Hawks sail into new era

Photo by Trey Powers

Andrew Hart | Herald Contributor

It is not too often that people from a university can say their campus is home to the national governing body for a sport—unless they go to Roger Williams University. That’s because on Sept. 15, U.S. Sailing moved their headquarters from down the road in Portsmouth, R.I. to the James L. Maher Center on the north side of the Bristol campus.

The move came at a time when both programs were in strong positions. RWU has won multiple championships and put forth numerous All-American athletes throughout their history. Additionally, the U.S. National Team came off a strong showing at the 2016 Rio Olympics where 26-year-old Caleb Paine won a bronze medal in the Finn-One Person Dinghy Heavyweight event.

Overall, the vibe of students around campus is excited but at the same time humbled. Multiple students expressed their excitement about the move, including freshman Doug Hostetler, who said: “Wow, that’s pretty sick.”

Another fellow student, JJ Pfohl, stated: “I think it’s an honor that Roger Williams is able to host such prestigious athletes. It just goes to show all of the work that our athletes have put in and all of our success is finally starting to be recognized.”

Pfohl went on to add that the joy surrounding the event also comes with a sense of responsibility.

“We have to be responsible for keeping the conditions—the bay—as best as possible. It is also crucial that we keep representing our university in a responsible way so that [U.S. Sailing’s] headquarters can be known for the national team, and for one of the best Division III sailing programs,” Pfohl said.

Pfohl’s statement proves true; Mount Hope Bay has been known for contamination problems throughout the decade, which led it to be placed on the Clean Water Act’s annual list of impaired water ways in 2009. Programs like Save the Bay have since partnered with RWU to make an effort to keep the beach and waterway clean.

At the end of the day, however, the campus feels that the move will be good for both sides. The sailing team will have access to a beautiful campus and the bay right at the foot of the RWU campus.

Members of the RWU sailing team might also be able to learn a few pointers from the national organization while the students on campus will further embrace the pride of what it means to be a Hawk and to represent the university as a whole.