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Feb 8, 2010

The 2010 "Meanies" (Your Loving Coaching Staff)!

New blood, a new stroke, a new season. As we usher in a new '10 season full of competitive paddling and fun, checking in with "the new" is as standard as Pearl wearing her funky ninja toe shoes or Kmak carrying his infamous bucket to practice. Along with "the new" are the new expectations we as paddlers have for the season, each other, and ourselves. Coaches are no exception when it comes to having 'em too!

Here are a few thoughts and responses that the coaching staff have when it comes to such things:

Q1: Let's start easy, where are you from? What's your experience with paddling and how long have you been out with Space?
Pearl:  I am the only original/charter team member still paddling regularly (others are Joe, who may or may not be back this year, and Paul Len, whose love of the snow means he doesn't paddle in the winter). So this is my 9th season (although only 8th as Space Dragons since we were the Water Dragons our 1st year) and my first year paddling was the first time I've done dragonboat paddling.
Rod:  SoCal, only paddled a Surfboard prior to joining SD, 5th season
Ceez:  Hometown: Waialua, Hawaii I had no prior paddling experience prior to the Space Dragons. This will be my sixth season with the Space Dragons.
Jackie:  Grew up in Irvine, CA, where life is easy and the trees and cops are plentiful. I started paddling with Space Dragons! Forget the year now... maybe summer 2007? Em roped me in, but it just so happened that Robert (who was already on the team) and I were coworkers at the time! Small world! =)
Devant:  Bounced between Irvine and the LBC and coming into my 3rd consecutive season with Space--first season as a coach!
Em:  I grew up in Westwood, and I've been paddling since 2003, first in Seattle, then with Space in 2004.

Q2: What do you think will be the greatest challenge in ushering in this new season as a coach for those rowdy but amazing Space Dragons?

Pearl:  Making the practices challenging for those ultra-competitive paddlers while fun for those just wanna have a good time. It's hard to find that balance and we do want all paddlers on the team to be at the same level -- wouldn't it be cool to have Red, Blue and White in the final heat together?! 
Rod:  Getting more involved in the land workouts 
Ceez:  In my opinion, the greatest challenge this year is to have the team embrace and master the new stroke. We as coaches must make the team believe that the new stroke will take the Space Dragons to the promise land. We must believe!! 
Jackie:  It's gonna be hard to beat the sheer energy and excitement of last year. But we can do it. We've got an awesome crop of newbies, and we've started off with a sweeet Mammoth trip! And I'm really going to miss Joe and Wade. =(
Devant:  Definitely gonna be finding my "voice" as a newbie coach  and stepping it up as a leader for the '10 season.
Em:  I think the greatest challenge for 2010 will be adjusting to the new stroke.  We've been using the old stroke for the last several years, and it's helped us get where we are today.  This new stroke is a big change, and it may take us a few tournaments to perfect it, but I believe it'll get us to that next level by the end of the season (no more saying "next year").         
Q3: What do you look forward to most this year?

Pearl:  Boston! Our first tournament back East.
Rod:  Seeing how we do with the new stroke during a race.
Ceez:  To see how well we do in tournaments with the new stroke.
Jackie:  Really kicking some butt with our new stroke. I love the new stroke. It just feels right.

Devant:  I left my heart in San Francisco. Bring on TI!
Em:  Space Dragons in BOSTON!!!  I <3 Boston!            

Q4: What should the newbies of the team expect from their experience with the Space Dragons and this sport in general as they make their way through the 2010 paddling season?

Pearl:  Dragon boat paddling is the ultimate team sport and we are one team, no single paddler is better than the rest.  So paddle in a way that you've got everyone's back and they'll do the same for you.
Rod:  Hard work  and team work will be the key to success.
Ceez:  Newbies will wonder how can this bunch of raging lunatics be winners.  They will soon discover that fun, hard work and winning can co-exist.  That is the Space Dragon's prime directive (Well, for me at least...)  : )
Jackie:  We're going to make you hurt and cry and you're going to love it. =) 

Devant:  Don't be too hard on yourself--we've all been there; keep an open mind and listen to the coaches and what they have to offer; train hard; have fun; and take care of each other--the rest will itself work itself out!
Em:  It's painful at first (both the paddling part and the waking up part), but by the end of it you'll be a healthier person with a great new group of friends!
Q5: What expectations do you have most of for the team this season?

Pearl:  To show the world that we've stepped it up again. Beat that 0.4 sec and more with our smooth, sexy new stroke.
Rod:  Everybody gives their 100%
Ceez:  My expectations are for SD paddlers to commit themselves to continue the dream.... the Space Dragon's rapid ascent to the top.
Jackie:  I want our ladies to really rip it up out there at all of our tourneys. Let's go, ladies!!! 

Devant:  The team is really only as great as the effort that you put into it. I expect everyone to take equal stakes in ownership of the team by developing as a paddler, a teammate, and as a person. Because when it comes down to it, your attitude, your fitness, and your intentions create the picture part of this team. Draw it well. 
Em:  We're one team, one family, so I expect everyone to be there for each other, both on and off the water.  Cheer each other on from shore, bring water for each other and share sunscreen, and most of all, don't lose faith in a race!!  Don't let your benchmate/caller/rest of your crew down by not pulling your hardest, no matter how tired you are.  Every stroke counts! 

Q6: Any words of wisdom you'd like to bestow onto our loyal readers and paddlers?

Pearl:  Envision yourself as a winner and determine from there what you need to do to be a winner. We provide the tools but it is up to you to utilize them. Never give up, whether you're so tired during a race or you see a boat passing you, keep on pushing, it's a race against yourself as well.
Rod:  “Train Hard…Win Easy”
Ceez:  We MAY (or may not) take our lumps early in the tournament season with the new stroke. Do not get discouraged. We will overcome and improve. We have before.
Jackie:  Have fun, talk to people, ask questions, help each other out. We're one big family.  
Devant:  However you define your specific long/short-term goals, remember that they are achieved from within and practiced at home. You are your own obstacle, own it!           
Em:  "Pain is temporary.  Quitting lasts forever."  - Lance Armstrong.
Q7: What makes a champion?

Pearl:  One who gives it all not only during races but everyday; one who respects others and commands the respect from others; one who shows great sportsmanship.
Rod:  A positive attitude.
Ceez:  To be a champion, you need your S.P.A.C.E. S-Strive P-Preparation A-Attitude C-Commitment and E- Experience
Jackie:  Winning on the water and off the water. Put your whole heart into everything that you do. 
Devant:  Envision yourself as one because you already have to tools to be as amazing as you already are.
Em:  Leaving a race and knowing you did the best you could.