David Heads off to Jacksonville University
As many of you know, my education has been anything but typical up to this point in my life. In 7th grade I left school in Rocky River, Ohio to pursue my dream of becoming a champion in the sport of sailing. Leaving behind family and friends to strive to become the best I could be as a person, an athlete, a friend and a student. Those years attending virtual school, taking my classes online and often completing my schoolwork in the dark hours of night so I could travel around the globe to train during the day when all my friends were in school taught me that there is so much more to life than just waking up to “deal with the day ahead”. My freshman year of college, I attended a huge university in the mountains which gave me a break from the intensity of my sailing campaign and an opportunity to reevaluate what was most important in my life. This year I am moving to Jacksonville University and will explain my reasons for choosing this school below.
There are a ton of great schools in the USA, and if you are a sailor there are so many choices when it comes to schools with tremendous sailing programs, some varsity and others club teams but all good programs in the same. To me, Jacksonville University stood out above the other choices I was considering because of it’s unique vision as lead by the Varsity Sailing Coach, Jon Faudree. Jon is originally from the Great Lakes which gives him experience in some of the most challenging sailing conditions possible, and with a harshly condensed season on the Lakes he grew up with an understanding that sailing is about much more than what happens when you are on the water sailing in circles around marks.
The Jacksonville University sailing team is a full varsity program and as such is focused on bringing a wining reputation to the school in our sport but the team is focused on developing a true Corinthian spirit in each athlete and in the team overall. Putting a focus on teamwork, community service and developing the strength and leadership of each member of the team builds character, defines individuals and empowers everyone to put forth their strengths to build a foundation that will last throughout our adult lives. Our Coach and the entire team wants to win National titles, but we are doing it through the strength of our team unity rather than simply bringing a group of individual sailors together to win races. To me, that is exactly what excites me about our sport and is why I chose to sail at Jacksonville University.
The atmosphere Jon has created for the team’s success is endemic at the culture of JU overall. When I went to visit campus last spring to meet with Jon, get the obligatory tour of the facilities and meet some of the current athletes on the team I found out that the campus is filled with people who are open, outgoing, friendly and happy. And I am not just talking about the staff. Coming from a school of over 24,000 students, campus at Jacksonville University is small…tiny in comparison but I quickly found that meeting the students was easy and fun. The experience of walking up to a building where someone is walking out and stops to hold door open, smiles as he says hi and welcomes me to the University, that never happened in Colorado. Never.
While I was touring the campus, I had a chance encounter with the schools President Tim Cost happened to be walking out of the Administration building on a Saturday afternoon on his way home. He stopped to introduce himself to me (a prospective student at the time I hadn’t even applied), to talk about the school and his plans for short-term development of the campus. After introducing himself to me, he quickly commented that Jon had talked about me before and Tim knew my name, where I was in school, knew about my Olympic campaign and then took the time to explain how JU could benefit from me being a student and how the school would be a great asset to my athletics in this sport as well as preparing me for the business world at large outside of my sailing career. Needless to say I was floored. The President of the University knew my name and WANTED me to come to school here AND I HADN’T EVEN DECIDED TO APPLY YET (at least not until that moment). I can guarantee that the president of my previous school didn’t know my name, or the name of any one of the students enrolled in the school, and we were active students.
I could tell that Jacksonville University was a school that was focused on the needs of each individual student involved in their athletics, in their education and in their life overall. It is less of an institution and much more of a family that is genuinely interested in the success of each person who is a part of that family and that is something that will help to insure the development and growth of me as a student, as an athlete and as a responsible member of society throughout my life. I am looking forward to the exciting times, and the challenges I will face at JU in the coming months but most of all I am excited to meet the other students, make new friends, sail with a team of great athletes and experience life as it is supposed to be…all under the umbrella of an amazing atmosphere at Jacksonville University in Florida!