Meet Mills Botham, our Hoofer Sailing Club Commodore!
Year in school: Junior
How long have you been a member of WUD/Hoofers?
"I've been a member of the Hoofer Sailing Club for ten years. I joined when I was ten years old and began taking lessons in the widely acclaimed Hoofer Youth Sailing Program. I did that for four years, and was then hired as a volunteer Youth Assistant, helping older instructors teach in the youth program. Two years later, I was hired as a full time paid instructor, and the summer of 2018 will be my fifth teaching lessons on Lake Mendota. In the Fall of 2016, I was elected to the position of Commodore and served in that role for a year before successfully running for reelection in the fall of 2017, making this my second term as Commodore."
Why did you join WUD/Hoofers?
"I joined Hoofers because I grew up in and around Madison, and knew that I was never going to have a better chance to learn to sail than on Lake Mendota. It turns out that I was right, and when my mother signed me up for my first week with the Hoofer Youth Sailing Program, I was hooked by the end of it."
What do you do in your role with WUD/Hoofers?
"My role as Commodore is broad. I manage everything from day-to-day running of the Club, to fundraising efforts, to chairing a twenty-four-person Board of Captains which assists me in overseeing the Club. Occasionally, if I'm lucky, I find to time to teach a few sailing lessons. The total Sailing Club membership is around 1100 people at our peak in midsummer. It's my responsibility to all of them to ensure that the club runs smoothly, and that their time with us is not only safe and educational, but leaves them with memories and experiences for a lifetime."
What is one of your favorite experiences from your time at WUD/Hoofers?
"There hasn't been one particular moment that comes to mind, but my greatest joy as Commodore has been my opportunity to foster growth and success within the club. I've gotten not only to teach people how to sail, but to watch them grow and become better sailors on their own. I've watched people fall in love with the feeling of being on a boat, and see the same gleam in their eyes when they come back on shore after a full day on the water that I had in mine years ago. I've had the pleasure of finding people with drive and encouraging them to hone their skills by putting them in positions of leadership. With only a handful of exceptions, they've all risen to the challenges I've put before them and have made me exceedingly proud to work with them. Regardless of whether or not I personally make much of an impact on the Sailing Club, I will leave my term as Commodore with joyful memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I'd like to think I'll be a better person for it."
If there was one thing you could make sure everyone knew about WUD/Hoofers, what would it be?
"I'd tell anyone who would listen that if they want to learn to sail, the Hoofer Sailing Club is one of the best places in the world to do it. You don't need any background in sailing and many come into it having never been in a boat before. Anyone with a willing attitude can learn to sail, and will find a friendly welcome waiting for them for them at Hoofers."