Nov. 18, 2014
WASHINGTON - Tony Johnson, Georgetown's longtime director of rowing and current coach emeritus, has been named the recipient of the 2014 USRowing Medal. The award, which recognizes Johnson's dedication to the sport and his accomplishments as an athlete and coach, will be presented at the Golden Oars Awards Dinner in New York City on Thursday, November 20.
The USRowing Medal is the highest honor the organization can bestow. It is given in recognition to a member of the rowing community in the United States who has rendered conspicuous service to, or accomplished extraordinary feats in rowing.
"It is so difficult to put such a special award as this into perspective," Johnson said of the honor. "I am gratefully humbled and terribly pleased at the same time.
"Following the lead of the legendary Charlie Butt, I have taken delight in rowing every day of my life. It is a sport that entices one to give back, as is apparent by the number of individuals who work selflessly on behalf of crew. I am happy to say that I too was similarly enticed by rowing over the course of the past 60 years."
Johnson first coached the Georgetown crew from 1967-69 before moving on to Yale University, where he coached for 20 years. He returned to the Hoyas in 1990 to manage the rowing program and guide the varsity heavyweight men.
Johnson's rowers earned gold for three-straight years at the Champion Regatta in the mid-1990s. In 1993, his heavyweight four earned a national championship medal at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Regatta. Several have earned post-collegiate accolades on a national level.
As director of rowing on the Hilltop, Johnson oversaw significant growth of the program off of the water as well, strengthening the foundation for even greater success in the future. He has helped to secure more than $18 million in financial support over the past 15 years.
His coaching achievements at Yale include the 1982 national championship, several Eastern Sprint titles and two junior varsity titles at the Henley Royal Regatta. He was named Eastern Coach of the Year in 1982.
Johnson received the Joy of Sculling Lifetime Achievement Award in December 2013. The award is given to a figurehead of rowing who has made a permanent and lasting contribution to the sport of rowing.
He began his rowing career under the legendary Charlie Butt at Washington-Lee High School and continued to row at Syracuse University and Potomac Boat Club. A two-time Olympian, Johnson earned a silver medal in the pairs at the 1968 Olympics and gold medals at the 1967 and 1969 European championships. He served as an assistant U.S. Olympic rowing coach in 1972.
"Tony Johnson represents all that is good about sport and coaching," said Georgetown Director of Athletics Lee Reed. "It is only fitting that he be honored with the USRowing Medal of Honor in recognition of his distinguished service to the sport of rowing and for the transformative impact he has had on a generation of young men who benefitted from his holistic approach to education, training and character formation."