SCOTIA — Myles Piotrowski knows the exact day he started dreaming of joining the United States Coast Guard.
That was July 23, 2012. Piortowski was on a trip to Lake Champlain, and a big storm sabotaged his plans to head into the water. Waiting for the storm to break, he searched on the radio for a weather report . . . and that’s when the 11-year-old sailer stumbled upon his future.
“I went to the wrong channel and ended up on the Coast Guard’s channel,” Piortowski said in a recent phone interview. “Somebody had made a distress call, so I listened and thought, ‘If that was us and we needed help, the Coast Guard was there to do it.’”
That was when Piortowski, who was just discovering his love of sailing, realized he wanted to be the one to help.
Eight years later, the 2019 Scotia-Glenville High School graduate is now celebrating his appointment to attend the United States Coast Guard Academy. He will be sworn in on June 29 as a member of the class of 2024.
Piotrowski — who attended Marion Military Institute in Alabama this year before the pandemic moved his studies online — is looking forward to studying naval architecture and marine engineering as one of fewer than 400 accepted students out of over 2,000 yearly applicants.
He first got his taste of sailing at age 10, when a man invited him to join his sailing crew in Galloway Lake. As he heads to the academy this year, he’ll also be joining its Offshore Sailing Team.
“It’s hard to believe,” Piotrowski said. “Almost half my life I’ve been sailing when I think about it.”
After graduating from Scotia-Glenville, Piotrowki’s journey continued at Marion Military Institute. Although he had to stay home after his spring break because of the pandemic, he’s thankful that many of the friends he met, approximately 30 of them, will now be joining him at USCGA.
“It really made me much better prepared going in than I would have been coming right out of high school just because I’ve had the introduction to the military-type school,” Piotrowski said. “I really had to learn how to budget my time and do a lot of other things, keeping a busy schedule and getting everything done.”
Now, Piotrowski is on his path to Connecticut for four years of being a cadet at USCGA, where he prepares to become an officer and the leader he’s wanted to be since he was just 11. But, just like everyone else, he’s going to work his way through the storm first.
“I think it’s very important that I listen to the senior enlisted personnel who are already there where I go, because some of those guys could be old enough to be my father after 20-plus years of serving,” Piotrowski said. “It’s definitely important in the early phases of my career.”
Piotrowski’s father, Ed Piotrowski, says his son’s dedication to sailing and passion for joining the Coast Guard should serve as an example for young people.
“To see all of his hard work pay off in achieving his appointment to the Coast Guard Academy has been very rewarding as parents [along with his mother Kelly],” Ed Piotrowski said. “I think Myles is a great role model to any young person who has a dream. If you stay focused and work hard, you can achieve your dream.”
As for the rest of his career, Myles Piotrowski is already thinking ahead as he studies naval architecture and marine engineering.
“I thought about even after the Coast Guard, because there has to be a way that I could still continue to impact things if I ended up in a civilian job, potentially for defense contractors, something like that, to help them design the next generation of ships,” he said.