Want to be a College Sailor?

Published on August 27th, 2015

Summer is ending in the USA, which means that many teen sailors are dealing with new challenges. For the high school senior, they are faced with determining what college to attend, and the qualification process for that school. For the college freshman, they are sorting out how to take this next step

John Pearce, George Washington University sailing coach, shares his tips for getting the most out of your college career….


You’ve made a great decision. For many college sailing alumni, it is the defining experience of their college years. Every school, team, and student are different, but if you invest time and effort into college sailing, you stand to add a huge amount of value and meaning to your undergraduate education. Plus, you’ll graduate as a way better sailor than you were four years before.

Assuming you know what a great opportunity college sailing represents, the question is: How do I go from an eager high school student to a fulfilled and successful collegiate student-athlete? More specifically, how do I navigate the college sailing recruiting process, and get off to a good start once after arriving on campus?

It’s a tricky question, but I’m here to help. Let’s start with the basics:

Academics and campus-life come first
The purpose of attending college is to get a degree that will prepare you for a successful and fulfilling life. Pretty boring right? Isn’t this a sailing magazine? Well, sorry. Make sure you do plenty of research into the academic offerings at every school you are considering. Even if you aren’t close to selecting a major, you probably have some hunches as to what subjects you’d like to study. When you are visiting various campuses, sit-in on classes in those areas and see if it feels right.

Along with classes and professors, finding the right academic environment also means a school with a campus culture that will encourage you to learn and grow. School size, campus location, and the personality of the student-body will play a big role in shaping your college experience. You should feel like you belong there. One of my coaching colleagues has a very direct way of explaining this to recruits: Look at the students here. If you come here, you will most likely be very much like them. Is that what you want? Recruiting comes in many forms.

One of the strengths of college sailing is the excellent student leadership involved at all levels, and there are a huge number of very successful student-led teams. Keep in mind that just because a team is un-coached, doesn’t mean they don’t recruit. You can still get tons of information from the student leaders of the team, and you’ll probably find that the student-led teams are the most outgoing, friendly, and passionate. They’ve invested tremendous effort into their team, and they know that its survival, growth, and success is in the hands of the next generation of talented and committed sailors. Make sure to get some quality face-time with the team’s leaders so you learn as much as possible about where the team is and where it is headed. You might find that it is a “diamond in the rough.”

Much more… full report.

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