spotlight stories

spotlight on one student's story

Meet Kinney Glass, a Rocking the Boat alumnus recently brought on to the full-time staff.

Kinney Glass spent his childhood in the Georgia outdoors. “You can actually go outside and run in the woods, explore creeks. I was outside most of the time growing up” he recalls. When he moved with his mother to the Bronx at the age of 16, he figured he was saying goodbye to all that, to the freedom he felt cruising a Georgia lake in his friend’s bass boat. He had also just said goodbye to his older brother, who was now serving a 48-year sentence in a Georgia prison. Kinney feared his new home in the distressed neighborhood of Hunts Point held the same pitfalls he had seen claim his brother. He was severely behind in school credits and in danger of not graduating high school. Some of his friends seemed to be testing the edge. “I was trying to not get in trouble.” So when Rocking the Boat recruited at his high school, he jumped at the chance to sign up for its On-Water Program. “I have to do this, it’s two blocks from my house!” In his junior and senior years he spent four afternoons a week at Rocking the Boat, exploring the Bronx River, staying on a productive path, and through an arrangement with his school, earning enough credits in the program to finish high school on time.

Rocking the Boat did not have a full-time sailing program then. Kinney would wait all year for the annual week-long sailing and camping trip up the coast of the Long Island Sound, just to get a chance to try his hand at the sails. “I didn’t know what I was doing, but they could see I was interested.” He was obviously hooked, and was tapped to work as a Program Assistant when Rocking the Boat launched its Sailing Youth Development Program in 2016. Kinney along with classmate Gianmarco Bocchini were the first former participants to earn their US Sailing Small Boat Level 1 Instructor certifications and help teach the new program. “We took it at the same time, but I got mine signed first,” he joked.


Since then, the world of sailing has opened life-changing opportunities to Kinney that might not have been possible otherwise, but he that has seized with gusto. At the end of that year, Kinney went to work for a renowned City Island sailmaking loft and frequent sailing program collaborator. There he trained in a highly specialized skill of sail measuring and stitching, but was also introduced to the business’s clientele, many of whom were yacht owners and sail racers in need of sharp crew members. “My boss there, he understood me on a personal level, he called me his apprentice. The guys there would point out stuff I do and say, ‘Keep doing that. That’s what a captain wants in a crew.’” Soon Kinney was crewing in regattas and on trips delivering sailboats to and from the Bahamas; his first trip abroad was by sea. He found himself moving up in responsibility to control of the jib and all the sails at the bow of the boat. A little daunted at first, he realized he knew the sails so well from having learned to make them, and was confident in his general sailing skills from his experience at Rocking the Boat.

When the need for an interim sailing instructor came up at Rocking the Boat in the fall of 2018, Kinney says it was his mother who put it into perspective. “She said ‘Rocking the Boat was always there for you. Now you gotta be there for them.’” He is still with the organization, now as a full-time staff member, the Programs and Operations Assistant. A sign of how important Kinney has become to Rocking the Boat, a veteran Program Assistant recently reflected that the new class of Program Assistant applicants were all motivated to be “the next Kinney.”

kids don’t just build boats, boats build kids

rocking the boat
812 edgewater road
bronx, ny 10474
phone: 718.466.5799
fax: 718.466.2892