September 2015: Darden Purrington says perseverance and tenacity are the keys to sailing

Senior Darden Purrington ’16 knows the importance of hard work. Her dedication to sailing has given her the tenacity that is needed to persevere throughout the sport and as a leader on the team. That’s not only for her sailing career. It, is applied to her overall life, this is why Darden was named the September athlete of the month. She sat down with the Oak Connection to chat sailing and the importance of having a positive attitude of attainment.   

What does it mean to you to be athlete of the month?
To me, being recognized athlete of the month means being not only one of the many student athletes in the school, but also one who has been privileged to be seen and recognized as a leader in their sport.

How long have you been on the sailing team?
I have been on the sailing team since sixth grade and on varsity since eighth grade.

What is it about sailing that has drawn you and continues to draw you to the sport?
A bad day on the water is better than a good day on land. I have always loved being on the water. I am a highly competitive person, and I like to be both intellectually and physically challenged - sailing does both - so for me, it is a perfect fit. What keeps me coming back even after the bad days and the crushing defeats is the pursuit of excellence engrained within the team and the simple fact that whether it was tough or not I get to be on the water, in the sun for a minimum of three hours a day. Who wouldn't want that?

Do you participate in other sports or clubs at Collegiate; or outside of Collegiate? If so, what are they?
I am the president of the Future Military Leaders Club, a member of the DEV team and have published an application to help young, varsity sailors to get the hang of team racing. I also participate in the technical theater program and am currently in theatrical production III.

What is your goal for the year with sailing?
My goal for this year is for our team to go to and win both the Mallory (fleet racing) and Baker (team racing) National Championships. These spring 2016 events will be very hard to qualify for and extremely difficult to win. It was an incredible boost to our team spirit during the 2015 convocation where Jimmy Hurley recognized us for our achievements in the prior school year. This year we’re counting on our NCS family to support us. You’re the sixth man on our team! Sailing is hard to come watch, I know, but urging us toward victory with your awareness and encouragement around school will help us more than you can imagine.

What has been your most memorable moment thus far?
The most memorable moment thus far is sailing in Chicago at the Team Race Nationals last spring. We worked hard on the water, got to hang out together off the water, got to see some of Chicago as well and finished the season 10th in the entire nation!

What’s one piece of advice that has been given to you over the years that has stuck to you?
Coach Stokes has given me the advice many times over: “Be Aggressive.” This translates not only to when you're on a start line with 36 other boats and fighting to get a good start, but also going after everything you want with tenacity. Hike-out aggressively, roll-tack aggressively, attack at the start line and be the first to act. 

What advice would you give to someone looking to give sailing a try?
Come out and have fun. You get to be on the water, and it's a lifetime sport. Just come try it out! If racing competitively isn't for you that doesn't mean sailing isn't for you - just come try it out! However, if you enjoy good competition - the most competitive people I have ever met are sailors. Just…Come…Try…It…Out!