Winnetka, Sports

Recent NTHS grad is USRowing Athlete of the Year

A record-breaking rower, Jack Skinner had little left to prove at New Trier High School. But across the country? He’s just getting started.

His talents were recognized in August by USRowing, which named Skinner the Under 19 National Team Male Athlete of the Year. Skinner, who has rowed on the U19 national team for two years, was selected by his coaches and national teammates, according to USRowing.

To Skinner, the honor has plenty of meaning.

“Ever since I saw the last people who got the award turn out to be solid rowers in college and have success, I really wanted to be part of the honor,” he told The Record. “It’s a huge achievement for me. I have wanted it the past two summers.”

Skinner has already built an impressive resume. He was a leader on New Trier Rowing’s top varsity boat that placed fifth at the USRowing Youth Nationals in June. He also holds the program’s record in the 6,000-meter row at 19 minutes 44.8 seconds (accomplished on an ergometer).

Jack Skinner (top row, third from right) was instrumental in the success of New Trier Rowing’s top varsity boat. | Photo Submitted

Skinner was vital in one of the most successful seasons in New Trier Rowing history. He credits much of his success to taking risks, like going down to Florida two years ago to row with a new team and then joining up with the national team.

“I just kept sticking with (rowing) and putting myself out there, doing things that seem uncomfortable,” he said. “… I knew to be great you have to do uncomfortable things.”

A 2022 NTHS grad, Skinner is now a freshman rower at the University of California-Berkeley. He hopes to compete for a spot on the school’s travel team but knows it won’t be simple.

It’s difficult to second guess him. Competition fuels Skinner, like it did his senior year at New Trier, when he and John Salvi, now a Stanford rower, traded record-setting erg times. Salvi took it first, breaking a decade-old mark with a 19:54.4. Then, Skinner went 19:52.9. Salvi fired back with a 19:52.4 before Skinner got the last word with his 19:52.4.

In a statement to USRowing after winning the Athlete of the Year award, Skinner thanked his New Trier coaches, as well as the ones who nurtured his love for the sport, siblings Peter and Hanna and his parents.

“I am very honored and humbled to receive this award. I am grateful for amazing coaches who have made this possible,” he said. “Most importantly, my New Trier High School coaches, Nate Kelp-Lenane and Josip Stolar, as well as my national team coaches, Cary Wasserman and Erik Gehrke.

“I would also like to thank my family for making my rowing career possible. A special acknowledgment goes to my parents for their continued support, to my sister, Hanna, for first introducing our family to the sport of rowing, and to my brother, Peter, for his mentorship and for always inspiring me to be the best rower, teammate and competitor I can be.”

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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