Processing what you can’t control

Published on April 3rd, 2020

Michael Houllahan

Michael Houllahan (Winchester, MA), Class of 2020, shares a message for his teammates at George Washington University in Washington, DC. However, as we look at his words, we see his sentiment extending far beyond campus.


Dear GW Sailing,
(April 2, 2020) – The last two weeks have been anything but expected, especially for us seniors. As we began our spring semesters, we had a list of goals, expectations, and a roadmap for success. We hoped that the lessons learned from the fall could bridge into our best practices in the spring and that we could set our sights on Nationals in New Orleans, Louisiana.

But on the night before one of our biggest weekend competitions of the year, everything changed for the sailing team, the Athletics Department, the George Washington University, and the world.

It has been hard to put into words how we felt as we watched everything unravel over the course of just a few days. At first, it was disbelief. ‘How could they cancel this weekend’s regattas?’ we said in our team’s group text. Then, just hours later, ‘How could they postpone until after our National qualifier on April 5th?’. With each new message, the feelings in the pits of our stomachs got deeper and deeper.

While we knew that the situation was dire, we held out hope—whether it was for our spring break training with those that felt comfortable staying on campus or simply for Nationals in the beginning of June. As we have come to terms with the reality that our spring season and collegiate sailing careers are now over, we look back at our time on the GW Sailing team with nothing but gratitude and love.

Athletics at GW, and particularly sailing, has led to a lot of structure for all of our teammates. We have a rigorous practice schedule, and weekend competitions that span for nearly the entire year. It is for that reason that we have built an unbreakable bond with the members of our team, both current and alumni.

They are our closest friends, and when we imagined ourselves crossing the finish line, graduating on the National Mall, or after our last race at Nationals, it would be with all of them in mind. Our best memories, friendships, and lessons learned in life would be because of our teammates, coaches, and friends.

It is not the sailing that we will miss most; it is the van rides, the jokes at meetings, and simply spending time with our teammates. The hardest aspect to process has been completely out of our control. While the situation was much larger than any team or season, it undoubtedly still hurts knowing that the ‘new normal’ is anything but.

At some point, we must look forward, with the optimism and energy that brought us here, some three and a half years later. We know that our team is built upon the underclassmen, and that success is a certainty in years to come.

While there have been many things out of our control over the past two weeks, I know that Sarah, Aitana and I will be there supporting and watching our team continue to grow in the years to come.

Raise High,

Michael Houllahan

Tags: , , , ,



Back to Top ↑

Get Your Sailing News Fix!

Your daily or weekly download by email.

Subscribe - In popup

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We’ll keep your information safe.