The voice of the United States at the 2017 U-23 World Rowing Championships belongs to a kid from Cleveland, Ohio. A former standout coxswain for Saint Ignatius Crew and rising senior at Syracuse University, Dominic Santora ’14 is taking his talents to the Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
“It’s a huge honor representing Cleveland and specifically Saint Ignatius at the highest level,” he says. “In Cleveland, we are known for football and baseball, so I'm just trying to put Cleveland on the rowing scene.”
Santora and his crew, the U.S. Men’s 8+, will look to improve on last year’s 10th-place finish at the event. And yet, even being selected for the signature crew is an achievement.
“The selection process was rough. Specifically speaking to coxswains it was just me and another kid, so we were going head to head everyday trying to adjust to what our coach wants,” he says. “But in general we pretty much had three practices a day for 25 straight days. Of course we had a practice off here and there, but it was literally eat, sleep, row.”
The role of coxswain is critical, but perhaps underappreciated by non-rowers. Santora’s job is to steer the boat, motivate the rowers, make in-race adjustments and corrections, execute a race strategy and respond to the moves made by competitors.
His abilities in the coxswain seat have earned him many medals over the years, and in June helped Syracuse achieve its highest finish at the IRA National Championship since 2012. Along with two other Ignatius alumni—Andrew Reichard ’13 and Matt Barni ’15—their boat finished eighth in the country.
Santora credits much of his success to the skills he honed at Saint Ignatius.
“At Ignatius the program gave me a sense of leadership and maturity. As you know there are freighters on the river so I was always in charge of getting into safety zones—that really seasoned me with responsibility. And also I was able to compete at a high level in high school so I never felt overwhelmed,” he says.
“As a coxswain the changes I make aren't always noticeable and the work is more behind-the-scenes. So I am proud of where all my hard work has gotten me.”
Although the crew leaves soon to represent the United States overseas, a little more work is required. The team will continue practicing in the coming weeks, as well as fundraising to offset the costs of the trip. Click here support Santora and his boat.
Stay tuned for results from Bulgaria. Good luck, Dominic, and Let’s Go Cats!