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Establishing your Identity in a Team Sport

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Basketball didn’t cut it for him. Neither did baseball. In fact, none of these “traditional” sports seemed to fit for Preston Anderson.

It wasn’t until his mother took him to sailing camp that Preston found his niche. He knew that being on the water, controlling where the wind took him is where he wanted to be.

One thing was different for Preston, however. The sport of sailing was and still is predominately a white male sport. Being African American, Preston faced countless attacks on his personal character because of his skin color. His peers wouldn’t let him fit in; calling him derogatory names and challenging his identity.

That didn’t stop him.

Preston stayed on the water; learning that racing is where he belonged. Now a sophomore at Bowdoin College, Preston shares the water with like-minded sailors in the collegiate competitive sailing theatre.

As a collegiate sailor, Preston has led efforts toward establishing The Inclusivity, Diversity, and Equity (TIDE) Task Force to diversify and facilitate an inclusive sailing community where all members are supported and respected. The collegiate sailing community has been open to and embraces the changes Preston and the rest of the TIDE Task Force are proposing.

While there’s a long road ahead, I commend Preston for being an agent of change. It takes discipline to stick with a sport and it takes even more determination to not let others’ attacks on your identity deter you from your goals. Way to go Preston!

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