Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Beka Schiff on Sailing for College of Charleston


Name: Beka Schiff

School: College of Charleston

Year: Freshman

Hometown: Tampa, FL

College of Charleston Sailing Team: http://bit.ly/CofCSailing

College of Charleston Sailing Team on Facebook: http://bit.ly/CofCSailingFB



Why did you choose Charleston? What other programs did you look at?

I knew I wanted to sail in college, so I mostly looked at schools with good sailing programs.   University of Vermont, Brown, and Boston University were some of the other schools that I looked hard at.  I ended up picking College of Charleston because it’s in the middle of everything geographically, we really have phenomenal facilities, and it’s a lot warmer than most of the other top programs.

What do you like about sailing in College?  What do you dislike?

Not everyone knows this going in, but there are a lot of different levels of college sailing that give everyone opportunities to sail.  There are lower key regional events, women’s events, and then the major intersectionals.  I like how, even at a really strong program like Charleston, everyone has an opportunity to get involved and sail.

I really don’t have any major dislikes with the college sailing experience at this point.

What has been the biggest sailing challenge? Non-sailing challenge?

Having good roommates is a really big deal, and is definitely a big non-sailing challenge.  Your living situation is really important to your overall happiness, and who you lived with can be a very mixed bag.  Also, coming into a team that had 50 new people on it was definitely overwhelming at first.  When I came to Charleston, I only knew one other person that was in my freshman class.  However, everyone on our team is so tightly knit together and friendly, it was so easy to get to know a lot of different people pretty quickly, and make friends.

From a sailing standpoint, the biggest challenge is that everyone is just REALLY good.  This isn’t necessarily the case in high school.  Also, I transition a lot between skippering and crewing.  It’s tough to do that well all of the time.  You have to learn quickly about sailing with a lot of different people, and learning how they sail the boat compared to others. In high school, you usually sail more often with the same people, so this is a pretty large adjustment.

What are practices like?

Overall, practices are really fast paced with not much sitting around.  You get pushed so much harder than you are in high school.  We practice Tuesday through Thursday.  Most practices are sailed in FJ’s, and all 18 will get sailed at once.  We typically start out with drills in two or three different groups, based on skill levels.  Towards the end, everyone comes together and we do a lot of races.  Every once in a while, we will have a race day where all we do is race.  These race day practices are really intense because our team is so deep.  We usually do those later in the week to prepare for the weekend regattas.

What are you studying in school?

Right now I’m mostly getting my general education requirements out of the way, and mixing in a few biology and health courses.  At Charleston, you have to get your general education requirements done so that you can declare a major.  When I get those other courses out of the way, I will either declare Biology or Public Health as my major.

How do you balance school work?

As a varsity sport at Charleston, we have mandatory study hall hours.  As a freshman you have to put in a minimum of six hours a week in a specific study hall area that you have to swipe in and out of with a card.  The card is on a timer. This is required of every varsity team at Charleston.  Assuming that you have a great GPA, that required number may go down.  As a sophomore, you won’t have required study hall hours.  The thought is that you will eventually know how to manage your time while participating in both school and athletics.

Additionally, we are all set up with academic advisors in charge of tracking each person’s progress and varsity status.  There is always someone in place to help you if you are struggling, and if you need help balancing everything.

What are your goals for this year? By the time you graduate?

Improving as a crew is first on the list, and then getting better as a skipper.  Eventually I want to help out the women’s team as much as possible by taking on a major role in that area of the team.  The goal is to make it to Women’s Nationals all four years, and, of course, to do well there.

As I move up, I also want to help newcomers make the transition from high school, and integrate them into the team.  That’s something that is really important to me.

Beka Schiff

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