June 10th 2016
SPOILER ALERT: We won the GOLD!!
It was a great day for racing dragon boats down the Schuylkill River and our group was ready.
We had practiced both on the Schuylkill River and the Cooper River. Our team was made up of a wide range of paddlers. Some of us were just learning how to paddle and how to be comfortable in a boat (over water). Some of us were still getting used to the idea of being over the water in a boat that moves. At the start of each practice, we were paddling out of sync and wondering if we would be able to compete at all. But with great coaching, at the end of each practice, we were able to stroke together and get down the river with some real power. There was a hope building within us.
Have you ever won a gold medal? Most of us on our team had not. In fact, a lot of our team didn't believe we even could and wanted to aim for the seemingly attainable third place bronze. "It's still a medal!" some said. The leaders had to talk us up; they had to point us to first place. "Push", they said. "Push for two minutes, focus on giving it your all for those two minutes". Some never made it to believing, but they were willing to try. They thought they could do it for at least two minutes.
After two races that were good, we were in the final race, the race for a medal, the race for GOLD!! Getting a win could change a life (Maybe that's too dramatic. But maybe it's actually not?). To move from hoping or just kind of believing to celebrating a win and feeling the fulfillment of your hope as a reality is a huge leap. An experience like that gives you reason to hope a little more next time--after all, you weren't just hoping this time, it became a reality! Things that previously seemed hopeless, now glimmer with a little bit of hope--all because we did it, we won gold.
The team spirit could not have been higher. In fact, the students are planning on getting together enough students to have a youth team.