"In Scuttlebutt issue 3196, the lead story was an excerpted blog post with some opinions and statements about the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, some of our athletes and the new culture we have instituted. While each of us is entitled to our own opinion, we are not entitled to our own facts. And, quite simply, there were several factual inaccuracies that should be corrected.
Luke Lawrence is a member of the 2010 US Sailing Development Team. Period. And, as far as we are concerned, he’ll be on the team for the remainder of the year unless he chooses to step aside. We think Luke is a great talent, and we hope he’ll apply again for the team in 2011. We’ve never kicked him off the team, we’ve never asked him to resign, and we’ve never excluded him from any team meetings, barbecues, or training sessions. The blog post in question made lots of statements about his removal and exclusion from the Team. I was surprised to read that, it was news to me, and I maintain a complete open door policy to chat with any sailor at any time about anything that concerns them.
Our Development Team is intended to be a path for young sailors to learn to compete as Olympic athletes… something that Olympic sailing in the USA has been in desperate need of for a long time, and that we are proud to have created. We give them coaching and lots of other kinds of support, and we give them opportunities to train alongside and learn from our top athletes, like Finn Silver Medalist Zach Railey. We look for developing athletes who have the skills and the commitment to be a part of this team, and if they want to take advantage of the opportunity, we welcome them with open arms. If they would rather go their own way, then that’s fine also. We’ll cheer just as loudly for any athlete who would prefer to follow their own path and who finds a way to win an Olympic medal on their own. If Luke chooses his own path, then that is great. On the other hand, if he wants to take advantage of the opportunities on our Development Team, then that’s great also. Either way, we will cheer his success.
We believe strongly in the system and culture that we are building on our Development Team and on the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics. We believe that shared training and a collaborative culture is better for everyone. We believe it helps stretch our resources further. We believe it creates a better environment for our sailors. And we believe it creates something that sponsors, donors and fans can embrace.
We have a system, and it is an entirely new culture. But it’s not for everyone. It would be impossible to create a structured system that also caters to every specific need of every athlete. And with about 100 hyper-competitive, goal-oriented athletes on our teams, it’s also unrealistic to expect that all of them will love everything that we do. But we do believe that a system is necessary, and if someone wants to work outside the system, at the end of the day, the sailors on the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Teams are still representing the USA and we’ll be there alongside them, cheering and supporting.
One of the key issues with our system, however, is the role of the private coach. We work hard to hire staff and per diem coaches who believe in our new culture and can have a positive effect on both their athlete(s) and the entire team at the Olympics. In the lead-up to the Games, the role of the private coach is an issue when staff coaching is present at the same event. We understand full well that some athletes will want or need some additional, personal support. Those private coaches are welcomed into our training and our meetings, with a few specific requirements. The coach has to be trustworthy, has to be a team player, and we won’t hesitate to respectfully exclude someone whom we determine, in consultation with other athletes on our team, would have a negative impact in any way on our culture, training and effectiveness.
Finally, I want to applaud our Finn results over the last two years. The record speaks for itself and we have a world-class Finn program in the USA for the first time in a long time. That’s a credit first and foremost to our sailors, but also to our coaches and our friends in the Finn class who have worked so hard to make USA success in the Finn a reality.
US Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Program"