Interconnections Student skipper, alumni leader
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Student skipper, alumni leader
When avid boater Rachael Beard ’05 arrived at Skidmore, she was looking for more than great academics; she also wanted to sail. But to her dismay she found the college’s sailing club was in
a lull. So with personal determination—and a couple of supporters like fellow mariner Barbara Beck, an associate vice president who oversees human resources at the college—Rachael called a meeting to see how much interest there might be.
Fifty students showed up, some keen on competitive racing, others just curious. But there was one significant problem: no boats. Under Rachael’s leadership, the club began fundraising while it partnered with the Saratoga Sailing Club for practices. Members were able to buy two small racing boats and establish an endowment for their upkeep and maintenance. These self-starters became more than a club; they grew into a team.
Next they joined the Middle Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association, which covers a seven-
state district that’s recently become the most competitive in college sailing. In just two years Rachael helped drive the club from an exploratory question to an active team participating in
high-powered events like the annual New York Maritime Regatta.
The Skidmore Sailing Club took part in many other regattas. And Rachael recalls one of the
best tools they always brought along:
a simple gas grill named “Smokey,” which they set up
after every race day. They used it to satisfy their wind-whipped appetites, but it also became a
way for them to connect with other schools, whose hungry crews often stopped by out of curiosity and then stayed for burgers and conversation.
Not surprisingly, Rachael served as the club’s skipper. (It must come naturally: she was also
active in Honors Forum and SGA.) And today Rachael serves on the Alumni Association Board
of Directors as chair of young-alumni and undergraduate activities. She’s a perfect match for the responsibilities of that position.
Deb Sehl Coons ’72
Alumni Association President