Eight years ago, my dad told me about the Keiki program with Oceanside Outrigger. Little did I know this conversation would eventually influence the hobby I have developed today. The first time I sat in a canoe, I thought to myself, "This is the worst thing of my life!" I was with people who were way older than me, doing a sport I had never tried, and in an environment I was not familiar with. In that moment, as a nine-year- old girl, I never would have believed I would still be doing something I am so passionate about today.
Eight years later, and counting, this sport has brought so much to me. It has taught me self-discipline and taught me that I need to work hard to accomplish something that is worth telling people. And of course, all of the memories paddling has created are invigorating. The most vivid experience that ever occurred in my current paddling career was passing the finish line in Avalon, Catalina. I had trained for months with 8 other teammates for this moment, and every second was worth it. I doubted myself so many times and told myself I was crazy for wanting to paddle 30 miles across the Pacific Ocean to a tiny island off the coast of my home state. There was so much to know in order to accomplish this race.
But racing to Catalina helped me understand so much about myself. I learned that 30 miles of a paddle is very physically straining, but mentally so rewarding. I am truly blessed for my coaches and teammates encouraging me to do something that an average 16-year old girl would be doing one weekend. However, my dad is the reason I went through with my decision to do the Catalina race. He taught me that once you start something you must finish it. The last thing I wanted to do was disappoint my dad. I woke up on race morning at 4 AM and drove to Newport Beach, where little did I know, I would be soon be having the experience of a lifetime.
Around 3 hours later, I was in the canoe and on my way to the finish line. I was hoping for the best conditions out there, wind going in our direction and no swell. Obviously, nothing is perfect and that was not the case, the wind was in every direction and the swell was bumping from all over. I thought to myself "Everything was going to be okay... I am so happy!" I told myself this because six hours later we crossed that line and everything I had worked for and all the practicing I have done since I was nine years old had paid off. The first thing I did when I jumped out of the canoe was hug all my teammates because I would not be the paddler I am today if it was not for them. The most important thing I did was called my dad and told him I finished the race and I explained to him how hard I have worked and how in shock I was for actually having accomplished this. I am very fortunate to have my dad always encouraging me through my life especially with the thing I enjoy the most.