Paddling helped me become who I am today. It gave me the confidence that I could do something on my own and that I could succeed at it too. Paddling was just mine. Not my brother’s, my parent’s or anyone else in my family, it was all mine. I got to learn on my own. I got to teach my family about it. Paddling has opened many doors for me and has taken me all over the world. If it wasn’t for the cute guy in grade 11 Chemistry that asked me if I wanted to come try this canoeing thing, who knows what I’d be today.
I started out in a marathon canoe in 1998 and since then have competed at the Provincial, Canadian National and U.S. National levels. Though I don’t race in marathon much anymore, I still try to get out at least a couple times a year.
While at the 2003 U.S. Nationals for marathon, I had the opportunity to get in an OC6 (6 person outrigger canoe) for the first time. In 2005 when on a teaching placement in Toronto, I joined an outrigger club and fell in love with this kind of paddling as well. Three years later I tried out for Team Canada and got to compete at my first of many World Championships.
I was introduced to dragon boating in university. I figured it was an easy way to get on the water. From then on I helped get the festival going in Parry Sound, was recruited for the Premiere Women’s National team and have gone on to compete in China, Czech Republic and the United States for Team Canada.
More recently I have taken up the challenge to try the fastest growing sport in the world, SUP. I started racing in 2013 and have enjoyed meeting new people and learning as much as I can from them. I’ve been lucky to have had some early success in this sport and look forward to many more years of racing, surfing and learning.
And just for fun I’ve started to dabble in my surfski. I started paddling surfski in 2014 for fun and to help me learn how to better use my legs and improve my rotation but it has quickly grown on me and is now part of my regular paddling schedule.
Coaching has always been in my blood. I’ve always taken great pride in helping people improve at whatever their chosen endeavour.
My first coaching experiences came in figure skating. Then Track and Field in high school and university along with paddling. When I started teaching I stumbled into coaching Soccer, Badminton and Volleyball, along with track and paddling of course.
There are a few coaching experiences that stand out for me so far in my career. The first was while I was teaching in Toronto. I had the privilege of coaching a Senior Boys Soccer team. We worked our way up from the bottom of the league to four years later winning the City Outdoor Championships, the North Region Indoor Championships and took qualified for the Provincial Tournament for first time in school history.
The second experience was working with a group of women from Kelowna while I was training for the 2012 World Outirgger Sprint Championships. I decided to sign them up for the National Team Trials and told them afterwards. They qualified for the Worlds and worked their butts off to prepare. The raced not only their age category but also the one below them and showed that they can compete with the best of the best.
The third was Spring 2015, I applied for and was given the position of Va’a Specialist with CanoeKayak Canada’s ParaCanoe program. I got to coach an amazing group of Canadian and American para-athletes. Working with each athletes abilities, it forced me to break down the mechanics of the paddle stroke into each tiny detail in an attempt to get everything possible from each athlete.
Helping to grow Kelowna Paddle Centre into a hub of paddling excellence over the past few years has been a privilege. With KPC crews sweeping the Men’s, Women’s and Mixed categories at the 2017 Nationals, it’s a testament that out of hard work and dedication comes success.
I have coached clinics in Gibsons, Hood River, Kelowna, Calgary, Fort Langley, Toronto, Harrison and many points in between. I create training programs and practice plans for clubs and individuals. Most of my clinics are arranged by individuals that want a new perspective or a fresh set of eyes. If you are a member of CORA then there are grants available to help you host a clinic. I am available to fly/drive to you or you are welcome to come to Kelowna and fit in a wine tour or hike between sessions.
Along with outrigger, I am available for clinics, one-on-one, small group and team instruction for dragonboat, surfski and stand-up paddleboarding.
Teaching, like coaching, has always been in my blood. I knew since high school that I would end up a teacher. Even though I explored some other professions, I always came back to teaching.
I started out teaching full time in Toronto then did some supply teaching (TOC) in Parry Sound while training for the 2010 World Championships and then started with an amazing company working with at-risk teenagers. It’s hard to believe that I have been teaching for over a decade already. From Classroom Teacher, to Department Head, to Student Success Teacher, to Academic Coordinator, to Principal to Education Director, to Executive Director, it’s been quite a ride!
For a long time I didn’t think I’d trade in teaching for anything. But since I’ve been exposed to the the world of Inspirational Speaking and Professional Coaching … I’m starting to see that my teaching experience and skills can make me successful in other avenues of life.