Christopher Williford Awarded ISSA Bullivant Award
Published on December 22nd, 2015
The High School Sailing Board of Directors has unanimously awarded Christopher Williford the Stuart Bullivant Bowl for National Sportsmanship. Stuart Bullivant was an early mentor of school sailing, known for his sportsmanlike attitudes and teachings. The winner is then nominated for the US Sailing’s Van Alan Clark Sportsmanship Trophy, the national award for the sport of sailing in the United States
During the fall sailing season of 2012, St Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, FL) skipper Chris Williford was not feeling himself and shortly thereafter was diagnosed with Leukemia. In the fall of 2013, a perfect bone marrow match was found in Germany and Christopher underwent a successful surgery, along with heavy chemo treatments.
During the 2014-2015 high school sailing season, Chris slowly started to get back in the boat and throughout the season found himself back at the front of the fleet. St Thomas Aquinas qualified for the Interscholastic Sailing Association (ISSA) Doublehanded Nationals in Annapolis just as Chris found his stride. Not only was Chris back sailing at the national level, he dominated the event, winning A Division by 10 points. Chris is now a freshman on the Dartmouth University Sailing Team.
Chris became an inspiration to his fellow teammates through his can-do, never-give-up struggle which in turn inspired sailors throughout the South Atlantic Interscholastic Sailing Association District. Many other ISSA sailors had competed against Christopher before he became ill and were cheering him on once back on the water.
After the ISSA Nationals, Chris got back into the 29er and competed in the 2015 29er Worlds, finishing 3rd overall out of 219 teams. His sportsmanship on the water during the Worlds earned the respect of his fellow competitors who were unaware of his background until the story was published on Scuttlebutt after the event.