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25 Apr 2016

After soliciting nominations from the public, US Sailing's Olympic Sailing Committee (OSC) today, 25 April, announced David Ullman (Newport Beach, Calif.) as US Sailing's 2015 National Coach of the Year

Coaching is a difficult thing to do well, and it's especially hard to transition from being a racer to being a good coach.

Each year, the OSC honors coaches who have distinguished themselves at the youth, national and international levels. The awards are a part of the United States Olympic Committee’s (USOC) Coach Recognition Program, which highlights the accomplishments and contributions of U.S. coaches who train athletes at all levels of Olympic and Paralympic sports.

Ullman is well-known in the international sailing community for his contributions as a racer, sailmaker and coach. The 1996 US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year founded Ullman Sails in 1967, and has won multiple World Championship titles in several classes, including three in the Olympic 470.

It was Ullman's return to the 470 and the U.S. national team after an extended hiatus that led to his recognition as 2015 Coach of the Year. "It has been absolutely rewarding and fulfilling to coach Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha on the Olympic circuit," said Ullman, who guided the US Sailing Team Sperry's women's 470 team to new heights in 2015. With Ullman's help, Haeger (East Troy, Wisc.) and Provancha (San Diego, Calif.) won bronze at the 2015 470 Europeans in Aarhus, Denmark, and gold at the 2015 Olympic Test Event in Rio de Janeiro. "The thing about success in coaching is that it's a two-way deal,"said Ullman. "Success only comes through a combined effort between you and the sailors."

Ullman's personal success on racecourses around the world led to an early demand for his skills as a coach. "Pro sailing is part of how I got started in coaching," explained Ullman. "I started in 1987, after my 470 sailing career stopped. In '87 and '88, I coached both the U.S.  men's and women's 470 teams in advance of the trials for [the] Soeul 1988 [Olympic Games]. After that I coached the Men's Olympic 470 team in 1988,  John Shadden and Charlie Mckee, who won bronze." McKee (Bend, Ore.) and Ullman will return to the summer Games together later this year, as both will serve on the U.S Olympic Sailing Team coaching staff for Rio 2016.

Ullman sees coaching as a mostly separate art form from racing, and one that requires a different type of preparation and execution. "I enjoyed the transition from sailor to coach, but it wasn't simple for me," said Ullman. "Coaching is a difficult thing to do well, and it's especially hard to transition from being a racer to being a good coach. For me, it wasn't all that easy. You don't want to try to form the people you're coaching into mirror images of yourself. The real job is to get the most out of them based on their own strengths, weaknesses and individual personalities. From what I've seen, many of the best coaches are not the best performers in their own racing careers, and don't have to go through that evolution."

A dominant force during his own Olympic-class career, Ullman now enjoys passing on his knowledge to the current generation of sailors representing the United States. "It's a way of giving back, and having that knowledge go forward with other American sailors. Shadden and McKee were close friends when I stopped sailing 470's in '87. As soon as they could beat me, it was time for me to coach them. And now, with Annie and Briana, I get a great level of satisfaction from watching them perform at a high level."

When asked about what advice he would give new coaches, Ullman says that wholly committing to a coaching path is the best way to finding success. "Willie McBride, who is a young coach now for the US Sailing Team Sperry, is a perfect example. He's someone who is a really good sailor in his own right, and immersed himself in coaching. Now he's in the Olympic program coaching the 49erFX after doing some good work with younger skiff sailors," said Ullman. "If you really want to be a great coach, you have to fully pursue that track, rather than trying to have a parallel pro sailing career. The successful coaches will decide that this is what they should focus on, get help, and become a student of the coaching game. Things have changed since I started. Now top-level coaching is a full-time job, and if done properly, a career."

Ullman joins a distinguished list of winners of the US Sailing National Coach of the Year Award, which includes Morgan Reeser (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), Greg Wilkinson (Rockport, Mass.), Mark Ivey (Tiburon, Calif.), Michael Callahan (Washington, D.C.), Betsy Alison (Newport, R.I.), Bill Ward (Newport Beach, Calif.), Zachary Leonard (Branford, CT), Rollin “Skip” Whyte  (Wickford, R.I.), Roger “Scott” Ikle (Geneva, N.Y.), Serge Jorgensen (Sarasota, Fla.), Jay Glaser (Long Beach, Calif.), and Luther Carpenter (New Orleans, La.).

Steve Keen was announced as 2015 US Sailing Development Coach of the year. Read on .......

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Source: US Sailing