I would like to share with you all, my life as a Dragon Boat Paddler. It all started 11 years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer – something no one wants to ever hear in their life – but unfortunately it does happen and we deal with it.
A good friend spoke to my late husband Ray about dragon boat paddling and how great the sport and friendship was for those who had suffered this hideous disease. Being a bit of a stubborn person I didn’t want to go down that path as I felt I didn’t need to be with other people who had been in the same place I had been. In the end I gave in to pressure. I made up my mind I would give it a go. Turned up one morning at 7am – to do the early session. Ha was I put in my place – my very dear friend Karen Kiely was the coach for the early session that morning and she very quickly told me to get over myself (not in so many words) but it was quite clear that I needed to sit this one out and wait for the later session where there would be someone to sit with me in the boat and try to teach me how to paddle. Well I soon learnt it was not as easy as I thought it would be. So many things to put in place – I am so pleased that I persevered, as I have so enjoyed every bit of my time as a dragon boat paddler. I became a member of Clarence Valley Dragons Abreast.
Over the years I have sat in every seat in the boat and for a lot of years in the early days was one of the club strokes, even though on many occasions I thought I was going to die. I was lucky enough to be part of the Northern Region team, along with others who are still members of CCDBC today, to compete in the National Titles bringing home a bronze medal. An unbelievable experience! Then I had another chance to experience competition at its best in being part of a selected Northern region team competing at the Pan Pacific Masters Games. The “paddling tarts” we were, and our warm up theme song as we paddled to the start line was “who let the tarts out …WHO WHO” and with all that we managed to bring home silver.
I became a coach after a grueling two day course and some pretty tough mentors within the club. I love coaching and feel I can contribute to the club in encouraging and helping members become better paddlers. I enjoy being able to attend regattas as an official and that gives a whole different insight to a regatta, especially in the Officials’ tent.
In 2010 I was part of the steering committee to form Clarence Coast Dragon Boat Club. I took over as Secretary and then later, taking on the President’s position.
Dragon Boating has become part of my life, not so much these days in the sport itself but in the administration side of things. The lasting friendships I have formed within our club and throughout the dragon boat community are very special.
Our club is a great little club and is continuing to grow in numbers. Keep up the good work of promoting dragon boating throughout our local community, word of mouth has always worked for us.
A big congratulations must go to Irene – she is now an official trainee coach and on completion of her post course work, will add to our coaching team.