Josy Verdonkschot Writes a Letter

Josy Verdonkschot

27 May 2022

The other day, Dutch Coach Josy Verdonkschot, who was appointed USRowing’s Chief High Performance Officer on 23 December 2021, wrote an open letter to those involved in U.S. Rowing. He wrote:

Dear Athletes, Coaches, and Supporters,

With the NCAA Women’s Rowing Championships and the IRA National Championship taking place over the next two weekends, the foundation for our future national teams is being set on the waters of Benderson Park and Mercer Lake.

Many of you are already dreaming of putting on our national team unisuit and representing the U.S. at the world championships and Olympic Games. We look forward to seeing the best wear our national team crest in international racing. Others may not yet have considered this as an option, but I would encourage everyone to dream big, put in the work, and see where it may lead. There are opportunities out here for those who want to seize them.

As USRowing’s Chief High Performance Officer, I want to foster an environment where our top athletes can be identified, developed, and succeed both on and off the water. We are creating a state-of-the-art, athlete-centered, coach driven, safe, and sustainable high-performance environment with a clear pathway for athletes from the start to end of the athletic career and beyond.

In my open letter to the community back in January, I said that in order to change, we needed a thorough roadmap for this and the next quadrennium put together and owned by all of us – athletes, staff, and the rowing community. That roadmap is starting to come together.

Preparations for this year’s world championships in the Czech Republic are underway. Our two national selection regattas were held earlier this spring, and our first national team selection camps are wrapping up this week in preparation for World Rowing Cup 2 and the Henley Royal Regatta.

However, there are still opportunities for college athletes to be part of this year’s selection process. Following Henley, our final selection camp to put together boats for the 2022 World Rowing Championships will take place July 11-31. College athletes who are available for worlds through the end of September will be considered for invitation to the final selection camp. We rely on you – our great college coaches – to recommend the athletes you think are up to the challenge to compete for spots on this year’s squad.

Following worlds, we will turn our focus towards the Olympic qualification year. In November 2022, we will have Fall Speed Orders in the singles and pairs. This will include some testing and mixing into bigger boats. Based on those results, a two-week ID camp will follow immediately after the Speed Orders. We want to strongly encourage our college athletes to participate in the Fall Speed Orders, even if they are unable to stay for the ID camp, as this is an important part of the identification process.

In 2023, we will follow a similar format.

  • NSR in April, followed by the first selection camp (late April – mid May)
  • Final selection camp (late June – mid July, after the end of the college season) 
  • Fall Speed Orders and ID camp (late October – early November)

From there, the Olympic team will be built from the 2023 squad and additional identified athletes from the Fall Speed Orders and ID camp. This will be the final entry point to be considered for the camp-selected Olympic boats for 2024.

College rowing is the lifeblood of our national team program, and I encourage all our college athletes and coaches to become part of the national team identification process. We have the tradition and culture; we have the knowledge and talent. Let’s start turning those dreams into a reality. This is what rowing is about. I’m excited about our future for Paris 2024 and beyond and look forward to making that journey with many of you.


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