Each year seeing the freshman arrive on campus at SMC feels like watching your favorite movie with a friend who's never seen it before. At every corner and every step of the way, you can't wait to tell them how awesome the next scene is- but you (try to) hold your tongue to not spoil the ending or talk over important dialogue.
|Current teammates talk before a final team meeting|
Now as an alum I get to return to see Gordie running tryouts as a team captain, and Mike stepping back as the team's new assistant coach. As only the team and team captains pick the freshman class, it's an example of the unity and leadership a college sailing team needs to grow. It also says a lot about how a team needs layers of individuals beyond just the top six to survive. For me one of the most rewarding parts of being on such a competitive team was coming home from regattas and realizing how talented and diverse my stacked team was in remote St. Mary's. Previous SMC captain and current Assistant Coach (alongside long time coaches Adam Werblow and Bill Ward), Mike Kushner knows the system just as much as anyone else, and his experience adds a lot to what makes a college team mesh. Check out what he has to say and his experiences below:
I think the St. Mary's tryouts system says a lot about the dynamic of what makes a college team tick. Whether it's developing club team which went through exponential growth in the past four years (keep an eye on Will's college trip!) or established varsity programs such as St. Mary's, Boston College, Georgetown, Charleston, etc- it takes a some independent leadership from each team member to make the team run. St. Mary's definitely puts an emphasis on this, but for those in or planning to participate in college sailing it's something to keep in mind that college sailing is much more than trying to get to Nationals in the spring. On the whole it's a community about growth and with a lot of growth- and an amazing experience for young sailors with all types of backgrounds.
Photo courtesy of Franny Kupersmith