USRowing is pleased to announce that Michelle Sechser has been named the 2022 Carie Graves Female Athlete of the Year, while Ben Davison has been named the 2022 Male Athlete of the Year.
Selected by the athletes and coaches of the senior national team that competed at the 2022 World Rowing Championships in Racice, Czech Republic, Sechser and Davison will be recognized during the 2022 Golden Oars Celebration.
A 10-time national team member, Sechser and her partner, Molly Reckford, won the silver medal in the lightweight women's double sculls in Racice. Sechser and Reckford formed their partnership last year, winning the Olympic Trials and the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta before going on to finish fifth at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, setting an American record time in the semifinal. At this year's world championships, the duo was able to make that next step onto the medal stand. Sechser and Reckford also won the second World Rowing Cup race in Poznan, Poland, and the Stonor Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta in 2022.
"It has always been an honor to be a part of the U.S. Women's National Team, a group that has produced so many strong, unrelenting, and high-performing women over the years," Sechser said. "But this year, it has felt special in a different way. There was a lot of rebuilding, restructuring, and regrouping to be done after the Tokyo Olympics for those who chose to carry on. The USRowing organizational structure was in flux, coaches were leaving, and the results were still hard to swallow, but the women of USRowing have chosen to rise again. Since we returned from Tokyo, we've leaned on each other. We've talked openly at the training center about the training environment we want to create, the accountability and sportsmanship we want to hold each other to, and the negative aspects from previous Olympic cycles that need to end. Claire (Collins) and Maddie (Wanamaker) led the way with their work ethic and race results, all while lifting up their teammates around them. Molly and I made an active commitment together that we wanted to not just be good teammates to each other but to the women we were training with and to lead the proverbial "hype train." It's so easy to live in a silo of your own boat class, so it was important to us to cheer for our teammates, work with the other boat classes at practice when we could, and check in on how people were doing. It has been great to see the women lean on each other through this building year and stay committed towards their goals for Paris, even when the speed doesn't magically appear as quickly as we want it to."
The Female Athlete of the Year Award was renamed in honor of the late Carie Graves, who passed away late last year.
"My hope is that other female athletes in the rowing community will carry on these ideals - lean on your teammates, stick together when things get hard, and know that your attitude and your effort are two things you're in control of every day that you show up for practice or racing," Sechser said. "Thank you so much for honoring me with the Female Athlete of the Year award, and thank you to the women who made this season so much fun."
Davison, a 13-time national team member across the under 19, under 23, and senior levels, finished eighth in the men's single sculls at the 2022 World Rowing Championships, recording the best finish for a U.S. men's single sculler since Don Smith also finished eighth at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Earlier in the season, Davison won a bronze medal in the single at the 2022 World Rowing Cup race in Poznan and raced in The Diamond Sculls Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta. Domestically, Davison won the single at the first 2022 National Selection Regatta.
"I am honored to be receiving this award. There was no shortage of incredibly talented athletes on the team this year, so to be voted Athlete of the Year by my peers is particularly special," Davison said. "On the whole, I was happy enough with how the season went in the single. While I was fairly disappointed with how I finished up at the world championships, there were plenty of positives that could be taken away throughout the season. The main objective for the season was to get an honest assessment of where I stood against the top guys after a full year in the single. Now that we have that, it's clear to me that I have plenty of work to do, but we are on the right track."
USRowing previously announced the 2002 Under 23 National Team Athletes of the Year and the 2022 Under 19 National Team Athletes of the Year. The 2022 USRowing Beach Sprint Finals Athletes of the Year will be announced following completion of those championships this weekend.