This season, the Kootenay Robusters decided to try a different strategy for their paddling season - one that should be especially helpful to new recruits, and enjoyable for experienced team members as well.
Two early season festivals were planned, the first in Lethbridge at the end of June and the second at the end of July in Harrison Hot Springs. Because there were so many new paddlers, it was decided to focus on the fun aspect of festival participation, since there wasn’t time to get everyone trained well enough to be truly competitive. This goal was well accomplished in Harrison as the team took over several units in a nearby condo and planned social activities that emphasized team-building and setting good paddling goals for the future.
Now that they no longer have to face the pressure of festival preparation, the Robusters are working on refining skills, improving technique and enjoying each others’ company. Working under the guidance of coach Trish Ostlund (a former member of the world champion False Creek Women’s Dragon Boat Team) Robusters have various paddling options for the rest of the summer. When there are enough women available, the dragon boat will be used, but if fewer members sign up for a practice, the team is also able to use an outrigger canoe that seats six.
In previous years, new paddlers were discouraged from joining the team in August because festival preparation meant that they wouldn’t have time to get in shape and learn the complicated dragon boat stroke. This year, however, is the perfect time to join the team if you have always wanted to give dragon boating a try. If it turns out to be a sport you would like to delve into more deeply, you would be well on your way by the time the boat is launched for the 2016 season.
Our steersperson, Trudi Toews, was recently asked what it takes to be a Robuster and summed the requirements up with the comment, “Fifty bucks.” What she meant was that the team values inclusiveness so much that anyone who is interested is welcome to join. The cost is kept low, and all the equipment provided. We carpool to practices and often find that provides as much fun as the paddling. While some team members have physical problems and many of us are in our senior years we would like everyone to know that the benefits of becoming a Robuster easily outweigh the challenges.
For more information on becoming a Robuster, call 250-364-0993 (Rossland/Trail), 250-365-3794 (Castlegar area), 250-442-3333 (Grand Forks, Christina Lake) or visit our website www.kootenayrobusters.com