Blazing Paddles is accepting new members. So what does Broward County’s only dragon boat racing team look for when it seeks new members? Looking at the team’s competitive successes (a world record, two-time defending champion in the dragonboat division of the MR340, an IDBF Community Division World Championship, and multiple championships in festivals, etc.) you might assume that we are mostly looking for extremely fit, experienced paddlers. If so, the reality will surprise you.
Our number one priority in considering any potential recruit is attitude. The ideal candidate is team-oriented, someone who wants to see the TEAM do well, and is willing to help make that happen. We rely on team members to not only train so that their skills and fitness will improve, but to contribute to all of the things that make the team successful in the long term: recruiting and retention of other members, maintenance of our boat and other equipment, planning travel for races, arranging social outings for the team, getting pictures and video that we can use for training and promotion, and all of the myriad other tasks that let the team grow and prosper. We don’t need prima donnas, we need teammates who will pitch in and “get ‘er done.”
We want teammates who are motivated to do their best. People who want to get into great shape. People who enjoy working on their technique so that they can become more efficient, better paddlers. Folks who are excited about the support the team offers when it comes to fitness and working out and learning to paddle well. And who are willing to push themselves to get into better shape. And then go celebrate with their teammates by going bowling, or to dinner and a movie, or paintball, or on a camping trip and one of Florida’s beautiful springs.
Our team is very diverse. At the moment, the youngest person on the team is 19 years old, and the oldest is 76. We have students, retirees, acupuncturists, lawyers, business executives, entrpreneurs, artists, accountants, scientists, skilled craftsmen, court reporters – people from all walks of life. We have teammates of many different ethnicities, and varied religious traditions. So we want people who embrace that diversity, and who know how to get along with others.
What about paddling experience? We have been fortunate to occasionally have someone come to the team having already paddled competitively. However, the vast majority of our members came to us with no such experience, and many without any significant athletic experience. We can teach you all you need to know. Because we all had to learn and can remember that others were patient with us as we were learning, and because we are accustomed to teaching beginners, we are patient with those who are new to the sport, and doing their best to get up to speed. Newcomers frequently comment on how welcoming our veteran paddlers are, and how well the team supports people just getting started.
What about fitness? Occasionally someone will come to the team already quite fit. But that is the exception. Sometimes a potential paddler will tell me that they will come out to try to join the team after they get in shape. That is putting the cart before the horse. If you would like to build a strong core, and good base of cardio fitness, join now. Come to practice. Workout with your teammates. Before you know it, you will see gains in fitness. And at the same time you will be developing your skills as a paddler and getting ready to race.
In sum, we are not looking primarily for the fittest, most skilled paddlers. We are looking for potential teammates who will be loyal, dedicated and supportive, and who will be a part of keeping Blazing Paddles the most fun team on the water or off. If you have those qualities, we can help you build the fitness and skills to be an excellent paddler.
Captain “Iron” Will Murphy