August 10, 2023
The Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association is pleased to announce the eleven student-athletes selected by the CRCA Awards Committee as a final nominee to receive the prestigious “Athlete of the Year” Award for the 2023 Rowing Season.
In its second year, the Athlete of the Year award provides a unique opportunity for the CRCA to acknowledge and recognize the individual efforts, impactful actions, and remarkable outcomes achieved over the academic year—a span during which these student-athletes have undeniably left a positive impact on their respective teams.
This year, the awards committee received a remarkable pool of candidates nominated by their head coaches, who believed their student-athletes merit the prestigious award. These athletes not only contributed to their teams success, but they also embody the essence of being a top performer in a sport where individual recognition is so rare.
The CRCA is proud to announce the following as 2023 Athlete of the Year finalists:
Zara Collisson, Michigan “Zara stands as an outstanding candidate for CRCA Athlete of the Year due to her exceptional leadership and unwavering dedication to her sport. Leading by example, her work ethic, grit, and drive to succeed serve as a contagious source of inspiration for her teammates.”
Camille Vandermeer, Princeton “She pushes and encourages her teammates by example, always putting in the work needed to compete at the highest level. She switched sides three times when asked, both on our team and the U23 national team, and was successful despite how difficult we know that is!”
Azja Czajkowski, Stanford “Azja has been the cornerstone of our program for years. As much as I have valued her uncompromising work-ethic, internal drive and willingness to voice the standard, it’s how she treated her teammates and came back to lead this team that I will always remember.”
Ella Cossill, Washington “Ella Cossill is one of the best athletes I’ve had the privilege to coach in my career. Her competitive fire, relentless work ethic and leadership made it a no-brainer for her to stroke the varsity eight. Ella is a great role model for our program and our sport, and is truly deserving of this award.”
Margaret Hedeman, Yale“Maggie has always been a top athlete, she was a U19 world champ before she came to Yale and became a U23 world champ while at Yale and just made the USA Senior team. She is constantly trying to be her best, she is driven, focused and determined.”
Sofia Lorenzini, Embry-Riddle University “Sofia is the epitome of our student-person-player motto at Embry-Riddle. Two-time captain, sorority president, elected to student government leadership team, and all while studying Aerospace Engineering to be a legit rocket scientist!”
Macie Leach, Seattle Pacific University “Macie has been a constant source of speed, skill, leadership, and academic achievement for SPU Rowing. If rowing had a MVP, she’d be it considering her top erg score, skill on either side and in any seat, role as captain, and success as a nursing major. She is truly exemplifies the vision of a student-athlete who pursues competitive excellence in athletics and academics while also being a team player.”
Faith Brooks, University of Central Oklahoma “Faith’s contention for 2023 Athlete of the Year continues her legacy of strong academics in the classroom, service to the UCO/Edmond community plus contribution to the team that began when she joined UCO in the 2021 season. GNAC Freshman of the Year honors in ’21 in addition to helping UCO win its third National Championship as a member of the Varsity 8+, Faith earned All-GNAC team honors in ’22 and ’23 plus was selected to the All-American Second Team in’ 22 and First Team in ’23.”
Toriana Richards, Colby College “Tori lived our team’s core values of hard work, honesty, accountability, respect and humility, every day. She was the consummate teammate, committed to her teammates and to the process of putting in all the work necessary to achieve her goals. Her enthusiasm, infectious laugh, and understated tenacity, helped make the tough days better and the great days truly memorable.”
Allison Arndt, Ithaca College “Alli is one of the best (top 10) athletes that I have coached. With all of her successes and accolades, she has remained humble, dedicated and hard working. I have never had someone sit in the stroke seat of the varsity eight for three years. Yet, when I heard that Alli was coming back each of the past two years, I knew right where she would be sitting: back in the stroke seat. Alli’s career was disrupted by the pandemic, but in all that time away, her dedication never faded. When the NCAA Covid waiver was first announced, Alli instantly declared her intent to use her extra years of eligibility in full. Her hunger to improve and lead her team to the next level drove her to apply and get accepted to pre-elite summer programs in 2021 and 2022. I hope she pursues rowing because she can compete for Team USA.”
Anneka Hallstrom, Wellesley College “Anneka Hallstrom is a fierce competitor, a loyal teammate and a generous human. She has been a mainstay in the Wellesley Varsity 8+ since the fall of her first year. Wherever I have ever placed Anneka in the boat she simply makes any boat go faster by creating a positive and productive environment for her teammates and for simply pushing the standards ever higher, whether on the water or off the water. On top of all of her athletic and academic excellence, she is humble, thoughtful and so very kind to all around her. She will be very missed by all members of our team and coaching staff!”