Duties of the Paddler

by Peter Apo & Bob Nagatani

Reprinted from No Ka Heihei Wa‘a

A paddler should understand the way in which the club is organized and should be able to function within its framework and abide by its rules and regulations. A paddler should take pride in being a club member and must realize that whenever he or she paddles with the club or is even identified as a club member by wearing a club shirt, he or she represents the whole club as well as the sport of canoe racing.

The paddler should respect the authority of the club’s officers and must understand that the efforts of all should be directed towards achieving the club’s goals.

Every paddler must acknowledge that the head coach and the assistant coaches are delegated by the club to lead and direct the activities of all its paddlers. The paddler should take the advice given by the coaches and strive to perform at the level the coaches expect.

The paddler must also dedicate him or herself to attain the level of physical fitness that the coaches require and participate wholeheartedly in any conditioning program that is recommended.

At practice, the paddler should be prepared to give his or her best, both mentally and physically, at all times. Each paddler should come to practice ready to train hard and should arrive at the site early enough to “settle down” and prepare for practice. There should be a willingness and desire to make an initial effort, a second effort, a third effort, and however many efforts it takes to become a member of a crew.

The paddler should be punctual and be able to take criticism and praise in a positive way. He or she should be sensitive to the needs of others and be willing to go more than half the distance to allow for the shortcomings of others.

Additionally, the paddler should not instigate or become party to informal second guessing (gossip) about coaching decisions or techniques that are being taught. There are appropriate times (at crew meetings, for example) when a give‐and‐take session may be held by the club’s coaches. Any influence that disrupts the development of unity or harmony is one that has no place in the attempt to build a successful crew.

When help is needed and asked for by the club’s leaders, there should be no hesitancy on the paddler’s part to offer his or her services. Giving of oneself above and beyond the call of duty has its own rewards. You’ll be asked to help again!

Completion of routine chores and attention to details before they become sources of annoyance to the club’s volunteer staff should be taken care of immediately. The prompt payment of club dues and race fees, the completion of club waivers, the presentation of documents such as birth certificates and transfers, eager participation in fundraising activities, helping with the maintenance of the canoes and the hauling of equipment are all part and parcel of being a good paddler and club member. A paddler must make it easy for the club to function. That is fair enough, for the club is giving the paddler the opportunity to compete in a great sport.

Every paddler must realize that a club’s participation in a regatta or long distance race is a highlight of a series of acts requiring a good deal of work from many people who are not necessarily a visible part of a club’s day‐to‐day activities. From time to time, a paddler should acknowledge the contributions of non‐paddling members who are also a part of the club and who enjoy participating in the club’s activities as non‐paddlers and whose efforts are also needed to help the club run efficiently.

Above all, a paddler must remember that Hawaiian outrigger canoe racing is a team sport and that the success of a crew is not solely determined by the contributions of any one individual. There is no position in the crew (stroker, steersman, etc.) that is more important than any other.

A good case can be made that being an alternate on a crew is just as important as being a member of the starting six. An alternate, for example, ensures that the crew will race even if one of the starters becomes ill or cannot paddle for any other reason.

An experienced paddler knows and appreciates the fact that canoe racing is a great team sport. When a crew (alternates included) begins to realize that it wants to become a team and proceeds to dedicate its efforts toward that end, the most significant ingredient necessary to build a solid crew has surfaced. Any successful coach knows that helping a group of individual paddlers develop a team feeling is the greatest challenge and duty of both coach and paddlers. After that has been accomplished, assembling the remaining elements necessary to become a consistent winner is a relatively easy task. To become an effective member of a team is the greatest duty a paddler can perform for his or her crew and canoe club.

@ Peter Apo & Bob Nagatani

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