Feb. 04, 2009
I fell in love with the sport of dragon boat racing in 1996 – even though I never got into a boat until 1997. Having followed the Canadian team play in the World Junior Hockey Championships recently, gave me a shot of adrenaline, it reignited the sporting enthusiasm within, it served as the tonic, the ideal elixir, the perfect aphrodisiac for a Canadian dragon boat coach.
That’s right, I said dragon boat coach! What stands out most to me about the World Junior Hockey Championships, is the overwhelming sense of camaraderie, togetherness and accomplishment Canadians derive from rooting for a team of young athletes. Canadians really do savour this opportunity to unite in common purpose through athletic achievement.
As a Canadian and a dragon boat coach, the final game highlighted both the preeminent reason we enjoy the great sport of dragon boat racing, and where my eternal passion for this sport began. In the summer of 1996, I was 18 years-old, the same age as sniper John Tavares, the on-ice leader of our heroic Canadian junior team. A mediocre flatwater kayaker on the local club circuit (think Adam Vankoeverden … but a whole lot slower) I had an overwhelming single-mindedness – to accomplish only one thing – win Canadian Championships … in Juvenile Men’s War Canoe.
My entire training regimen that year was designed to accomplish my goal, and never in my entire athletic career had I been more committed. I think it was at that time that I began to realize, it was the journey, the process; that meant more than the result. The personal growth, the discipline of mind and body, and beginning to understand the complexities of sport were the things I truly gained from the experience. The National Championship and my pursuit for the elusive gold medal certainly became an important ingredient for the impression branded in me in the summer of 1996: it sparked a serious emotional connection to this sport and left an indelible passion in me for team watersport; enter dragon boat racing. It’s these experiences that I had as an 18-year-old that I was reminded of in last Monday’s Canadian win.
Of course, all of this brings me to the obvious connection to dragon boat racing: the importance of camaraderie, togetherness and collective accomplishment. It is these attributes that we gain from dragon boat racing that in my eyes make it the perfect sport to coach.
The journey can be made so valuable because the sport is so intrinsically tied to the importance of camaraderie, togetherness and collective accomplishment – three things that the World Junior Hockey Championships inspire in Canadians every year. So that’s how my love and passion for dragon boat racing began: the mentality of a hockey player put into a competitive war canoe crew competing on a National level.
More on my coaches, my teammates and my introduction to dragon boat in upcoming blogs.
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