An All-American again
Leffingwell repeats as one of the nation’s top collegiate sailors
She did it again. With the help of teammates and coaches.
Easton resident and Saints Peter and Paul High graduate Mariah Leffingwell has earned All-American collegiate sailing honors for the second consecutive year.
In an online awards presentation June 30, Leffingwell learned she was selected as one of the nation’s top 18 crew sailors by the Intercollegiate Sailing Association.
Leffingwell helped St. Mary’s College of Maryland place third out of 16 teams competing in the Laser-Performance Team Race Nationals on North San Diego Bay, May 28-30. She competed every weekend to help the Seahawks sailing program win seven of 27 regattas this spring.
Like last year, Leffingwell’s name will be added to the ICSA Hall of Fame display in the Robert Crown Center at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.
A committee of representatives from the seven conferences in the ICSA selects the All-American Team. To select an All-American skipper, the
committee evaluates a competitor based on his or her competitive record in interconference competition as well as conference and national championships. The committee analyzes how this record compares to fellow competitors, the quality of the competition the record was achieved in, the results achieved competing with different crews, the span of the record over the fall and spring seasons, and how the record compares to previous All-American winners in past years.
For All-American crew selections, the committee uses criteria similar to skipper selection, but also considers demonstrated leadership, outstanding body mechanics and boathandling skills, as well as proven ability to improve the results of skippers with whom he or she sails.
Like many of the sailors, the news of being selected as an All-American came as a welcome surprise.
“It’s not something you can really ever predict,” Leffingwell said. “You can’t really say at the end of the season, ‘Oh, I’m going to be an All-American.’ So I think it’s a nice achievement for the end of my college sailing career.”
Sailing in the nationals for St. Mary’s along with Leffingwell were Alexander Curtiss ’16, Shelby Jacobs ’17, Edmund Cooper ’17, Markus Edegran ’16, and Kaitlyn Noreen ’16. The Seahawks placed seventh at last year’s team nationals.
Seahawks sailing director Bill Ward said his team was “really happy to be on the podium. All of our races were really close and we made some mistakes. It has been a long season and this was a good way to finish up considering where we came from.”
Ward, who has been with the Seahawks program since 2006, was named the coach of the year by Sail1Design, presented by Henri-Lloyd.
Seahawks joining Leffingwell on the All-American teams were Curtiss, Jacobs, and Carolyn Smith, an honorable-mention pick.
St. Mary’s coed sailing team captured the 2016 America Trophy April 30 to May 1 at SUNY Maritime College, winning the Middle Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association Dinghy Conference Championship to qualify for the national championships.
“I think our biggest accomplishment was sticking together as a team through the spring season to get third at nationals, because team racing is a challenging area that’s still developing in our sport,” Leffingwell said. “It was a big accomplishment for our team to be able to get third.”
Leffingwell credited a lot of her success to her coaches: Ward, Adam Werblow and Conner Blouin.
“I owe so much to Adam, Bill, and Conner,” she said, “because to come from that [the start of her college sailing career] to now a twotime All-American is something. I owe it all to them and my teammates.”
This year was especially challenging for Leffingwell due to a hip problem.
“I had an injury in the fall, probably more like an overuse injury,” she said, “so I had to get it taken care of and come back for the spring season.
“With getting cortisone shots in my hip it was definitely a battle back for me. I sailed with Mackenzie Cooper who was a junior this year and Shelby sailed with Alex so we traveled to every regatta this year together.” She said she also teamed with sophomore Chase Quinn.
Leffingwell had teamed with Curtiss to earn last year’s All-American honors. “In general, in college sailing, you trade partners depending on what the team needs,” she said. “The team changes a lot from year to year, so you generally sail with a different partner.”
Leffingwell said it was a great feeling to receive the prestigious All-American honors again.
“More importantly, I gained such great friendships and had such a great experience on the team,” she said. “It was a great way to end my senior year, being out on the St. Mary’s River with everybody, doing what we love.”
Leffingwell graduated from St. Mar y’s in May. She is currently the junior sailing director at Miles River Yacht Club in St. Michaels and plans to attend law school at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island where she will study Maritime Law.
“I grew up sailing and being near the water,” she said, “so I think that I’m interested in the program at Roger Williams because it will hopefully keep me by the water. I think that’s the first reason why I’m looking at maritime law, but it’s just an interesting topic that I think I’d like to study.”
Leffingwell began sailing Optis (a 7-foot, 9-inch boat with one sail) at the Tred Avon Yacht Club when she was 9 years old. She enjoyed sailing then, but not the competition.
“I didn’t gain my competitive edge until high school,” she said during an interview last summer. “I enjoyed being on the water, but I wasn’t very competitive until I began sailing the 420s in high school.”
She played lacrosse when she was younger and has used her athleticism (noted on last year’s All-American selection video) to succeed on the water.
“A big misconception about sailing is that you don’t have to be athletic,” she said. “I played a lot of lacrosse growing up and I find that being an athlete makes my job easier, just like it would on the lacrosse field. And I think there’s a lot of mental toughness involved in sailing.”
After being honored last year, Leffingwell said her goals for her season this year was to become a twotime All-American and to have more teammates receive national recognition — goals now accomplished.
“Another one of the better accomplishments for the spring season would be also having four All-American teammates,” she said. “As a team it was a big accomplishment to have our team represented like that. It’s awesome.”
Follow me on Twitter @csknauss Email me at
Easton resident Mariah Leffingwell, boat 16 in the bow, earned All-American honors for the second straight year competing for St. Mary’s College of Maryland.