Feb. 6, 2013
US Sailing’s 2012 National Coach of the Year: Mike Callahan
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 4th 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 #1, 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 4th place finish at the ICSA/Sperry Top-Sider Women’s National Championship, and placed 5th 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.).