FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jake Fish, US SAILING Communications Manager
PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (August 27, 2009) - US SAILING, the national governing body for the sport, has announced the winner of its National Sportsmanship award, the W. Van Alan Clark Jr. Trophy, to the late Nick Scandone (Fountain Valley, Calif.). Today, US SAILING’s Executive Director, Charlie Leighton (pictured), presented the national sportsmanship award to Nick Scandone’s wife, Mary Kate (pictured), following the awards ceremony for the C. Thomas Clagett, Jr. Memorial Regatta (a sanctioned event for disabled sailors) at Fort Adams in Newport, R.I.
The 2008 Paralympic Gold Medalist passed away January 2, 2009, after a long battle with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a debilitating neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. An avid sailor since he was a child, Scandone reached his ultimate goal of winning a Paralympic gold medal this past summer in Qingdao, China with SKUD-18 teammate Maureen McKinnon-Tucker. Scandone beat the odds of his disease by not only being strong enough to compete at the 2008 Paralympic Games, but by winning the gold medal a day early, with two races left to go.
Leighton mentioned in his presentation that, “In the words of those who nominated this year’s winner, Nick served as an example of a person who not only played his sport well within the parameters of the rules, but encouraged others to do the same. He was humble about his achievements, accepting honors and awards quietly, while speaking from the heart. Nick showed interest in each person, not just in the race results of the day. Nick’s record of loyalty to his teammates and self-sacrifice at the highest level of sailing competition made the committee’s decision, in the end, an easy one.”
“Nick was a driving force in Paralympic sailing and an amazing example to all of us that nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it regardless of the challenges that may stand in your way,” said Betsy Alison, 2008 Paralympic Team Head Coach. “It’s a fitting tribute that this award be presented at the Clagett Memorial Regatta. He spent so many memorable moments with some of these sailors, and contributed to bringing in sailors to compete at these events.”
Scandone becomes the first disabled sailor to win US SAILING’s W. Van Alan Clark, Jr. Sportsmanship Trophy. He joins a long list of highly respected sailors who have received the award since the award was first presented 20 years ago. The list includes such well-known sailors as Olin J. Stephens, Dave Perry, Harry Carpenter, and Buddy Melges.
Sportsmanship is difficult to define but easily recognizable. The high standards exemplified by the true sportsperson are vital to the health of sailing, which is why each year US SAILING presents its prestigious W. Van Alan Clark, Jr. Trophy. This award honors those people who are outstanding examples of dedication and graciousness in the sport of sailing, and for sharing these talents with others. Nominees include sailors who have performed a single exemplary act or who have consistently exemplified the finest tradition of the sport both on and off the water, through instruction and encouragement of others.
More information about the W. Van Alan Clark, Jr. National Sportsmanship Trophy can be found on US SAILING's website at http://about.ussailing.org/Awards/National_Sportsmanship_Award.htm.
About US SAILING
The United States Sailing Association (US SAILING), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership for the sport in the United States. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US SAILING is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. US SAILING offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics. For more information, please visit www.ussailing.org.