Feature Story on Senior Sailor - Chloe Constants
Sailing has always been a special part of Old Dominion University senior Chloe Constants’ life. She started sailing at a young age and after an injury ended her soccer career, Constants decided to continue her sailing and academic career at ODU.
“I grew up in Annapolis, Maryland and its known as a sailing town and my family grew up sailing,” Constants said. “My dad did it and he passed it on to me starting at a young age and my sister started sailing as well.
Constants knew that sailing would always be with her, but on one summer day in June everything changed.
Tragedy struck the family on June 23, 2011, when Olivia Constants, Chloe’s sister, passed away in a sailing accident. Olivia was doing a training exercise with her club team when her boat capsized and she became trapped underneath.
The news was devastating to the Constants family and the sailing community. The news hit Constants hard as she was preparing to return to Old Dominion for her second season on the sailing team.
“It happened after my freshman year heading into my sophomore year. I was coming into my sophomore year of sailing and it was really hard,” Constants said.
ODU Head Coach Mitch Brindley and his staff gave Constants time away from sailing, knowing it would be important in the healing process.
“We gave her a lot of time to heal and recognized that it was going to be really hard for her to get back on the water, but we didn’t want to push her,” Brindley said. “But we knew that getting back on the water would be very healing for her. We took our time, I think the first time back in the fall she wanted to try and get on the water and the first thing we did was put her in the boat with Charles (assistant coach Charles Higgins) and they just went sailing.”
Constants appreciated how caring the coaching staff was for her and proved to be a big reason why her return was so successful.
“My coaches and teammates were very helpful and supported me and my family,” Constants said. “Mitch, Charles and Cara were very supportive of me getting back on the water. They have been very supportive and I think that has made me so successful in my sailing career here.”
Like Brindley mentioned, getting Constants back on the water would be difficult, but it was therapeutic for her to get back out doing what she was good at.
“I found that sailing helped me cope. I couldn’t quit what I did, so I just used all this anger and sadness and everything I had pent up and just sailed for my sister,” Chloe said. “To not just sail for myself, but also be a good example for all the people who were sad and hurting. They were all looking at me to help them through.”
Following the accident Chloe worked very hard and was focused on doing everything she could to help the team win. She became dead set on the prize ahead and helping her put her team on top
“She became a lot more serious, and very intense. She works really hard and is very focused,” Brindley said. “However, that also presents its own challenges and something we work on with her to bring it down sometimes.”
Her attitude on the water might have changed, but her attitude off the water changed as well making her a more compassionate person.
“I find myself not being so self centered about my own goals and I try to help the team more. It’s so important to look at other people and have compassion and just be a better teammate,” Constants said. “I think I’m a better teammate now. I think I’m a silent leader. I’m not that vocal but I think people can slowly look up to me and I try to help everyone.”
Constants has taken all of her emotion from her sister and family and turned herself into an All-American for Old Dominion. She was named an All-American crew in 2013 and developed into a great teammate for skipper Dillon Paiva. The duo finished fourth at the 2012 ICSA Eastern semifinals to advance to the Gill Dinghy National Championships.
The sailing accomplishments are all the more impressive considering Constants was looking at soccer to take her through college but an injury that required surgery took away that plan.
“Soccer was my No. 1 sport, I grew up playing both but it was kind of easier to pursue soccer and I was really high up and did a lot with the sport until my junior year of high school,” Constants said. “I just lost everything and didn’t have a plan a back up plan, but then I was like what about sailing. I came into college not having the sailing background as everyone I was with because I only did sailing for two years in high school.”
Despite not having the same sailing background as her teammates, Constants made up for it with the aggressiveness that she brought over from her years of playing soccer.
And now as a senior leader on the sailing team, she is the one with the sailing background that her teammates look up to. After sailing with Dillon Paiva on the co-ed side for two years, Constants is now sailing with junior Andrea Luna.
“Now she’s sailing with Andrea, and Andrea needed that. She needed someone who is going to push her, and Chloe has,” Brindley said. “She has brought a lot of experience to their boat and that has helped Andrea tremendously. Someone that is that good and physical has forced Andrea to be as well.”
Throughout her entire ODU career, Constants knew she wanted to be good and be an important part of the Monarch sailing team. The passing of her sister did not derail those aspirations but helped her achieve them even more.
“I knew from the beginning I wanted to be really good and make an impact on this team,” Constants said. “I saw an opportunity and I really wanted to make my sister and everyone around me proud.”
It’s safe to say she has done just that.