Alden Findley, Captain, Vero Beach High School Varsity Sailing Team
ON SATURDAY, 5.20.2017 OUTGOING CAPTAIN OF THE VERO BEACH HIGH SCHOOL VARSITY SAILING TEAM, ALDEN FINDLEY, WAS RECOGNIZED BY HIS TEAMMATES, PARENTS AND THE YOUTH SAILING FOUNDATION COMMUNITY.
Youth Sailing Foundation Executive Director Stu Keiller complimented Alden for his passion and drive in founding the high school varsity sailing team along with YSF founder Charlie Pope in 2014, and for the outstanding leadership he has demonstrated in captaining the team for the 2016-17 season.
Alden with Youth Sailing Foundation Board Chairman, Pat Harris
Alden credits his sailing experience at Youth Sailing Foundation for transforming him into the confident and competent leader he has become.
By his own account, Alden was a shy, quiet ten-year-old lacking self-confidence and initiative. He had tried many sports and activities including basketball, surfing, music, skateboarding and chess. Nothing resonated with him. He stuck to solitary pursuits, taking refuge in books as a top reader in middle school.
Everything changed for him when he discovered sailing. Starting out in the small single-handed Opti pram, he felt independent, empowered, competent and in-charge while guiding the boat through the wind and waves. He found that the traditions and culture of sailing allowed for easy conversation with his crew and teammates. Finally, he felt like he belonged.
He advanced quickly, becoming the program’s first Junior Instructor, then a qualified regatta official, and finally at seventeen years old, one of the youngest race officers in US Sailing.
His shyness and lack of initiative had given way to a passion for the sport which motivated him to approach his high school principal with the idea of starting the first varsity sailing team in Indian River County.
He discovered a use for his imagination and with a strong entrepreneurial mindset brought together all the decision makers, kick started the funding, and designed and implemented the Vero Beach High School Varsity Sailing program.
As team captain Alden honed his leadership skills, first by mastering the many administrative details of organizing team practices and regattas. Later, with a team comprised of male and female skippers and crew from diverse backgrounds and levels of sailing experience, Alden learned how to motivate the team by incorporating their ideas on how the team could become more competitive.
Drawing from the team’s interactions and dynamics, Findley seeks to reach out to the youth of Indian River County and develop an inclusive “family” of young sailors – a group in which anybody and everybody, no matter their background or story, can have a sense of belonging and empowerment, something for which he and his coach, Mary Morgan, both have a deep passion.
As he retires as team captain, Alden will be attending the University of Miami where he will continue his sailing career and study computer science and biomedical engineering.
–William Krueger, Board Member, Youth Sailing Foundation