Organized Chaos: The Double Life of Sailing Star Carly Shevitz

It’s 9 a.m. and Carly Shevitz just finished her morning workout. Next, she dashes to and from classes and then to her executive board meeting at the Jewish Student Union. Senior Carly Shevitz has served on the Jewish Student Union’s executive board for three years in a row, and now serves as president. At the meeting, she discusses plans for the JSU’s Shabbat dinner next Friday, and then she’s off – to practice sailing for the 2016 Olympics.

Carly started sailing at 10 years old along the river she lived on with her family in Rumson, New Jersey. Her true turning point, however, came when Carly moved to Santa Barbara, California at the age of fourteen.  As a middle school student, she started competing on the high school team and consequently gained significant exposure in her division. After her junior year of high school, Carly participated in her first world championship with the Junior U.S. team abroad. This is where she would first set her eyes on Olympic glory. She states, “I remember attending that opening ceremony where each team was walking in their team uniforms with the flag from their country. I could only imagine this ceremony at the Olympics.”

Carly doesn’t have to imagine this glory now as a senior at the College of Charleston, for she is inches, or races, away from it. Carly sails a 470 class sailboat, a two person boat with three sails, in the women’s division. She and her sailing partner have qualified for the U.S. Olympic training team, which means her team is one of the two top teams in her class in the country. After graduating in May, Carly will train for two years straight for Rio 2016, which she believes would be the perfect closure to her sailing experience, and make the past five years of training undeniably worth it.

It is 6 p.m., and as Carly arrives to the JSU weekly Wednesday night dinner, there are no traces of a training Olympiad – except the Sperrys on her feet. Although her closest friends know about her double life, many of her Jewish friends have no idea. They know her as the dedicated, friendly president of their organization and in part, Carly wants to keep it that way. She says, “I like to try to be the best I can be at everything, which is the competitive side of me. I also think it is a fun game to hide that competitive side sometimes and not tell anyone about sailing.” Carly prides herself on being put together, and this “double life” routine allows her to do just that. She gets to receive international sailing recognition all while finishing her degree in Jewish Studies and Exercise Science at the College. Many coaches and students have urged her to drop school for training, but as she puts simply, “For me, I felt like I could do it all at once, so why give anything up?”

Although Carly Shevitz may be leading a double life, it isn’t hard to see why she’s smoothly sailing through. Across her social circles and extracurriculars she remains a focused, well-balanced leader. She remarks, “I think my mind is naturally racing – which is really helpful. When we’re on the water I have a rotation of things I need to go through – I need to look at the clouds, the water, the wind and the other boats. I think trading on and off like that has really helped me. Also, my problem solving from being on the executive board at the JSU sometimes randomly gives me really good leadership qualities that help me on the Olympic sailing circuit.”

Even if unintentionally, the skills Carly acquires from different parts of her life often intersect in a natural and relevant way. For instance, she plans on taking her experience in sailing and applying it to her courses in her exercise science degree, and eventually in her career as a physical therapist. Currently, Carly is beginning her two plus years of practice in preparation for the 2016 Rio Olympics, and also training for the single-handed nationals for College of Charleston’s sailing team. She concludes, “[My interests] play off each other in a really fun way. I’m thrilled I get to do basically everything I’m interested in all at once.” Look for her on campus – be it the president of JSU, the eager student, or the professional sailor – it’s all in a day’s work for the organized chaos of Carly Shevitz.


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Christina D'Antoni is the Features Editor at Cistern Yard News, and an intern at the food culture magazine The Local Palate. She is a CofC senior, a writer, and above all, a foodie looking for any and every excuse to hit up Xiao Bao Biscuit.

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