Throughout high school, I never really did much except for go to school, work, or hangout friends. I had a ton of freetime and no idea what to do with it, that was until I was recruited by a CYC paddler in the first week of my junior year, and that’s when my life changed forever.
I had no idea what dragonboat was, so I went in completely blind into the first practice. I expected it to be relatively easy, seeing people paddle from shore on the occasional trip by Lake Merced. This, however, would be the last time I uttered those words. From the minute practice started it was all business. We ran, did a multitude of lower and upper body workouts, and closed off the hour and a half land session with ab exercises. Right after, the team quickly changed and I was placed on a boat and tried to paddle with them best I could, which was extremely difficult when taking into account cadence and power. After finishing my first practice, I was sore for the next 3 days, leaving a memorable impression on me.
Since it was so hard, I kept debating if I should continue with this unusual sport or quit. I chose to keep going and give it another chance. Every practice that went by made me fall in love with the sport and the team even more. The veterans taking me under their wing and teaching me the ins and outs of paddling really made me feel important to the team. Pretty soon, I had met many new people and most importantly, was practicing for the upcoming races.
The aspect I enjoy about dragonboat is the competitive nature of the sport, as well as how mentally and physically challenging it is. On top of this, racing against a lot of the best teams in the nation and the world is an unforgettable experience.
Devoting 8+ hours to a sport per week for a majority of the year is a huge commitment, but it definitely taught me the importance of perseverance. Looking back on these past two years, it is truly a bittersweet moment thinking how far I have come. Now as a veteran on the team and as part of A boat, a lot of responsibility lies on me and other veterans to help shape the new members of the team just as I had been not too long ago. Through these experiences, I have learned many valuable lessons and friendships that I will carry with my forever.