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While flying, the ability to make quick and accurate decisions has to come naturally and effortlessly. Above all, sailing has prepared me most for those challenges I face in the airplane. I honestly believe everyone should have the opportunity to be challenged by a windy day on a boat when everything is in chaos, and have to dig down deep to take action.
Only 6 months after graduation I have already felt the impact VOST has had on my career. Immediately following commissioning, all Marine Corps officers attend TBS, an intense infantry based training designed to teach decision making in mock-combat scenarios. The stress and uncertainty involved in this training brought out many of the lessons I learned from the sailing team including organizing and leading a group, making split-second decisions in stressful situations, and building confidence in myself and my teammates. While nothing compares to sailing on the open ocean, it seems the skills I’ve gained from that experience compare exactly to the skills that the Marine Corps and flight community are looking for. The staple leadership qualities of communication, thoughtful risk-management, and always having time to be there for your team (even for the struggles outside of sailing) were all factors I’d learned about and developed through my time on VOST. They made me feel more prepared than my peers from other schools and even other USNA graduates.
I have learned more about leadership on the team than I have anywhere else at the Naval Academy.
A truly remarkable mentor and role model, Coach T doesn’t just build young men and women capable of delivering sound performances on the water in collegiate competition; more significantly, he develops teamwork, character, and leadership in our nation’s next generation of front-line leaders. Rather than prioritizing the sailing program for its own sake, Coach T consistently emphasized the importance of our being Midshipmen first, meaning he respected our military and academic obligations and fostered our own personal growth by means of our participation in sailing.
The purpose behind the Naval Academy’s sailing program is to train midshipmen for our ultimate goal of becoming officers in the United States Navy of Marine Corps and Coach T has played a tremendous part in doing that.
[VOST] practices not only built teamwork and leadership, but would constantly challenge us mentally to come up with novel solutions or react to unexpected problems. Coach is a truly great teacher because he embraces his role of developing leaders for our worldwide team. Very soon I will safely fly Marines to and from combat, confident and grateful that Coach Tihansky has helped me become the man I am today.