Sailor Spotlight: Susan Proko
Susan Proko is another unsung hero of Barnegat Bay. For those who don't know, Susan is the Junior Sailing Coordinator for all of Barnegat Bay. Susan works tirelessly (and all year long) to make sure that the summer months go smoothly for all of the yacht clubs; she is the driving force behind all of the success of the BBYRA Junior Sailing Programs. Susan plays an integral role at both the Toms River and Ocean Gate Yacht Clubs, and she is always on the water either helping run races or sailing herself. Her omnipresence on the bay is noticeable, and we are incredibly lucky to have Susan promoting sailing in our area!
Name: Susan Proko
Schools: Temple University- Elementary Education and Special Education
Yacht Clubs: Toms River YC and Ocean Gate YC
1) Sue you are the coordinator for all of the Junior Sailing Programs on Barnegat Bay. Tell me about your job and what it entails.
As Chair of the BBYRA Junior Sailing Committee I collectively meet with the junior sailing coordinators from all clubs in the BBYRA to set the junior sailing calendar, implement instructor training, help coordinate Area C junior championships, serve as liaison to US Sailing for junior sailing and communicate news from various organizations to all of the coordinators. My biggest role though is to support all the coordinators.
2) Can you give us a status update on the state of junior sailing in our area? Are numbers up, down, or trending similar over the last few years?
Junior sailing is and will always be a strong presence on Barnegat Bay. We saw a slight decrease in program numbers following Sandy but the programs that were effected rebounded quickly. Collectively, the 13 BBYRA yacht clubs teach approximately 900 sailors over 8 weeks during the summer. What makes these club's programs special is that they are generational. I sailed for Ocean Gate and both my children sailed there too. It is common to find third and fourth generations learning to sail at the same clubs as their parents and grandparents.
3) Are there any changes or anything new for junior sailing programs this year?
The junior programs will be putting an emphasis on more fun this summer! There will be less focus on racing. There will, of course, be many regattas and interclubs, but the coordinators felt the sailors weren't having enough fun. We see burn out in other sports, as well as our own, and we want to try and combat that so we have lifelong sailors who will continue to support our 104 year history.
4) I know you've sailed on an A-Cat in previous summers. Do you plan to do that again this summer, and if so, what boat will you be on?
Growing up I learned to sail in my Toms River Pram, then a Laser M-rig and a B-Cat on Saturdays in the BBYRA series. For the past 3 years I was fortunate enough to sail on Vapor during the series. This year I will be crewing on WASP. I'm very excited to sail with people who I grew up sailing with from "downbay".
5) You have two children that have gone through junior sailing programs in the area and then have sailed in college. What are they up to now and are they still involved in sailing?
Both my children, Jeffrey and Abigail, have grown up in the sailing programs. They learned to sail at Ocean Gate YC and then went on the travel laser team out of Island Heights YC. Their foundation and love of the sport has given them the opportunity to sail on their college club team, the Drexel Dragons! They also both sail on Saturdays in the BBYRA crewing on Escows, Ensigns or ACats so they are both still very active in the sport.