New York City, N.Y. – The Intercollegiate Rowing Coaches Association (IRCA) revealed the names of the 2023 Empacher-IRCA Scholar-Athletes on Tuesday afternoon (June 20). Five outstanding St. Mary’s College of Maryland men’s rowing team members earned their well-deserved spots on the prestigious list. These individuals have exemplified the true essence of being a “student-athlete.”

Earlier this year, the IRCA announced Empacher Bootswerft as the official sponsor for these esteemed awards. The partnership has brought about greater recognition and support for student-athletes achievements in the rowing community.

Among the recipients from St. Mary’s College were junior Elias Howe (Adelphi, Md./Reservoir), senior Sam Leaman (Gaithersburg, Md./Walter Johnson), and sophomores Chris Nemes (Rockville, Md./Rockville), Hank Russell (Guilford, Conn./Guilford), and Hayden Wolinski (Bel Air, Md./Home-schooled). Each individual has demonstrated exceptional dedication and excellence both on and off the water.

This marks Sam Leaman’s third consecutive selection as an IRCA Scholar Athlete, a remarkable achievement that highlights his consistent commitment to academic and athletic excellence.

To qualify as a “scholar-athlete,” rowers and coxswains must meet specific criteria outlined by the IRCA:

  1. Athletes must be enrolled in an IRCA member school.
  2. Athletes must have completed at least two years of eligibility.
  3. Athletes must have participated in their program’s top three boats during the current season or competed in the 2022 IRA Championship.
  4. Athletes must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or higher through the fall semester.

In addition to his Empacher-IRCA Scholar-Athlete recognition, Sam Leaman was also awarded the MARC All-Academic award, further showcasing his outstanding academic achievements.

The St. Mary’s College quintet was part of an exceptional group of 638 rowers and coxswains who met the rigorous criteria established by the Awards & Polling Committee. This year’s figure represents an impressive 22% increase from the previous year’s 525 honorees, highlighting the growing significance of academic achievements within the rowing community. The average GPA among the recipients stands at an impressive 3.75.

The Intercollegiate Rowing Coaches Association (IRCA), established in 2020, provides a collaborative platform for coaches of men’s varsity programs to exchange ideas and address issues related to the advancement, preservation, and continued growth of the coaching profession and men’s collegiate rowing in the United States. Their commitment to recognizing and celebrating student-athletes’ accomplishments has played a vital role in fostering a thriving rowing community.

The Awards and Polling Committee, comprising coaches from various divisions of men’s collegiate rowing, works in collaboration with the Intercollegiate Rowing Association. They oversee the sport’s weekly polls during the competitive spring season. The committee’s primary objective is to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and success of athletes and coaches through their annual awards. These accolades include honors such as All-Americans, Scholar Athletes, and Coach and Staff of the Year in Division I, Division III, and Lightweight categories.

The recognition bestowed upon these five St. Mary’s College of Maryland men’s rowing team members is a testament to their unwavering commitment to excellence both in the classroom and on the water. Their achievements highlight the strong culture of academic and athletic success.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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