SANDWICH – The Nauset sailors had set up their boats and lugged all of their gear to their home at Orleans Yacht Club. It felt good to have all of the heavy lifting done, a difficult-but-necessary set of chores that needed to be completed before the Warriors could turn their attention to the 2020 season.
And then Friday the 13th happened.
The team still remembers it well. March 13, 2020. That was the day the team learned it wouldn’t be starting its season because of COVID-19, which was beginning to spread across the world.
“It was really sad because we had moved all of our boats and gear and everything to the yacht club,” said Nauset senior captain Sammy Maes. “The day before we were supposed to be on the water they were like, ‘Nope, we’re done.’”
“We were literally all rigged and ready to go, and then the next day we were told no,” said coach Alexis Mathison when asked about last year. “Despite all of that, these guys have stayed really positive, which is really encouraging.”
The team was even happy to be hitting the water Thursday afternoon despite encountering steady winds and some rain at Oakcrest Cove in Sandwich, where the Warriors and Blue Knights met in a Cape and Islands League matchup.
Sandwich earned a 2-1 victory over Nauset, which finished its season with a 5-4 record.
This year wasn’t about wins and losses, however; it was about capturing those final sailing memories.
“It wouldn’t be senior year without having a season and being able to participate in it,” said senior captain Michela Galazzi, who serves as crew in the same boat as Maes, the skipper.
Galazzi said that the Warriors actually improved after missing out on last season. The team made the most of its situation and continued to meet last spring. When they reconvened this season, they instantly clicked after holding off-water meetings.
“The year made us a lot better,” Galazzi said. “We’d have meetings and stuff over Zoom and discuss the rules and stuff like that because we couldn’t be out on the water. We came in pretty strong (this year) and actually won our first three regattas, which was a big feat for us because the past few years had been rebuilding years.”
Part of the team’s success stems from its leaders, Maes and Galazzi, as well as junior captains Caroline Keefe-Jones and Olivia Horton. But it also helps to have Mathison at the helm alongside her father, Mark.
The father-daughter tandem has been involved with the school’s sailing program since Alexis’s days as a student-athlete. After graduating in 2011, she began teaching Spanish at Nauset and took over the program in 2017 with the help of her dad, who has taught and coached at the school for decades.
“It’s one of those humbling experiences of life to have a vocation and then have children who see the value in that and have grown up and kind of chosen that path themselves,” said the elder Mathison, who is also a member of the Orleans Select Board. “Having a daughter that’s a teacher that’s respected and loved by her students — there’s no better feeling than that.”
The younger Mathison did admit aspects of returning to action were stressful, but in a good way. One challenge to overcome was the fact there was a record turnout this spring because of the state’s unique plan to add an additional high school sports season into the calendar. The influx of sailors made it difficult to find wet suits, but the head coach said her sailors and their parents were patient and understanding.
In the end, Mathison was thrilled that she had the opportunity to return to the water and create additional sailing memories with the senior class, which arrived at the school as freshmen the same year she came back as a teacher and coach.
“It’s cool that we’ve kind of grown together that way,” she said. “I wish more teachers were coaches because you already have that relationship with them as students. It’s a special thing.”
Email Brad Joyal at email@example.com