Mark Zagol Receives US Sailing's Outstanding Program Director Award

Maeve Ryan
February 8, 2016

Sailing Program Director Mark Zagol received US Sailing's Outstanding Program Director Award for 2015!

US Sailing, the governing body for the sport of sailing in the United States, annually presents the Outstanding Program Director Award to one individual in the nation that has made notable contributions to promote public access sailing in the development and organization of a sailing program.

A graduate of Old Dominion University, Zagol was a two-time collegiate All-American sailor and collegiate national champion for both fleet and team racing. He joined NESS after a 12-year career as a collegiate coach which included coaching at the United States Coast Guard Academy, the United States Merchant Marine Academy, and Old Dominion.

Zagol was a US Team Racing National Champion in 2005 and the 2013 505 North American Champion. He was also part of the team at NESS that accepted US Sailing's Outstanding Community Sailing Program Award for 2013, given to recognize NESS's contributions and outreach to the community as well as program excellence.

For the past four years, Zagol has worked to expand youth and adult sailing and powerboating program offerings at NESS. He also had an integral role in piloting and implementing US Sailing's REACH program at NESS, which uses sailing as an educational platform to teach STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), and is currently a REACH educator. In the fall of 2014, Zagol started the first ever high school sailing team in New London, and prepared them to compete in the Lawrence A. White Trophy USCGA Fall High School Invitational Regatta in the fall of 2015.

NESS's Executive Director Cindy Nickerson commented, "At NESS, Mark devotes countless hours and tons of energy to sharing his love of sailing with NESS's students in the community, whether through on-the-water coaching or fleet preparation. Mark has taken the initiative to continually enhance and expand his sailing programs and maintain high standards for instruction. He has truly been a driving force behind NESS's growth from a summer-only program with 580 students in 2011 to a year-round program serving over 4,700 students today."

In addition to his racing credentials, Zagol holds the following certifications and licenses: US Sailing Level 3 Coach, US Sailing Level 1 Instructor Trainer, ARC Waterfront Lifeguard, US Powerboating Instructor, and US Coast Guard Captain. Zagol, who resides in Pawcatuck, was honored last week at the 2016 Sailing Leadership Forum in San Diego, California, an event for sailing instructors, coaches, race officers, program directors, and organization leaders.