Becoming an elite athlete in any sport is not as simple as making a decision to do so, it requires intense effort, clarity in focus and determination beyond the average athlete in your sport!
When I first decided that I wanted to become an elite athlete in the sport of sailing, I was young and naive. I remember the day well. I was at a youth training camp in Jensen Beach, Florida. I had flown down with my dad for a weekend of racing and a week of training with my teammates as we were all getting ready to sail in Lake Garda Italy just a couple weeks later.
The training camp was coached by Olympic Silver medalist Zach Railey. On the first morning of the camp, Zach sat us down and simply explained about his career, his focus and how he developed from an Opti sailor like us into and Olympic athlete. He told us that if we were asking our parents to spend the kind of money they were for our sailing, that we needed to have goals, and to be determined to achieve those goals no matter what. As Zach spoke, I felt like he was speaking to me directly even though there were 7 of us in this camp. I knew right then that I was on a mission to be the best that I could be in the sport of sailing!
I knew that it would talk a lot of work. I was not born a natural athlete, and so to become an elite athlete in my sport, I would have to work harder than everyone else, stay focused, learn as much as I could every chance I got and to be completely willing to do whatever it took to fight my way to the top! Zach told us how he followed a strict training program designed by the US Sailing Team Olympic Trainer and Physical Therapist, Chris Herrera at Jaguar PT. He told us that if we were serious that a workout program by them would be a necessity!
When I got home from Jensen Beach, I was a changed kid. I knew what I wanted to do and nothing was going to get in my way. At the time I was an average sailor. I was mid-fleet material and for the first time, I realized that I wanted to be at the top. I joined Jaguar at their Bow Down Training program and Chris designed a program for a young athlete to help me develop my strength and stamina. I worked at it every day. I started reading books on the sport and about how top athletes perfected their game, physically and mentally. I talked with Chris weekly and tracked my performance in his workouts. I started to see results. I made the US National Team, the elite team of youth sailors in the country and started representing Team USA at regattas around the globe.
Today I am among the top athletes in the country. Being on the US Sailing Development team, I have access to resources, training and a support network that helps me to continually increase my performance and to track my results in everything I do. I realize today that there is no such thing as being good enough. To be an elite athlete in this sport, one has to continually increase strength, agility, mental and emotional acuity and performance on the water. When I reach a milestone on my path, it is simply motivation to continue pressing towards Olympic Gold! Today I focus on becoming the top athlete in the USA, next it will be the world and then Olympic glory.
In order for me to continually progress in my sport, I still do the things I started doing while in an Optimist. I sail with the best sailors I can find, train with the top coaches in the world and follow a strict and focused physical routine laid out by my trainers at Jaguar Therapeutics (The US Sailing Team Fitness Center in Miami). I completely understand and am focused on the fact that to be at the top of this sport, I must train more, work harder and put in more effort than everyone else. If I lose my focus, if I waiver on my determination even a little I could miss my opportunity and I am not willing to let anything get in the way of reaching my goal!
The only constant in the sport of sailing is change. There have been a lot of changes in my sailing career and I have learned to roll with the punches. Even this month there have been a lot of changes to my campaign. Changes that are going to work out for the best and give me an even stronger ability to reach my goals. Every lesson I learn makes me a stronger, better and more agile sailor as I trudge this road towards being The Elite Athlete in my sport!