For Immediate Release

Ed Levin
Publicity Director
Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta

Philadelphia, PA – As Taylor Roberts navigated her way down the 2,000-meter course at the 2018 Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta passing the crowd lining the banks of the Schuylkill River, she tried to soak in the moment of rowing in the largest collegiate regatta.

As she crossed the finish line to become  the first para-rower to do it at the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta, the main thing Roberts began to think about is what she just accomplished and all of the people who made this experience possible, especially her coach Tim Nesselrodt.

“If it weren’t for my coach I would not be where I am today,” said Roberts, who was presented with a Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta medal upon completion. He has dedicated countless hours of time and effort into helping create new opportunities for me to compete and excel in the sport of para rowing. He is one of my biggest supporters and has never stopped advocating not only on my behalf, but also on behalf of all para rowers. Pushing for equality in sport is the hill he has chosen to die on and being able to represent him and his organization, Richmond Community Rowing, has meant the world to me, especially being able to do so in a prestigious regatta such as the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta.”

Looking to grow this category and eventually have it count toward the overall point total, the Dad Vail Regatta Organizing Committee (DVROC) recently appointed Roberts as the para-rowing coordinator. 

“I didn’t expect the phone call or the opportunity at all, to be completely honest,” said Roberts when asked about being named para-rowing coordinator. “When they asked for my help, of course I didn’t hesitate to accept because I knew I wanted to recreate the same experience I had had the year prior for other athletes. Being able to be a part of the change and pursuit of sport equality has brought everything full circle and I’m unbelievably grateful for the opportunity.”

Roberts, who was injured in a car accident four years ago when another driver ran a stop sign and collided with her car. She sustained two fractures to her spine leaving her paralyzed 

from the waist down.

Roberts was 20 years old at the time of this traumatic event and worried that she wouldn’t be able to return to the active lifestyle she had been so accustomed to. That was, until she was introduced to rowing.  

“Nearly two years after my injury, I found rowing,” said Roberts. “Getting in a boat for the first time opened my eyes to a world of possibility. Up until that point, I had been weighed down by my disability, but rowing changed my perspective entirely. I was able to embrace my ability, instead of feeling limited by it. From that first day on, I began to accomplish things I never thought possible. One of which was being the first para rower in the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta.”

In the short time since Roberts has served as the Regatta’s para-rowing coordinator, she has played a major role in attracting several colleges, clubs and organizations to participate in the this year’s regatta including Athletes Without Limits, Capital Rowing, Row New York, Lake Braddock Crew, Washington College, George Mason University, Cleveland State University, Gordon College, Georgetown University and Seattle University.

“We are pleased that Taylor Roberts, who for the first time, last year, was our first participant to inaugurate para-rowing at the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta, is serving as Director of Para-Rowing,” said Jim Hanna, President of the Dad Vail Regatta Organizing Committee.  “We are grateful to entrust to Taylor the leadership responsibilities attendant to initiating a new Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta endeavor. 

The 81st annual Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta, presented by Independence Blue Cross, Coca-Cola and PECO will be staged on Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11 on the banks of the historic Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.

About: :>
Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) is a leader in transdisciplinary, experiential professional education. Jefferson, home of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College and the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, is a comprehensive university delivering high-impact education in 160 undergraduate and graduate programs to 7,800 students in architecture, business, design, engineering, fashion, health, medicine, science and textiles. Jefferson is reimaging the higher education value proposition with an approach that is collaborative and active; increasingly global; integrated with industry; focused on research across disciplines to foster innovation and discovery; and technology-enhanced. Student-athletes compete as the Jefferson Rams in the NCAA Division II Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.


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