have coached in four separate Olympics, with Butt coaching Michelle Guerette to silver in the single in 2008 and Ernst guiding the U.S. women’s eight to gold in 1984. Farooq is a two-time Olympic coxswain and won four medals at world championships in the eight, including gold in 1995. Milam competed on two U.S. national teams in 2003 and 2011 and has managed rowing at NYAC since 2013.

USRowing’s new committee takes the reins as the United States prepares to host the world championships for the first time since 1994 in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida.

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