Dragon Boat Practice: Challenge Accepted
The team spirit was in the air as the Dragon Boat team commenced another practice Friday, February 28th at Bailing Riverside Park along the Keelung River. The practice was the first time the new team set sail on a dragon boat to get some real live action. It was the perfect afternoon to be out on the water and the organized gathering got off to a good start with lunch at Maji square. Sponsors Let’s Do Eat (小農飯盒) provided the meals and 蠻牛Ex (Energy Drink) brought the energy.
Team members show off their Let’s Do Eat lunch boxes full of hearty food to fuel their bodies for practice. The weather was great and Maji square was alive with the weekend spirit.
There was plenty of 蠻牛Ex (Energy Drink) to go around. It gave team members that spark of energy and excitement for the practice ahead.
Once the team moved to the riverside it was time to go. Several had gone through the stationary training before and were eager to showcase their skills. Coach Serena gave a stretch session and refresher lesson before leading the team on to the river. The water was calm, the breeze was light, and even the fish were hopping. The start of practice was a bit rough as the techniques had to be adjusted in the cramped boat. Serena looked comfortable and helped everyone get acclimated to a real-life dragon boat scenario. She led the first few trials and everyone followed her lead. “One, two, three! One, two, three!” she shouted as the paddlers splashed through their paddling motions.
Still, ultimately it was up to the team to find its’ rhythm and technique. Issues like losing count, losing paddles, how to turn and slow the boat, how the race will be with other teams on the water all came up. Serena challenged the team members to work together amongst themselves and use their communication to find their pace. In the real competition, Serena won’t be there and the team collectively came to this realization. Challenge accepted. The team was able to get on the same page and paddle the boat back to the dock almost on their own.
The team paired off, threw on their life jackets, grabbed their paddles, and were eager to get in the boats. Safety is key, and our fearless warriors watched on as the boat was readied for the water.
The paddlers honed their technique on the river to get the team moving. Coach Serena led the charge and trusted the team to find their rhythm and work together.
Here is some of the feedback from those who participated:
Isaac Chua – IMBA First Year – Malaysia
“In order to move the 600-pound dragon boat to our destination, not only was strength required but also skills and coordination. Everyone tried to do their strokes perfectly but eventually, the perfect strokes have to coordinate with teammates not based on our own pace. I wish my teammates and I could gain more confidence by practicing the next few months. An arrogant team measures success by how they compare to the others but a confident team measures success by how they compare to themselves and how to improve. I believe we can be a confident and successful team because I have a bunch of good teammates.
Aileen Calix – IMBA First Year – Guatemala
“I enjoyed the first dragon boat practice because not only was it my first time trying out that sport, but I was also able to quickly learn the basics and understand the importance of teamwork. It was great to be able to practice directly on the boat and work on communication among the team members to reach the same goal. The teacher was also really good! She made sure to explain the basics in the most fun way while getting hands-on experience in the water.”
Bryon Clarke – IMBA First Year – Canada
“I thought it was nice to be out on the water even in the city. I also thought it raised the excitement for the Dragon Boat holiday. I didn't really know what it was when I first came [to Taiwan] so I think it was a good opportunity for people to ask questions about it. Finally, there are some well-established groups within the student group so it was nice to mix it up a bit. Not only in terms of friend groups but also so many people with different skill sets. The new challenge of figuring out the paddling and working together was a good way for everyone to let their guards down a bit and enjoy the day.”
Vicky Herrera – IMBA Second Year – Colombia
"Training for the dragon boat competition is a great way to boost teamwork and leadership. In the beginning, it was hard to coordinate as a team, most of us were new to that sport, but once we went in the boat and start rowing at the same pace, the training became much easier thanks to team spirit and commitment and our Captain's leadership. I am confident that we will do an outstanding job at the event and build a strong relationship among us"
Marcin Kazmierczak – IMBA Exchange – Poland
“The very first training of the dragon boat IMBA was the opening chapter of creating a cooperative, extremely diverse, and cheerful team. All of those involved shared a positive vibe and an urge to perform the best as a paddling boat crew. We have some strong basics about how to achieve the best possible results during Dragon Boat competition – by behaving as highly supportive team members. After the practice finished, we had vivid conversations about how it was and one could tell that all of us couldn’t wait for the next training! Overall, it was a successful practice.”
Overall, it was a successful practice indeed. The interaction amongst team members was key throughout the day. Whether it’s the ‘competition’ team or the ‘fun’ team, all share a similar sentiment of teamwork, bonding, competition, new experiences, and taking on the challenges it brings. It’s not just the holiday and race in June that the Dragon Boat team looks forward to. They are in it to enjoy the process – from practices, training, fundraising, and overall experiences. No doubt the Dragon Boat club is in for a memorable year.
The Dragon Boat team is more than a race. The collective excitement and energy flows through all of the practices, communications, sponsorships, fundraising, and individual trainings. It’s a challenge worth taking, and an accomplishment of competition plus relationship building that will last a lifetime.