by Dana Paxton
US Sailing’s Olympic Sailing Committee (OSC) has selected two outstanding sailing coaches for the 2012 Coaches of the Year Awards. Based on nominations from the public, the OSC has named Mike Callahan (Washington, D.C.) the National Coach of the Year and Steve Keen (Greenwich, Conn.) the Developmental Coach of the Year. These two winners exhibited extraordinary dedication to the sport of sailing and made an impact on the sailors they coached in 2012.
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The OSC has also nominated these winners to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) for consideration for the 2012 Coaches of the Year Awards across all Olympic and Paralympic sports. The awards are a part of the USOC Coach Recognition Program, which highlights the accomplishments and contributions of coaches who train athletes at all levels of sailing.
As the Head Sailing Coach at Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.), Mike Callahan coached the sailing team to an impressive record including an overall first place at the 2012 Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA)/Gill Coed Dinghy National Championship, in June, with a win by A division sailors Chris Barnard and Hilary Kenyon. At the 2012 ICSA/Sperry Top-Sider Women’s National Championships, in Austin, Texas, Sydney Bolger and Rebecca Evans won A Division, and the team took an overall fourth place. In a rare occurrence for any college sports team, two of the team’s athletes were selected for the sport’s highest honors: Chris Barnhard (Newport Beach, Calif.) was named 2012 ICSA College Sailor of the Year and Sydney Bolger (Long Beach, Calif.) was named 2012 Quantum Women’s College Sailor of the Year.
'It’s quite an honor to be selected,' said Callahan. 'It’s a great list of coaches that have held that honor. Anytime you’re recognized by US Sailing and the effort that the sailors put in is recognized, it’s really great. A couple of things really made it quite a year; the success of the women’s and coed teams at the same time. We had amazing performances by Sydney – undefeated in women’s, which is remarkable. Chris Barnard sailed an unbelievable season. We knew we had the talent. There are years when you go in expecting to win and you don’t. It doesn’t always work out this well. Last year we were favorites and there was extra added pressure. It’s good to have that, especially at the end of the year.
Georgetown’s women’s and coed teams ended the Spring 2012 season ranked number one, a ranking the coed team has maintained since. In total, six members of the sailing team were selected for All-American honors.
With the school year spread over two calendar years, the team competes in multiple coed and women’s events (there is no men’s collegiate sailing) on most weekends between September and November and again between February and May. In the Mid-Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association (MAISA), the regional conference in which Georgetown competes, the team won the Spring and Fall 2012 MAISA Coed Conference Championships, the Spring 2012 MAISA Women’s Championships, and Barnard won the 2012 MAISA Singlehanded Conference Championship.
Sailing team member Nancy Hagood said, 'Because of Mike’s leadership, every member of the team works hard at practice in order to make the team better, and at regattas, the Georgetown team truly competes ‘As One.’ As a result, the Georgetown University Sailing Team is one of the only teams in college sailing where the College Sailor of the Year and a 'learn-to sail' walk-on are practicing on the same racecourse and are working toward the same goal of winning more national championships.
'Personally, I came to Georgetown as a freshman sailor who was enthusiastic and loved the sport but had never received any kind of national recognition. Less than three years later, I became a member of the 2012 US Sailing Development Team, helped the (Georgetown) team to a fourth place finish at the ICSA/Sperry Top-Sider Women’s National Championship, and placed fifth at the ICSA/Laser Performance Women’s Singlehanded Nationals, all because of Mike’s leadership and coaching.'
Emily Mezzetti, whose daughter MaryKate (Hyannis, Mass.) is a freshman member of the Georgetown team, noted that Callahan encouraged her to skipper in five major regattas. 'Her sailing skills have improved dramatically,' she said. 'Her enthusiasm for the Georgetown team is immense, more than I have ever observed. The care and support of her teammates, especially the upper class members of the women's team is fabulous. I watched other coaches interact with Mike with the utmost respect at sailing regattas this past fall. Clearly Michael Callahan's results, stature as a college coach and ability to instill teamwork and camaraderie as he improves his sailors' skills makes him a terrific choice for this honor.'
Callahan was selected to be Head Coach of the Georgetown University Sailing Team in August 1998.Callahan initially joined the athletic department as an assistant sailing coach in August 1997, shortly after graduating from the School of Foreign Service. He was a member of the sailing team and captain his senior year. Callahan is a 1993 graduate of Tabor Academy in Marion, Mass. where he was a four-year member and captain of the Tabor sailing team. While at Tabor, he was part of the two-time High School National Team Race Championship teams and also won the B division at the Mallory Trophy his junior year. Callahan has been the Sailing School Director at the New Bedford Yacht Club for the past 14 years and is a lifelong member of the Falmouth Yacht Club in Falmouth, Mass.
Previous winners of sailing’s National Coach of the Year Award are Mark Ivey (Tiburon, Calif.), Betsy Alison (Newport, R.I.), Bill Ward (Newport Beach, Calif.), Zachary Leonard (Branford, CT), Rollin 'Skip' Whyte (Wickford, R.I.), Roger 'Scott' Ikle (Geneva, N.Y.), Serge Jorgensen (Sarasota, Fla.), Jay Glaser (Long Beach, Calif.), Betsy Alison (Newport, R.I.), Luther Carpenter (New Orleans, La.), and Greg Wilkinson (Chesnut Hill, Mass.).
Steve Keen (Stanford, Conn.) is the C420 and I420 Head Coach at LISOT, the coaching and training program comprised of youth sailors from the New York metro area. Over the past five years in this position, he has directly coached an unprecedented number of C420 and I420 sailors to national and international podium finishes. In addition to coaching LISOT sailors, in 2012 Keen served as the double handed coach for US Sailing’s Youth World Team at the ISAF Youth World Championship, and as a coach for the U.S. team at the I420 World and I420 Junior European championships.
As the nomination from LISOT stated, 'Steve has been the driving force behind the I420 class during the past three years with the vast majority of I420 sailors in the U.S. under his guidance. Steve has also been recognized as a leader in C420 and I420 safety, having given numerous briefings on the topic at regional and national events in the U.S.'
US Sailing’s selection panel noted that Keen’s commitment to double handed youth sailing and breadth of results was impressive and exemplary of LISOT’s mission to provide sailors with the best possible coaching and support on the national and international sailing circuit. 'What I tell all my sailors is, I’ll work hard with them and for them,' said Keen. 'I am willing to go the extra mile to help them along the way. I want to see them reach their highest potential and win medals.'
In addition to his coaching expertise, Steve is responsible for managing LISOT’s double handed program in conjunction with LISOT’s volunteer parent manager for double-handed sailing, Michael Rudnick. In this capacity, Steve’s skills, reputation and his sailors’ results have enabled LISOT to grow the double-handed team to over 25 active teams – sailing year-round – in both C420 and I420s.
Sailors coached by Keen have a long list of achievements in 2012 including
US Sailing Development Team - I420
Harry Koeppel/Charles Bocklet
Megan Grapengeter-Rudnick/Abby Rohman
US Sailing’s ISAF Youth Worlds Qualifier - I420 (Alamitos Bay YC, Calif.)
Gold - Harry Koeppel/Charles Bocklet
Gold - Megan Grapengeter-Rudnick/Abby Rohman
Silver - Lily Katz/Fiona Walsh
Bronze - Reinier Eenkema van Dijk/Spencer McDonough (also 2011 winners)
ISAF Youth Worlds - (Dublin, Ireland): Boys 29er, fourth - Quinn Wilson / Dane Wilson
SL 16 Catamaran, eighth - Jeremy Herrin / Sam Armington
Girls 420, 11th - Megan Grapengeter-Rudnick/Abby Rohman
Boys 420, 24th - Harry Koeppel/Charles Bocklet
Kiel Week (Kiel, Germany)
7th – Reinier Eenkema van Dijk /Spencer McDonough
11th – Megan Grapengeter-Rudnick/Abby Rohman
I420 French Nationals: Bronze - Reinier Eenkema van Dijk/Spencer McDonough (best finish by U.S. team in many years)
I420 Worlds - (Austria) :
Top Junior team (both sailors under 16) Wade Waddell / Henry Fernberger (and 15th open gold fleet)
Ladies Silver fleet, silver - Megan Grapengeter-Rudnick / Abby Rohman
Open Silver Fleet, fourth - Reinier Eenkema van Dijk/Spencer McDonough
I420 Jr. Europeans - (Lake Garda, Italy)
Gold Fleet, sixth – Wade Waddell / Henry Fernberger
4th Ladies - Megan Grapengeter-Rudnick / Abby Rohman
Silver Fleet, second Drew Gallagher / Finn Mundinger
5th Harry Koeppel / Charles Bocklet
C420 Mid-Atlantics (Brant Beach YC, NJ)
1st – Reinier Eenkema van Dijk/Spencer McDonough
2nd – Ty Ingram / Forrest Thomas
3rd – Jack Parkin / Florian Eenkema van Dijk
5th - (and Top Girl Team) - Martina Sly / Pere Puig
I420 Atlantic Coast Championship (Annapolis, MD)
1st – Casey Klingler/Fiona Walsh
2nd – Reinier Eenkema van Dijk/Spencer McDonough
3rd – Megan Grapengeter-Rudnick/Haley Fox
5th - Wade Waddell / Henry Fernberger
I420 North American’s at Orange Bowl (Miami, FL)
1st – Jack Parkin/Ben Saxton
2nd – Wade Waddell/Henry Fernberger (top jr team under 19)
3rd – Casey Klingler/Fiona Walsh (top girl team)
5th – Russell Clarida/Forrest Thomas
Previous winners of sailing’s Developmental Coach of the Year Award are Ryan Minth (New York, N.Y.), Brett Davis (Naples, Fla.), Ben Glass (Seattle, Wash.), Duffy Markham (Wellesley, Mass.), Tom Coleman (Hixson, Tenn.), Rob Hallawell (Marblehead, Mass./Coronado, Calif.), Brian Doyle (Darien, Conn./Hanover, N.H.), Adam Werblow (St. Mary's, Md.), Mike Zani (Bristol, R.I.) , Amy Gross-Kehoe, and Jay Kehoe (both Annapolis, Md.).
The goals of the USOC’s Coaching Recognition Program are to recognize the tremendous accomplishments and contributions coaches make to sports at all levels of athlete development and to elevate the status of coaching as a profession. The winners of the USOC’s coaching awards across all sports will be honored at the 2012 National Coaching Educators’ Conference.
US Sailing website