A familiar name popped up as the Canadian Yachting Association announced its 2011 annual award winners. Murray McCullough, SLSC racing coach in 2006, 2007 and 2009, is CYA’s 2011 coach of the year. This award recognizes Murray’s fine technical knowledge of our sport, but far more than that, it recognizes his leadership and his personal skills – his ability to motivate and to embue in his athletes a sense of good sportsmanship along with a keen competititive spirit.
When Murray coached at Sturgeon he desparately wanted his sailors to do well, but not at all costs, not at the cost of sacrificing the code of fair play that is so much a part of the sport he loves. Once on the race course, Murray heard that one of his charges had mentioned to a fellow team member that he had grazed a mark when rounding, but that no one had seen the incident, no one had protested and so he thought he had got away with it. Well, no one had seen the incident and he had got away with it, but after a brief chat with Murray, the athlete went to the race officials and withdrew from the race because that was the right thing to do. Sail fast, sail flat, but do it always within the rules – do it right, sail with a conscience.
Murray has moved on from Sturgeon and is now Ontario Sailing’s High Performance Coach, coaching athletes who compete at national and international levels, some with their eyes on the Olympics. His manner with these atheletes is as it was for his Sturgeon charges – lead quietly by example, train hard and sail competitively, keep your eye on the goal of winning, but do so always living by a code of fair play and sportsmanship.
The CYA Coach of the Year Award was established in 1998 to recognize an instructor/coach ‘who has contributed to the advancement of sailing’. The candidate must: a) Have shown leadership qualities. b) Through his/her behaviour and manner, have set an example for other instructors/coaches. Murray did both for us and is continuing to do so for the elite level athletes that he now coaches – A very deserving award winner and one who we can proudly describe as a Sturgeon Laker – one of us. Congratulations Murray!