An All-Amer­i­can again

Leff­in­g­well re­peats as one of the na­tion’s top col­le­giate sailors

Record Observer - - Sports - By CHRIS KNAUSS ck­nauss@star­dem.com

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

ck­nauss@star­dem.com

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.

MARIAH LEFF­IN­G­WELL

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