For the 10 coaches at this year’s UYC Maritime Foundation Junior Sailing Camps, life has come full circle. All but one of them learned to sail through the program that began in 2010 and now they’re back on their home turf, teaching the next generation of young boaters how to sail and be safe on the water.
“It’s really been amazing to me that all these former students are back with us, sharing their passion for boating and their love of sailing,” said Susan Reddaway, director of the program that’s sponsored by the UYC Maritime Foundation and based at University Yacht Club. “They’ve taken breaks from summer jobs, come home from college and are working with these kids to help them learn the ropes, from boat handling and water safety to sportsmanship and teamwork.”
The coaches range in age from 15 to 21. All have gone or will soon go through the national US Sailing Level I training certification to be eligible to teach. Six of them completed the US Sailing Level I certification in spring 2019; the others are in various stages of certification, either as a coach-in-training or a junior assistant coach. Some grew up sailing with their parents on Lake Lanier; others experienced sailing for the first time 10 to 12 years ago through the program.
Some have made sacrifices to be able to coach. For instance, Josie Stanley, a student at Georgia Southern College, is taking a double load of classes this summer, juggling camp, studies and homework assignments.
“One night everyone stayed around and helped me with a project,” Josie said. “I’m taking two mini-mesters of classes – 18 to 20 hours of schoolwork in biology, the equivalent of two 13-week classes in five weeks.”
“We all took different parts of the assignment and learned about bugs,” said Sierra Gowens, who just graduated from high school. “It was pretty amazing.”
Each coach said they appreciate having come up through the program.
“It was good to be a sailor first because it helped me learn about how I wanted to be taught,” said Isabella Crain. “Putting myself in their shoes really makes me pay close attention to how I’m sharing information.”
Callum Francis at age 15 has tuned in to the various learning methods that work with different students. “It really depends on the kid as to how I approach a subject,” he said. “Some learn through hands-on and doing a task; others are more into listening and seeing it demonstrated.”
And how do they know that their teaching method is working?
“My favorite is when I see a kid actually ‘get’ the concept I’m teaching,” said Cameron Danger. “There’s just something about the look on their faces and knowing I’m helping them learn that stays with me.”
For some coaches, being at UYC again and teaching youngsters takes them back to when they were novices.
“With these kids, I see myself in some of them,” said Sophia Osterbold. “At this age, they have no fear. They’re not at all afraid to hike out or to capsize. They know it’s all part of the learning process and they just want to learn how to get better.”
Alana Bateman agrees. “When a student suddenly realizes that they’re in control of the boat and it becomes instinct, that’s the best moment,” she said. “It’s so fun to see them realize that the wind is their power and then they get in the groove.”
Here are the coaches and a bit about each one:
- Alana Bateman, 16, who lives in Decatur and is a rising junior at Decatur High School; she sails with her mother on a Catalina 36
- Isabella Crain, 17, who first learned to sail at the UYC program when she was 11 and just graduated from Cambridge High School; she will be attending the University of South Florida as a freshman in Environmental Science
- Zoe Danger, 17, an incoming freshman at the University of Alabama from Decatur, she started sailing with her grandfather at Lake Lanier Sailing Club when she was 6
- Cameron Danger, 15, rising sophomore at Decatur High School; she is a gymnast and also started sailing with her grandfather at a young age
- Callum Francis, 15, sails with his father on Lake Lanier in a 27-foot Catalina and plays soccer at Atlanta International School
- Sierra Gowens, 17, from Alpharetta teaches horseback riding and graduated from Chattahoochee High School
- Ivey Gowens, 17, who graduated from Chattahoochee High School and is taking a GAP year
- Noah Hicks, 16, a rising junior attending Gainesville High School, who started in the program when he was 6 and also paddles sprint canoe competitively on Lake Lanier
- Sophia Ostervold, 19, a rising sophomore attending fashion college in Paris, France; she has been coaching in the program for five years
- Josie Stanley, 21, a biology/Pre-Vet student at Georgia Southern University who has campaigned a Melges 24 with her father and several other Lake Lanier sailors.
Reddaway is like a proud mom with these coaches she’s seen grow up in the program and now have returned to share their knowledge.
“They’ve really bonded as a team and work together so well,” she said. “And I’m just so gratified to see them all give back to the sport and to these kids. They are making a difference in each of these junior sailors’ lives, not only by teaching them to sail, but by being role models.”
Photos: by Rick Smith / UYC Maritime Foundation