I have just returned from the ICSA Coaching Colloquium and Winter Meeting, currently taking place in snowy Park City, Utah. When I received the invitation from Mitch Brindley, president of the ICSA and head coach for Old Dominion University's Sailing Team, question the relationship between skiing and college sailing.
I had my answer within a few moments of arriving to Park City. The skiing brings together an incredibly passionate, focused and outgoing group of coaches and industry professionals to discuss the growth and future of college sailing. The topics being discussed include event development, funding, gear, nutrition and health, fitness training, marketing and sponsorship, keeping the talent and so on. The enthusiasm for the sport melts the snow but not before a few good runs.
The event is organized by a core group of individuals but sees new additions with each year. The layout of the week is to facilitate participation from all who join, no matter how loud or soft the voice. I knew a few faces but new ones already felt like old pals after a quick tour of the venues and some casual chatting while negotiating the mounds of snow.
I had been asked to address the group with regards to the sailor's nutritional health and cover general wellness concerns coaches face in college sailing. Very much like One Design racing where to play we must manage our weight around a circus (i.e. life), the college student is juggling school, being away from home, social pressures and participation in a demanding sport. College sailors struggle with healthy nutritional habits (not all but the average) and both sailor and coach has a great deal to address specific to the sailing.
The coaches recognize the importance in nutritional health, make great effort to support the sailors but it can unintentionally get put on the back burner. The coaches have shared with me their concerns with eating disorders, off the water lifestyle habits, nutrient timing (when to eat certain foods so it helps the sailor verse slow them down) and recovery.
I was afforded their attention casually and more formally Wednesday evening. Casually: i would like to share with the sailing community how impressed I was with the way these folks carried themselves "off the clock" and how passionate they are about the health and well-being of their sailors. Whenever I was in shared company of one of the coaches, the conversation was 100% about how to help the student sailor. Formally: They asked excellent questions and thankfully I had answers for each.The discussions were productive and the feedback will be used to produce a spin-off of the SailTrim Journals to support this important group.
In addition I was able to talk with the national distributer of Gill (Jerry Richardson) about the technology behind their gear and their interest in supporting youth sailing. I met the Executive Director of US Sailing, who spoke to us earlier in the evening about their efforts to support the US Olympic Team. He has to be one of the most impressive individuals I have met in the industry to date. The US Sailing of tomorrow will be an incredible improvement from time ago. Finally, I was able to meet up with an individual with a shared interest in sailing fitness, Harry Legum of Annapolis Sailing Fitness.
Harry will present Friday evening, discussing with the coaches team based training techniques. He and I had wonderful conversation on building the industry and getting kids and adults excited about their own health and fitness. We both offer two unique niches to support the sailor and together we are both here to make sure there are no gaps.
Personally it was amazing to be in their company; discussing, brainstorming and sharing ideas, together growing and moving the sport of sailing forward. Is there a lot of skiing? For sure! However there is more action happening for the sport than how many runs in the day.
Sadly I had to leave early, but I already have 2009's event in the books, the youth of sailing is our future and supporting the growth of High School and College sailing in the US is a great way to support the sport of sailing for all.