MSU Sailing Center popular with students, community

By Beth Waldon

/ The State News

The MSU Sailing Club offers classes out of Lake Lansing for those wishing to sail.

“MSU acquired this property and some boats through a gift in the spring of 1997, and I was hired at that time to put recreational and educational programming together for our department,” Ken Warshaw, MSU sport facility professional with the department of recreational sports and fitness services, said.

Several MSU students assist Warshaw with instructing beginners.

“The backbone of our operation (is) MSU student employees,” Warshaw said. “Most of our students (employees) come with minimal sailing skills.”

When applying for the job, prospective student employees are not required to have any sailing experience. Warshaw is more interested in students who have a good attitude and are interested in community involvement.

MSU Alumnus Peter Rocco, who is the lead instructor and supervisor of the program, has been instructing beginners through the MSU Sailing Center for almost three years.

“I was on the sailing team and I was looking for a job,” Rocco said. “I knew about this place from the sailing team and I came out here and talked to Ken and it worked out.”

Rocco began sailing at a young age.

“I started when I was really young, probably like second grade, but I didn’t really get into it until about high school … since then, I’ve been (sailing) every summer,” Rocco said.

Rocco said his favorite part about the job is the public involvement.

“I just love working with all the new people and teaching everyone how to sail,” he said.

Lansing resident Gary Bush purchased a sailboat from the MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center last April and wanted to learn how to properly use it.

“I used to sail when I was 9, so (it has) been a long time,” Bush said. “The boat I bought was like my dad’s when I helped build it.”

Bush said he has enjoyed all eight lessons and is excited to put his new boat to use.

Prospective sailors can call the MSU Sailing Center and register over the phone. MSU students receive a discount.

Warshaw said students are allowed to receive one credit for the program through the Department of Kinesiology.

Classes held in September are exclusively for MSU students receiving credit for the class, but May, June, July and August are open to everyone.

Warshaw said the program has taught all ages how to sail, ranging from children as young as 5 up to senior citizens in their mid-80s.

“The challenges are on so many different levels and there’s an enormous amount of satisfaction for us as instructors when we take people who know nothing about sailing and … a month later, they’ve acquired a lifelong skill,” Warshaw said.

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