By Angelika Menendez
Social Media Manager
Time began to pass away, the winds began to pick up and the temperature began to drop at Eastchester Bay as Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) sophomore Grace Howie began to wrestle against the rough waters to drive her sailing boat back to shore. Howie is a part of the school’s club sailing team that has been around for 16 years now, after coming back from a 27 year hiatus. Despite its lack of varsity status, the team continues to thrive and recruit amazing talent from across the country. One of these members, hailing from over 1,000 miles away, is Grace Howie.
Howie was born in New York, but moved to Miami, Florida in the second grade, where she grew up and discovered her love of sailing. Her mother signed her up for lessons when they moved, and since then her passion has flourished. Soon after, at the age of eight, Howie began to race and sail competitively in competitions all across Miami. She said she “loves being out in the ocean” and that it became her “outlet to get away from everything.”
While sailing, Howie attended Coral Gables Senior High School where she was in the International Baccalaureate program, co-captain of the varsity basketball team and became the school’s student council president her senior year. All the while, she helped establish the Coral Gables sailing team and hoped to continue sailing in college. When she was looking for colleges with sailing teams, she discovered Fordham University and came in contact with the coach, Johnny Norfleet. Norfleet invites prospective students to visit during one of their sailing sessions if students, like Howie, are interested in the team. This is exactly what Howie did. “I got to go to practice and meet the team. It sold me, and I knew I wanted to come here,” Howie said.
After coming to Fordham, Howie said she “couldn’t imagine [herself] at any other school.” She said her favorite part about the campus is that she is “in a bubble in the Bronx and is still able to sail in the most amazing city.” Despite the misconception that there is nowhere to sail in New York, the Fordham team gets to go to the water every day to sail and also gets to enjoy the skyline and city lights from their boats. “It’s so different from what I’m used to when sailing,” Howie said. “No one realizes there’s water around the city. It’s very unique and crazy.”
Howie also explained that the team is extremely close. They see each other every day for practice and work together to make the team the best that it can be. “It’s a great team and amazing community. We all connect with this amazing sport, go to school in NYC and can still go to the ocean every day.” But, not only does Howie get to sail in the city, she also gets to travel with the team. One of her favorite experiences travelling with the team was when they went to Charleston, SC for a spring break training camp. Howie and the team practiced for nationals there, and she thought it was great being in warm weather again.
Besides this experience, one of her favorite memories is when the team had a fundraising gala at the New York Yacht Club in downtown Manhattan. She got to dress up and socialize with donors to raise a ton of money for the team, since they don’t receive a lot of funding from Fordham. In fact, despite the team garnering national attention and building a strong reputation as a competitor, Fordham does not recognize them as a varsity sport, and Howie believes it would be “cooler if [the sailing team] were recognized for all [our] hard work.”
Expecting to graduate with her bachelor’s in economics and a minor in German in 2020, Howie hopes to continue sailing and living by the water after graduation. She said she may even want to coach sailing, which is something she did back home in Miami over the summer. One thing is for sure: sailing is a part of Howie that she will continue to carry with her all through her life.