By: Ruthie Reyes
Having the honor to be on a Northern California paddling team was an experience I
would have not believed myself doing in a million years. I've been paddling since I was
seven years old, not knowing how much this sport would make me crave for it more and more.
Growing up I fell in love with outrigger canoeing every time, every minute I was out on
the water. Since then I had this determination, this dream to race in both Southern
California and Hawai'i. So being asked to be on the first junior Norcal team was
unbelievable. Knowing that outrigger paddling is growing and the next generation of keiki,
are the next ones up for an exciting future,in long distance outrigger paddling
While training for the 2015 Catalina Crossing, which is a two day event; consisting of
women, men, coed,and youth crews racing 27 miles starting from Newport Harbor and
finishing at Catalina Island. Throughout trainings, it challenged me in ways that I did
not know were inside of me. It not only pushed my limits but also my teammates, every time we were all out on the water.
Going into this journey with the Norcal team, we became more than just a team. We are more like a family to each other. At our first practice we were all a pretty quiet group of girls, ages 1618.
But time passed along and by the time we knew it we all grew this one big friendship, and
nothing will break us apart. Knowing we all had each others backs, we knew we could face
all the challenges we had coming towards us and we would face it all together as a team,
Going through the months, leading up to the big race it really changes you as a person
and also teaches you so much more about how to read the waters, team work, and knowing
your capability in a canoe. As a steers person I really had to get out of my comfort zone
and be confident in myself. Being the loud and encouraging steers person, you really want
your team to know that you are right there, right behind them the whole way. Also as a
paddler, you really gain a lot of trust in each other. We told each other that we were
going to work hard every minute in that canoe but to still have fun.
By crossing that finish line at the end of the Catalina Crossing, we were one of three
keiki crews with a total of 68 crews overall. This experience allowed me to successfully
see one of my two dreams I have for myself come true. As we approach a new season, I have
been training on the oc1 for our time trials with aspirations to make the Nor Cal 2016
team in hopes of achieving other big races.
My words of encouragement is, no matter how young you are or if you are a group of
girls, you can do it. It may be a lot of work but the pain doesn't last forever and in the end it's all worth it.