Fall Sailing, School and the Life of a Teen Sailor

Sometimes when people first hear my story they comment on what a great life I live, sailing every day and training for the Olympics at 16 years old.  And you know what? They are right, my life is great.  I am doing what I love to do and have opportunities that most people in this sport never get to experience.  I am living the life of a teen sailor!

David and Katie at Oakcliff

I have found that sometimes when you look from afar at a situation, it looks to be all smooth sailing in calm seas. Have you ever looked out at the sea from a cliff and said “wow, it’s going to be a great day for a sail”, only to leave the dock and spend the day getting tossed around the boat by confused and angry waters? I thought I would take a few minutes to explain what the life of this 16 year old sailor looks like up close and in person.

To start with, I am 16 years old. At 16, life is difficult all by itself.  Girls, highschool, planning for college, dealing with parents, struggling with minimal finances and the strong desire to do nothing but sleep and eat are constantly driving all 16 year old boys crazy. But on top of all of this, I have added the stress of sailing an Olympic campaign in the NACRA 17. At points in my day/week/month/year, this is enough to make me nearly break down and scream “it’s just too much”! But in reality I know that I love the life I am living and I would not want to live any other way.

Since I just got done with a US Sailing Team practice at our new Training Facility at Oakcliff Sailing Center in Oyster Bay, New York, I am back in Cleveland for a couple days trying to plan my fall semester. Actually, school (Florida Virtual School) started for me last Monday, so I am trying to catch up to the class and get a little ahead (stress) at the beginning of the year. Here are some of the things that I am dealing with:

To start with, I am sailing an expensive Olympic program in my attempts to become the top sailor in the country and win the US Olympic berth in this class. Since I do not have a job, I have to raise funds to pay for everything I am doing. Coaching, travel, equipment, sails, boats, fuel, food and hopefully a little down-time entertainment. Can you picture a 16 year old sitting in front of a Fortune 500 CEO asking for thousands of dollars? Not an easy thing to do to say the least! I have to raise $1,440 each and every day to keep my campaign afloat. That is at least two hours of phone calls plus emails and meetings (when they agree to meet with me) each and every day of my life.  There is no time off from fundraising for this athlete! On that topic, did you know that individual contributions make up most of my campaign? You can help by making a donation at the bottom of this page.  Every dollar given helps more than you can imagine!

I am looking at a US Sailing Team practice schedule that includes sailing in Panama City, Pensacola, Clearwater and Miami over the next couple of months.  This plus regattas in Sarasota, Naples, Miami and Lake Eustis. I have to coordinate transportation of my equipment, travel for myself, finding a crew (I don’t yet have a full time partner for my campaign), housing…and funding for all of this. Plus I have to practice between each of these events in Miami, so there is alot to figure out. You know how difficult this is to handle as an adult…imagine how confusing it is for a teenage athlete sailing at the elite level in his sport.

On top of this, I am a Junior in high school. The Junior year is the year I have to take all of my SAT and ACT’s, and is the year that colleges scrutineer most of all when looking at prospective students.  I hope to sail my entire life, but I will need a good job to be able to pay for my sailing, so I need to get into a good school to set my career in the right direction from day 1.  Schooling this year, with mostly all Honors classes will take considerable time out of my day. I know school is important and so this is not something I will let slide because of my athletics.

We all know that sailing is a physically demanding sport.  To be at the top of my game, and keep myself injury free, I workout in the gym four days a week and ride my bike 20-30 miles a day. Again, something I can not avoid because I have to stay in shape to be able to race a grueling schedule so I can stay on the US Sailing Team and continue to work towards my goal of Rio 2016!

So my typical daily schedule pretty much looks like this:

5:00               Wakeup
5:15-6:30        Bike Riding
6:30-7:00        Breakfast
7:00-10:00      School
10:00-4:00      Sailing
4:00-5:00        Debrief over dinner
5:30-7:00        Jaguar Fitness training
7:30-10:00      School

I am dedicated to my success. With the help of my coaches, trainers, teachers and many, many, many supporters I can achieve my goal and win the US Olympic Trials and then Gold in Rio! It is not going to be easy, and it is not a sure thing but I know that with my determination and a whole lot of hard work, I can pull this off.  My competition at the Olympic Trials will be a fleet of accomplished sailors with long lists of championship titles behind them. They are likely to all have college degrees and have an education and experience in business, sales and fundraising along with many contacts to help them manage and finance their campaigns.

I’m just a teen sailor relying on the good will and and support of those I meet along my journey to greatness.

Working on Strength Agility at Jaguar PT

Working on Strength Agility at Jaguar PT

It is a lot for a teenager to put together, but as a teen sailor, I know that you can’t really enjoy the strong breeze and flat waters unless you have experienced rough waters in your past. There are hundreds of people in my life that make this possible. My family, friends, those that I have sailed with (Jeff, Blair, Todd, Max, Robbie, Sarah, Katie,Taylor and everyone else), my coaches, my competition and those that donate their time and money to make this all possible. Trust me when I tell you that every morning when I wake up, it is the thought of sharing my victory with you that gives me the energy I need to get out of bed to accomplish everything on my list for the day! When I win the Gold Medal, it will not be my medal, but the shared medal of all of those that are helping to get me there.

Please give any amount to help me succeed.  Even $1.00 helps more than you can imagine!

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