Student shares experiences traveling for a school sport

Souths sailing team competes in team racing at the Baker National Championship regatta in San Diego, California

Dominic Dulac

South’s sailing team competes in team racing at the Baker National Championship regatta in San Diego, California

Dominic Dulac, Web Section Editor

One of my favorite aspects of high school is athletics. I’m not sure what attracted me to sports in the beginning. However, they’ve been a part of my life ever since I can remember. I tried many sports as a younger child, and some stuck for longer than others. Some, like baseball, never fit me. Others, like soccer and tennis, I played through middle school, but never found the real spark or time I would have needed to pursue them in high school. By the time I was a freshman, I really only played two sports. The first is running. I remember initially hating running as a kid because I could find neither fun nor the purpose of the sport. However, as I grew older, running became my favorite hobby, and in ninth grade I joined South’s cross country team, and the rest is history. There are few things I enjoy more than going on night runs with my friends in the summer.

However, one of those things is sailing. Compared to my other friends who sail, I started relatively late, when I was ten years old. But my passion for the sport grew instantly. From beginning at learn-to-sail at Grosse Pointe Yacht Club to traveling the country and searching for higher competition at national regattas, my skill also grew. Those two things combined led to me joining South’s sailing team last spring, and that was one of the best decisions of my life, leading me to be a member of one of the best high school sailing teams in the country. And my favorite part about my favorite sport at my high school? The travel.

One of the most unique parts about high school sailing is the amount of travel our team has to do. I don’t think there are any other Grosse Pointe South teams that travel as much or as often as we do. And although it is partly due to our skill, I acknowledge the fact that sailing is a rare sport for Michigan high schools plays a role  as well.

This year, through numerous rounds of qualifying, our sailing team managed to make it to two different high school nationals this year: one in Houston, and the other in San Diego. Let me get through the negatives first. The distance to these venues obligated us to fly to both. The regattas were two days long each on Saturdays and Sundays, and in order to give room to travel, we generally had to miss school to accommodate for flights. Although this could be seen as a positive, it actually made life difficult sometimes, because I had to take tests early or make them up after several days of not studying. Also, travel itself is a pain. For example, one of our qualifiers was in Wisconsin, and spending a total of 14 hours of a weekend sitting in a too full car with your team is not always as fun as it sounds. Also, regattas themselves are no picnics. When we travel, we don’t actually spend much time touring at all. Our daily itinerary runs something like: wake up, go to regatta, sail, come back from regatta and then go to sleep by ten because we’re exhausted. It’s really a lot of work, and is usually very tiring.

The good part is, that’s about all the bad stuff I can think of. Even in those dull moments of the day, our team always manages to find ways to have fun. And the key part is that it’s our team. There is really no “I” in South sailing. We travel as a team, we sleep in hotel rooms with our teammates, we eat together, we sail together and we generally have an absolute blast as a team.

The camaraderie built on trips like the ones we take cannot be understated. From the past two years of traveling, I have an innumerable amount of crazy memories and inside jokes with those who have traveled with me. I met some of my best friends through South sailing, and will miss those who graduated last year and are graduating this year. Especially this year, it was difficult to realize  I will never spend another long car drive or plane ride or even a single night in a hotel with the seniors. However, I think it’s important that I know I will miss them because I will miss the amazing times we have had together.

The traveling South sailing has allowed me to do is truly an amazing thing. Between the sailing, the places (just in general being able to be in a different part of the country), and the people, the travels always results in utterly fantastic weekends. It’s an honor to have had the opportunity to represent my school, and a pleasure to have invested so much time to be in great places with great people doing great things. So, now that the 2018 season is over, I guess I only have one thought: I wonder where we’re going to go next.