US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics Coach Betsy Alison was awarded the Gay S. Lynn Memorial Trophy award for her outstanding contribution to sailors with disabilities.
“Disabled sailing enriches our sport,” said Alison. “I’m proud to know that so many people want to embrace disabled sailing.”
Peter Goldman presented this award at US SAILING’s Annual General Meeting in Houston, Texas last weekend. The following are his remarks:
The Gay S. Lynn Memorial Trophy is awarded to an individual or an organization, selected by the Council for Sailors with Disabilities, as having made an outstanding contribution to sailors with disabilities and to the sport of disabled sailing over a sustained period of time.
Tonight, it’s my pleasure to announce that Betsy Alison, the head coach of the US Disabled Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, is being awarded the 2009 Gay S. Lynn Memorial Trophy.
Betsy is a five-time US SAILING Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, a five-time US SAILING Women’s Keel Boat Champion and a two-time Yngling World Champion.
For the last several years, she has redirected her focus from her own high-level racing to coaching those at the highest levels of Paralympic competition. She has provided leadership for the US Paralympic Sailing Team for the last three Paralympic Games. In addition to being the head coach, she manages the entire Paralympic Sailing Program, from the budget, to shipping boats and equipment, to training and development and a whole lot more. Earlier this month her team was faced with a dock workers’ strike in Greece. Somehow, she managed to change all of the transport arrangements- after the boats had left the States- so that the USA boats arrived in time for the 2009 IFDS Worlds. This is just one example of many that best demonstrates her tenacity and devotion to the cause.
Betsy is also responsible for lobbying US SAILING and the US Paralympics for maximum funding and support on behalf of her disabled sailors. The result, due in no small part to Betsy’s efforts, has been that the United States has one of the most successful Paralympic sailing programs in the world.
Betsy Alison is a person of unquestionable dedication who inspires and helps athletes to raise the bar to attain their best performance. For Betsy, her job usually begins well before 9:00 a.m. and it rarely ends at 5:00 p.m.
Betsy operates in a “no excuses” environment, never taking “no” for an answer. A military veteran attending a clinic said to Betsy, “Are you sure you were never a drill sergeant”? One disabled sailing team member likes to joke that Betsy surely must eat nails for breakfast.
Betsy is often called on to be more than a sailing coach, for she is a mentor, a motivator and above all, a friend. She demands much of her sailors but demands no less of herself.
This award is being given to Betsy not only for her work with disabled racing, but just as important, for her efforts in introducing the sport of sailing to the disabled community. In 2004, she volunteered to fly directly from the Paralympics in Athens to lead an on-the-water clinic at Lake Delavan for University of Wisconsin students with disabilities. Several times she led clinics for members of the Wounded Warriors Project. This past June she coordinated coaches, adaptive boats and equipment at the Newport Naval Base in order to provide sailing opportunities for military veterans. This fall, Betsy helped to coordinate an adaptive sailing pilot program for inner-city youth at Piers Park Sailing Program in Boston.
Because of her outstanding contributions to the sport of disabled sailing, it now gives me great pleasure as the representative of the Council for Sailors with Disabilities to present the Gay S. Lynn Memorial Trophy to Betsy Alison.
First presented in 2003, the Gay S. Lynn Trophy annually recognizes outstanding service, over a significant period of time, to disabled sailing and disabled sailors in the United States. The trophy may be awarded to a volunteer, a professional, or an organization. It is the country's only award of its kind for disabled sailing. For more information on US SAILING’s Gay S. Lynn Memorial Trophy, please visit http://racing.ussailing.org/Categories/One_Design/Disabled_Sailing/Gay_S__Lynn_Memorial_Trophy.htm.