The following submission was made as an entry to win a OC1 from an amazingly generous donor, who wanted to see the canoe truly enjoyed, rather than turn a profit. Entrants were asked to submit an essay answering the following:
- Part 1: “Describe how paddling has changed your life.”
- Part 2: “How do you plan to use this canoe, and perhaps someday pass it along?”
Abe Feldman, California
I have always struggled with finding a community. Mainly because I have never really felt the need or the inclusivity from other groups I have tried to be a part of. This experience pushed me further to try to find a community as well as a family. [Explain WHY here]. . but when I tried paddling I instantly fell in love with the sport and I was welcomed with open arms on my schools team. When I joined the team I was one of the only fat people on the boat and that worried me. but that didn’t stop any of the coaches or other paddlers from thinking any different of me. That was something that I had never seen or been a part of before. I am never made fun of or teased about my weight when I am on the boat or at land training. Paddling has changed my life by giving me a chance to make new friends and become a part of a community that is always working on bettering themselves and those around them as well as being a welcoming community to anyone who wanted to try paddling.
Paddling has boosted my self confidence in ways that I haven’t expected and in ways that will better me for the future and in ways that I can better people around me. I am always happy when I see my teammates around school and at practice because I think that they are focused on the same things I am like bettering themselves, being nicer to the community, being role models to those around them, and exemplifying what it means to be a paddler as well as a student athlete. As I continue to paddle I hope to pass on what paddling means to me to newer paddlers.
I am always trying to make myself and my team better whenever we meet. Be it from getting stronger on and off the boat, working on technique, or helping other on what they need help with or if they need a friend to talk to I want to be the person that they can turn to. I want to show them that paddling has been a very good thing for me.
Thinking back to before I started paddling I never really found a group to hang out with and be a part of either at lunch or after school and that made me feel like I wasn’t good enough to be a part of anything. But, when my friend asked me to try paddling I was wary because I thought “Why would they want a fat person that would weigh down the boat on their team or I don’t think I should because I would tip the boat.” When I went to my first practice and looked around I did not see anyone stare at me or say anything mean to me. They just saw a potential new paddler with room to grow which surprised me because when I started I could barely do a good push up and now I can do many good ones. I would not be where I am today without paddling. Paddling has made me a better person.
I would use this canoe by furthering my personal growth. I would use the OC to work further on my own technique so when I get to practice I can help others with their technique and show them how to work even better as a team. I would also use the OC to work out in ways that I can not do on a dragon-boat. I can also use it to help out my team by paddling alongside them and giving them pointers on what they are doing well and what they can work on so they can be even better.
I can pass it along someday to someone who reminds myself of a person struggling to find their community the way I was when I joined dragon-boat. I want to show them that this sport is one of family by showing that the OC is a way that people can work hard for something that their hard work will pay off in ways they would help people just as I helped them. I am always looking for ways to better myself and those around me because that is what this sport has done for me and that is how I want to pass on the tradition of paddling and of finding your family.
My name is Abe Feldman. I am a rising senior at Mission High School in San Francisco CA. I began paddling for my High School’s Dragon-boat team in August of 2017 and have raced with them for almost two years. Additionally, I joined an adult team called Ripple Effect in the summer of 2018 with my coach and friend Kyra Bajeera and have been racing with them for the past year.