ODU Sailing Feature Story: Jill Fattibene
Entering college isn’t easy and when you throw athletics into the mix it’s twice as hard. From early morning workouts to long, tiring practices day in and day out, athletes are faced with the task of being successful in academics and their sport of choice. As the years pass and graduation day draws near, it’s time to make real life decisions about the next step in life. Jill Fattibene, a senior exercise science major, is a member of the sailing team who is taking on a substantial 17 credits this semester. But she’s not complaining! She enjoys it because she stays busy. Jill has had plenty of experience with juggling school and the team as she is well on her way to graduating in December.
A native of Southport, Connecticut, Fattibene grew up sailing at a local yacht club. She sailed throughout her youth and has continued to do so during her college career. Jill enjoys the sport so much she hopes to continue after school. She started at an early age but truly found a passion for it in high school.
“I started sailing when I was about nine. I progressed to doing it in the summer, all through high school and now in college. In high school, when it got a little bit more competitive and I started to see where I could go from sailing (such as colleges and what not) I became more passionate about the sport,” Fattibene said.
Jill’s position is known as the crew. She grew up competing in coed teams. However, she has recently stepped away from the traditional co-ed teams that she’s used to, and is now a part of the women’s team.
“I have been doing co-ed up until a couple of weeks ago when I got moved to the women’s team. So, it was my first time dealing with a woman skipper in college and I loved it just as much as a male skipper,” Fattibene said.
The crew sits in the front and basically tells the skipper what is to come in the race. The crew provides a lot of situational information such as: where the other boats are and where the wind is coming from. Jill has been participating in this position for eight years but recently has been able to test her skills as a skipper.
“I have actually skippered two regattas myself— I had never done it before! So I got to be in the back of the boat, which I loved! It was so much fun and a whole different feel. It definitely has been an eye-opening experience to try both positions and I think everyone on the team should try to do it,” Fattibene said.
In order to stay motivated, she looks to her teammates for support and guidance. Jill loves the fact that her team is sort of like a family away from home. The sailing team is pretty much the same as a family—they all look out for one another. Everyone interacts and hangs out with each other and that is something she truly enjoys about her team.
“You’re not going to get anywhere if the whole team doesn’t participate,” Fattibene said.
One of the aspects critical to the success of the sailing team is team communication. In reference to team communication something Jill pointed out was that when they are out on the boat there is no way of getting away from the other teammate. The fact that the team is so close definitely helps them in and out of the regattas. She mentioned that a difference between sailing and other sports is the long hours (Some races last from 9 a.m-6 p.m.). There are plenty of other aspects about sailing that may not automatically come to mind such as the physical and mental demands. Regardless, Jill and her teammates love and enjoy what they do.
Although Jill isn’t completely sure of her next step just yet she did have a few words to say to the members of the team following in her footsteps. She hopes to pass down everything that she’s learned to the new crews and skippers because she really wants them to do well in the future.
“Work! If you put in the work, you’ll see the results.” Fattibene said.