Remember, for Coach of the Year, we only choose candidates from nomination letters sent in, so we sit back, wait, and take what we get. This year, we were faced (again) with a lot of really good nominations, and we whittled that down to a small list of finalists. It was difficult to narrow this deserving field. Not easy. After going back and forth, noting two candidates received more than one nomination letter, we were again overwhelmed by both, and decided the tie could not be broken!
There were several important themes found in both winner’s nomination letters (dedication, knowledge, energy, positivity). However, one overriding theme for both, in this crazy and difficult year, was each coaches willingness, dedication, and openness to their respective teams.
So this year, S1D Coach of the Year Award goes to Stanford University’s CHRIS KLEVAN and Lauderdale YC’ Coach ERIK BOWERS. Both received multiple letters not only from players, but parents as well. Please scroll down and read excerpts from some of the letters we received.
Chris and Erik add their names to an incredibly impressive list. Here are our former winners:
S1D Coach of the Year Winners
2022- Chris Klevan & Erik Bowers
2021 – Maru Urban & Bobby Lippincott
2020- John Mollicone
2019- Jon Faudree
2018- Scott Iklé
2017- Bill Healy
2016- Bill Ward
2015- Frank Pizzo
2014- Chris Dold
2013- Steve Hunt
Excerpts from letters sent for Chris
I am writing to nominate my head coach Chris Klevan for Coach of the Year. Freshman year coming to Stanford all the way from the east coast was daunting not only for me and the incoming class but also for our two new coaches, Brian as head coach and of course Chris as an assistant. But off the bat Chris’ energy and love for sailing was infectious. Whether he is sailing during practice or on the coach boat, Chris is constantly giving the team feedback, pushing us to bring a competitive edge to practice, and of course, making sure each of us is present and having fun doing the sport he so dearly loves.Chris was able to transition to head coach seamlessly and did an outstanding job in his first year. He brought on two extremely talented assistant coaches to help contribute to an energetic and driven team culture. Chris works tirelessly to ensure everyone’s voices are being heard and accommodating when conflicts may arise. Something I value most about Chris is how approachable and supportive he is, always willing to sit down with us and talk through a problem head-on. I feel especially lucky being a crew on the team and getting to learn firsthand from one of the best dinghy crews OF ALL TIME — proven by the countless videos of Chris’ boat handing I have on my phone! The team culture Chris has helped develop, both as an assistant coach and this season as a head coach has been pretty unique and to me the main reason why we have been successful the last few seasons — finishing top 5 at every nationals this season, having 4 All-Americans and 2 Honorable Mentions on a team of only 16 sailors.
Chris is most definitely one of the greatest coaches and sailors in all of college sailing. He also is one of the most humble, hard-working, and passionate coaches. Chris’ passion for sailing and ability to communicate Team Racing plays as well as how to accomplish certain mechanics within the boat is greater than most coaches I’ve ever worked with. Also, in stressful situations, Chris never loses his cool and delivers his coaching with grace and with straightforward, to-the-point communication. Beyond this, Chris is a crew himself so he has paid careful attention to the development of crews on our team, which is often something other coaches overlook. Likewise, he often hops in the boat to crew to demonstrate moves to both skippers and crews, which is something most head sailing coaches don’t do. Chris likewise attended all of Stanford sailing’s early morning workouts, showing the team that he was fully a part of our process to get stronger on and off the water. Chris is a leader by what he shows to the team, not just what he says. Chris stepped into the role of head sailing coach after a few years of turmoil for the Stanford sailing team and completely re-ignited the team and the team’s goals. He motivated the team to work hard and gain a much stronger team culture, inspiring members of the team to schedule practice times outside of the normal days a week just to put in extra work. Here, if there weren’t enough crews at early practice, Chris would again step into the boat, helping sailors realize their potential and encourage them to go the extra mile. Importantly, Chris cares about his sailors as people and not just athletes. Chris takes care to meet with sailors and make sure they are doing okay with school work, sailing, and life overall. When a fellow student-athlete at Stanford passed away, Chris as he did in all the weeks before, checked in on everyone on the team and made sure to treat everyone as a person, and not just a student-athlete. Coaches this year in both well-established and up and coming programs have achieved amazing results, but Chris did it in both women’s and coed disciplines, and in both fleet race and team race. Likewise, this was Chris’ first year as head coach for Stanford. Many other teams have historically strong team cultures and finishes and strong coaches. Chris is the most deserving for this award, however, for this year in particular because of how strong he has made the Stanford sailing team in just one year. Aside from results, his dedication to the team has created a team culture that I am confident will last beyond this year. Chris Klevan should absolutely be the Coach of the Year this year.
I am nominating Stanford’s new head coach Chris Klevan. It should not be dismissed that he is the first collegiate head coach to be a crew- and an incredible one at that. He is a great sailor, a great person, and a great coach. He has grown into his position from an assistant last year and truly cares about his team. He’ll eat with us, sail with us, and run with us which is the truest form of “leading by example.” He is so passionate about sailing and hired two young assistant coaches that share the same passion and really push the team to put everything they have into the sport.
Excerpts from letters sent for Erik
Erik brings that racing experience and authentic sailing background to his coaching. He has been in the arena doing it himself for decades and has seen every situation. It is not uncommon for him to recall a race for one of his athletes from years ago, a certain situation, challenge, and “play it back” for his athletes…and is nearly “photogenic recall” on each and every race for his teams and athletes, “remember that one time on the one leg 3 years ago where X, happened, and this might happen again today, etc….” are not uncommon discussions with his team members. I believe Erik has coached over 300 of the last 365 days, through both programs at these schools/clubs and private coaching. Even on the “off days” he is doing phone conversations and planning for what is next. He is tireless not only as a coach, but keeps himself in elite conditioning himself, with daily cross-fit workouts he does sometimes alone, but often with some of his athletes. Of course, this example sets the tone for the athletes and teams he coaches…particularly in the ILCA class
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