Two years ago, Jack DiGiovanni ’24 was cut from his first U.S. Men’s rowing camp, failing to make the roster. This summer, he won a silver medal as part of the U-23 men’s national team and was named the 2023 USRowing Under 23 National Team Male Athlete of the Year.
DiGiovanni began rowing in 2014 for Pittsford Crew as a coxswain, the leader of the boat. When he started at Brown in 2019, DiGiovanni was charged with helping lead an already successful team that had finished sixth in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships the year prior.
“As a freshman, he didn't have a whole lot of experience,” said Men’s Crew Head Coach Paul Cooke. In 2020, when collegiate teams were not competing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DiGiovanni “was wondering what he should do … and we suggested that he might actually just go out and basically shadow the Olympic team,” Cooke explained.
DiGiovanni always tries to “go the extra mile,” Cooke said.
Upon his return from a gap year shadowing the Olympic team during the 2020-21 academic year, DiGiovanni was selected as an Intercollegiate Rowing Coaches Association All-American second team coxswain and second team All-Ivy.
In 2022, DiGiovanni was able to put his team on the podium at the National Championship for the first time in eight years. “He's really grown from somebody who was … very weary of his ability, to somebody who's an indispensable leader on the team,” said teammate Ian Burnett ’24.
“He's really a coach inside the boat,” said Burnett. “Not every coxswain is capable enough to play that role.”
DiGiovanni credits a lot of his growth to his teammates and coaches, who have worked to cultivate a positive “team-first” attitude.
DiGiovanni has become a strong leader in the boat for both Bruno and the US Men’s Under 23 team. While his teammates at Brown are his “best friends and family,” the national team is “a more professional environment,” he said.
“It's kind of cutthroat,” explained Burnett, who is also a member of the national team. “There's a lot of tension because you don't know who's gonna get seat-raced with whom throughout the practice, and there's always that (feeling of) not knowing where you stand.”
Burnett and DiGiovanni were both selected to go to Bulgaria to compete in an international competition this past summer, a race DiGiovanni would have watched from the sidelines while he shadowed the Olympic team three years prior.
The men’s team placed third in their heat qualifying round, missing a direct route to the finals earned by the top two placing boats. The early lack of success for the team was a mental blow and proved their initial strategy was ineffective.
Despite the loss, DiGiovanni was determined to advance to the finals, leading him to develop a different tactic. The team spent a lot of time “discussing how (they) were going to get in front early,” Burnett said. “That seemed to be what we needed to do.”
DiGiovanni helped the boat make a collective decision “to go all out for the first half and try and hang on at the end,” and lead his team through the race plan, Burnett said.
This new strategy ultimately led to the U.S. men’s under 23 team winning a silver medal.
“You're representing your country,” DiGiovanni said. “We went there, it was really tough, the race was really close and we won a silver medal.”
DiGiovanni’s victory on the international stage led to his selection as the 2023 USRowing Under 23 National Team Male Athlete of the Year.
“I feel super blessed just to be a part of that group and then also to be recognized as one of the top people in that group is huge,” DiGiovanni said. “I have to say thank you to my teammates and all of the people that have gotten me there.”
Looking forward to the upcoming season, DiGiovanni hopes to continue Bruno’s success from 2022 using his experience from the international competition.
“That’s what I’ve tried to do last year and then this year: Bring the experience I had in the summer into the team and try to really raise the standard and … caliber that we perform at to an even higher level,” he said.
Dennis Carey is a sports senior staff writer for The Brown Daily Herald. He previously contributed to the Arts and Culture section. In his spare time, he enjoys watching Atlanta sports and collecting vinyl records.