John Pearce to Lead New US Youth Department

Published on August 3rd, 2016

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John Pearce

Portsmouth, RI (August 3, 2016) – US Sailing, the National Governing Body of the sport, has hired John Pearce as the organization’s Youth Director, following an expansive three month search to fill the new position.

The former varsity sailing head coach at George Washington University will lead US Sailing’s Youth Department, with the goal of working with key stakeholders in youth sailing from around the country to develop highly skilled young sailors by providing multiple pathways with innovative and world-class programs and services, instruction and coaching.

These pathways will guide young sailors from their introduction to the sport to advanced seamanship skills, and from beginning racing to regional, national, high school and college competition, and the entry points to international and Olympic sailing.

“John has an impressive background in sailing and racing and has worked closely with our USA Junior Olympic events and Junior National Championships as a coach and mentor for younger coaches,” said Jack Gierhart, Executive Director of US Sailing. “He is highly respected in the youth and college sailing communities and we know his knowledge and energy will be a great fit for this role. We are excited to get started.”

In 2015, US Sailing identified the need for a comprehensive youth sailing strategy that would support local sailing organizations and other key stakeholders in youth sailing to encourage the development of talented and passionate young sailors to advance their skills and capabilities to achieve success internationally, and embed a lifelong love for the sport.

A group led by US Sailing Vice President Cory Sertl, including staff and volunteers from Championships, Olympics and Training, parents and the industry developed a framework, outlined a set of goals, strategies and measurements to enable US Sailing to launch an effective youth sailing strategy that builds on the strengths of existing programs.

“US Sailing is uniting behind a common vision for youth sailing and youth racing by promoting multiple pathways to becoming lifelong sailors,” said Sertl. “Sailing is a lifetime sport and we can provide the leadership, guidance, expertise and resources to the organizations, instructors and coaches that teach young people how to experience the sport in many different ways.”

John has served as the Lead Coach for six USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival Skill Builder Clinics over the past three years. He has also been a coach for US Sailing at several US Sailing National Championships over the past 10 years, including the U.S. Youth Sailing Championships, Chubb U.S. Junior Sailing Championships, U.S. Junior Women’s Singlehanded and Doublehanded Championships.

“As a young sailor, I benefited from the guidance and support of so many passionate and knowledgeable sailors,” said Pearce. “My junior sailing instructors in Ithaca (New York) made sailing an exciting and fun sport for me and my peers, and my college sailing coaches and teammates fostered a love for high-level racing. Our sport is full of fantastic role models, and I’m excited for the opportunity to work with the whole community to lead the next generation of young American sailors toward success and fun on the water.”

Pearce was the first-ever head coach of the George Washington sailing program, which was elevated from club to varsity status beginning in 2012-13. In just his third year at the helm of the new varsity program in 2014-15, he guided the Colonials to a historic season of firsts – including the team’s first-ever appearances in the national coed and women’s rankings, as well as the team’s first-ever berth to women’s nationals, where the women’s team finished 13th in the country.

In 2015-16, George Washington surpassed those marks, capturing the first titles in program history with the MAISA Women’s Fall and MAISA Women’s Spring Championships. The Colonials went on to earn berths in both the women’s nationals, finishing 10th, and coed nationals, finishing 17th.

Prior to coming to George Washington, Pearce spent three seasons from 2007-10 as co-head coach of the Dartmouth University varsity sailing team. In his three years at Dartmouth, Pearce led the Big Green to two appearances at the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) National Championships, including an eighth place finish at the 2009 Women’s National Championship.

A 2004 graduate of Hobart College, Pearce stayed on as an assistant coach for Hobart and William Smith Colleges for the 2004-05 season and helped the Statesmen and Herons claim the National Championship at both the ICSA Team Racing and ICSA Coed National Championships that year.

Pearce moved on to spend a year as assistant coach at Stanford University in 2005-06. He then spent 2006-07 as head high school and race team coach at the San Francisco Yacht Club.

A native of Ithaca, N.Y., Pearce was a two-time All-American at Hobart, earning First Team Coed Skipper accolades as a senior and Honorable Mention Coed Skipper recognition as a junior.

Pearce was also a member of the 2005 and 2006 US Sailing Teams, and placed fifth out of 33 sailors at the 2007 US Sailing Olympic Team Trials in the Laser Class.

Source: Jake Fish, US Sailing

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