26-year old, Sam Ojserkis, is the coxswain of USRowing’s men’s eight team. This year at the Olympics in Rio, he led his team to a fourth place finish. The New Jersey resident has also competed with the eight team in the Pan American Games, the World Rowing Under 23 Championships and the World Cup II. We spoke with him during a public appearance at the 2016 Head of the Schuylkill Regatta in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
What’s it like being the leader and at the helm of the men’s eight as a coxswain?
Ojserkis: I’m not there alone. I wouldn’t say I’m the leader. I make some decisions, but the guys have a say in it too. It’s an honor that I got to compete for America with those guys and hopefully they would say the same.
Have you rowed at Nathan Benderson Park? If so, what was your opinion?
I was down there in the winter of 2015. For a man made course, it’s pretty great. To have a FISA certified course in America is pretty special.
When you were down there, what was your opinion of the Sarasota-Bradenton area?
The biggest thing was the community. Florida isn’t known for rowing as much as places like, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, and Philly, but the whole Sarasota area has really embraced rowing and they understand the sport. That’s great to see.
After a 23-year hiatus, how special is it that the United States will be hosting the World Rowing Championships?
It’s exciting and it’s a dream as an athlete. There have been hundreds if not thousands of athletes that haven’t competed on home soil before. It’s a major draw for my teammates to come back and compete in America.
What are your plans for 2017 Will we see you at the Championships?
I’m not sure yet. I’m asking myself the same question.