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@School: Mimi Roller

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Jan. 27, 2008 — Mimi Roller is a young woman with a clear goal: She wants to represent the U.S. Virgin Islands at the 2008 Olympics in China sailing on a Laser Radial.
"New Zealand is the next qualifying regatta," says the 16-year-old St. John resident.
She's off to Auckland, New Zealand with her father, Hugo Roller II, and Florida-based coach, Brett Davis, for almost a month in March in hopes of getting one of the eight spots left for Olympic teams.
If she doesn't qualify the Virgin Islands that way, the V.I. Sailing Association will apply for wild-card status for her. This slot goes to countries that don't already have representation.
"Hopefully I'm able to go," she says.
However, Roller faces challenges because she only weighs 125 pounds. Most women sailing Laser Radials hit the scales at 150 pounds, which means they have the edge when it comes to windy conditions.
Auckland is windy, but China is known for its light winds Roller says. She hopes her prowess in light winds will be a factor when the decisionmakers consider the Virgin Islands' request for an entry.
Roller has been heading in this direction for the past several years, flying off to hone her skills at regattas in such far-flung places as Cartagena, Colombia, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Cascas and Portugal, as well as locations all over the mainland. After she returns from New Zealand, she'll go to Puerto Rico for another regatta and then to the Laser Mid-Winters East in Clearwater, Fla., for yet another regatta.
She learned to sail with her brother Hugo III, 18 and also an Antilles senior, when the two took classes at the St. John Kids and the Sea program. Initially she wasn't keen on sailing, but once her brother started winning races she decided to give it another try.
"I started going to regattas, and they were so much fun," she says.
As she gets ready for New Zealand, she's staying in shape by going to the gym and sailing at the St. Thomas Yacht Club after she finishes classes at Antilles School on St. Thomas.
Trekking off every day to St. Thomas from Coral Bay for her senior year makes for a very busy day. Roller says she's up at 5 a.m. and doesn't get home until 7 p.m.
While traveling to St. Thomas for school is definitely a challenge, traveling is the part she likes best about sailing.
"It's so much fun to go to different countries," she says. "I make many different friends, and there's always good shopping."
She also likes the sailing because it focuses her mind and allows her to set goals.
Going to college is another goal. Roller says she has applied to Yale University, Harvard University, Boston College, Tufts University, Bowdoin College and St. Mary's College of Maryland. If she doesn't get accepted by any of these, she'll apply to the College of Charleston.
"Yale is my first choice," she says.
She's not sure what she plans to study.
"I love art, so it may be a minor, but I always liked to write, and psychology and sociology are interesting," she says. Since she won't have to declare a major initially, she'll have time to decide.
Roller also finds her advanced-placement environmental-science class at Antilles in interesting, so that may be an option.
She's no stranger to New Haven, Conn., where Yale is located. Roller was born there when her parents headed north to be near her father's parents for her birth.
Her parents own Coral Bay Gardens, a plant nursery. Her mother, Josephine Roller, is best known for her organic greens sold at grocery stores and served in salads at restaurants around the islands.
"I'm just so proud," Josephine says. "It gives me a lot of strength when your kids do well."
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