Why I Took the Level 3 Sailing Program Management for Head Instructors Course

Cover of Level 3 textbook


“Never Too Late to Learn New Tricks”
Why I Took Level 3 Sailing Program Management for Head Instructors Course Through US Sailing (And Why You May Do the Same)

by Tim Clark – Board Chair, Junior Sailing Association of Long Island Sound.

Long Island Sound has been blessed with an abundance of volunteers supporting junior sailing. Many junior program committee members can boast enviable resumes that showcase both depth and breadth of sailing experience.

But when (or how long ago) was the last time any of us reminded ourselves of the full range of responsibilities assumed by our head instructors? And the present-day decision-making challenges faced by those who hold these positions.

I needed a refresher on the roles, responsibilities and challenges facing our head instructor, so in April 2023 I signed up for the US Sailing Level 3 Program Management for Head Instructor course.

I wasn’t in it for the certification. I was in it for the knowledge. I have been sailing since I was 11 years old on Long Island Sound. Grew up sailing Blue Jays, Lightnings and then Solings. Onto big boats and even Twelve Meters. I was a head instructor. I sailed in high school sailing team and in college. Many years later, I started volunteering in junior sailing, helping to run regattas, organizing regattas and even running a local junior sailing program. All that led me to serving on the Board of the JSA.

When I became Board Chair, I realized that our sailing instructors had the power not only to instill a life-long love of sailing, but that it was the head instructors who were the “head coaches” that often created the foundation for a successful junior sailing program.

If an important part of the JSA’s mission is to support its member junior sailing programs through leadership, training and communication, then we have to be in tune with the opportunities and challenges facing junior sailing program management.

That means we need to better appreciate the roles and responsibilities of a head instructor, and the Level 3 Program Management for Head Instructor course is designed for that purpose.

Taught by US Sailing instructor trainer Jane Millman via a series of webinars over a ten-day period, the Level 3 training underscored the complexities facing modern day head instructors. Yes, there was homework. But it was the webinar sessions where each of us made presentations and engaged in lively dialogue on how to handle different situations that were both instructive and eye opening. While it did not leave me with an unwarranted self-confidence that I could take on those responsibilities myself, it allowed me to appreciate how I, as a junior program leader, might better support my head instructor.

US Sailing describes Level 3 Head Instructor Training like this, “The US Sailing Small Boat Level 3 Head Instructor Certification Course, is designed to support sailing instructors and program managers that are either making the transition to a leadership role in their programs or growing their management skills in their current role.”

This course is also available for parents and volunteers that want to better manage their sailing programs but do not want to receive a certification. This course contains information on how to manage more effectively, problem solve, continue to create a quality learning environment for their students and sailing staff, and where to find additional resources.”

If our sailors deserve the best trained instructors, Level 1 Certification makes sense. If those instructors deserve high quality leadership skills from their head instructors, Level 3 Head Instructor Certification makes sense.

And if we, as junior program leaders, are to be our most effective in our roles of providing leadership support of our head instructors, we need to possess the understanding of the roles, responsibilities and challenges faced by those we place in these important positions.

What better way to gain that understanding than to take Level 3 Head Instructor Training.

I believe that our head instructors would benefit mightily from this training.

I believe our junior program leaders would benefit as much, if not more, from this training.

US Sailing is next offering Level 3 Head Instructor Training beginning October 20th.

I hope, as junior program leaders, you will seriously consider taking this course. And that you will encourage your head instructors to do the same.