When I applied to the Academy, I knew it was the place for me and would enthusiastically list off the many, many reasons I wanted to attend to anyone who would listen. But I always maintained one exception: New London, CT. Growing up and sailing around Annapolis, it never matched up against the allure of Naptown. Thankfully, there were dozens of other reasons that set the Coast Guard Academy apart from the rest and I decided it would be good to get away from my parents and take advantage of those many, many other reasons. Over the last two years I have grown quite fond of the area and thankful to attend college in New London for several reasons.
1. Maritime History/Future
New London, CT has long been a dominant force in the maritime domain from the earliest days of sail. The area is packed with maritime history from Mystic Seaport to the Old Customs House to the imagery all around the city. Recently, New London has positioned itself to once again become the center of attention with its new State Pier renovation project. The renovation is projected to service three new wind farms off the coast of New England and reinvigorate New London’s maritime focus. This project also brought with it a relocation of the local chamber of commerce to New London, countless academic and environmental studies, new college programs aimed at training and policy concerning offshore wind. As a cadet, I have been able to get an inside scoop on a lot of these developments and talk to some of the most prominent figures in the industry.
2. Military Community
Fun Fact: It was the citizens of New London who donated half the land that the Academy is built on today.
The naval submarine base and associated contractors mean that cadets and service members in general don’t stick out as much. It’s nice walking into establishments and a) receiving discounts, and b) having people ask interesting questions about your service or even telling you their own tales instead of mistaking you for a postal service worker or asking if you’ve shot a gun before.
3. Competitive Sailing
Last, but not least, this one is the most important to me as a sailor on the Dinghy Sailing team. Our conference in sailing is by far the best in the nation and we do not have to travel as far as many of our competitors in order to get to the most competitive regattas in the country. Right here in New England, I get to race against Yale, Harvard, Brown, MIT, Boston College, Boston University, and more. The sailing is so good in New England, teams like Tulane, Stanford, Miami, and Wisconsin routinely fly out here just to sail in our competitive regattas.
Outside of collegiate sailing, nearby Newport brings many of the world’s best sailors and professional regattas a short drive away. Because of this competitive scene, I have been fortunate enough to catapult from being a nobody on the high school racing scene, to racing some of the best sailors in the world (and beating them!).
Hope to see you on the water!