Iverson, Francia Honored by USRowing

PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania's women's rowing program was well-represented at the USRowing Convention's Annual Awards Reception, which took place Friday, Dec. 3 in Tampa, Fla. The program's original head coach, Joanne W. Iverson, was given the Ernestine Bayer Award (formerly the Woman of the Year Award), while 2004 graduate Susan Francia was named the USRowing Female Athlete of the Year in a vote of her peers. Both honors had been announced in November.

Click here for more information on Joanne Iverson's award

Click here for more information on Susan Francia's award

"I am really happy for both Susan and Joanne -- Susan being voted by her teammates to be the athlete of the year, and Joanne for being recognized for her amazing accomplishments for women's rowing," said Penn's current head coach of women's rowing, Mike Lane. "Both of these awards are a direct reflection of the history and success we continue to work on creating here at Penn.

"Being able to travel to Florida to support both of these amazing women was truly an honor for me in my role as head coach. Congratulations to both for their accomplishments and continued support of our program."

The first women's rowing coach at Penn, Iverson is currently president of the Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia and co-founder of the National Women's Rowing Association. She was one of the driving forces behind the addition of women's rowing to the Olympic Games, efforts she described in her 2009 book, An Obsession With Rings. Iverson was a member of the initial United States Women's Olympic Rowing Committee and an appointee to President Gerald Ford's Commission on Olympic Sports, serving with Rafer Johnson on the rowing subcommittee. She managed the first U.S. Women's Rowing Team at the World Championships in Moscow, as well as the first U.S. Olympic Women's Rowing Team in Montreal.In 2007, she was inducted into the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Women's Rowing Hall of Fame. Iverson is the founder and president of two technology firms, Iverson Associates and Iverson Gaming Systems.

Francia, a six-time national team member and 2008 Olympic gold medalist, won a bronze medal in the women's pair at the 2010 World Rowing Championships. The University of Pennsylvania graduate also won gold in the eight and took silver in the pair at the 2010 Rowing World Cup stop in Lucerne, Switzerland, and bronze in the pair at the 2010 Rowing World Cup stop in Bled, Slovenia. Francia shared the award with a male counterpart, Giuseppe Lanzone.

"It's a real honor to be named Athlete of the Year by my peers," Francia told USRowing. "I hope I have helped my teammates along the way -- if they needed rowing advice, a pick-me-up or just a laugh. It's kind of cool to be in this leadership position. I hope I have been a good role model and pushed my teammates to be better."