Looking back on the BC Summer Games

Erika, our Head Coach for the BC Summer Games reports on this successful event for the team and great experience for everyone involved.  Well done athletes, and thank you Erika and Patrick. We couldn’t have done it without you.sign By Ericka LaDouceur,
C Summer Games Head Coach for Zone 6 Sprint Canoe and Kayak Team

Zone 6 preparations for this year’s BC Summer Games started May 24th when we held trials to determine which athletes would represent Vancouver Island, Central Coast. The team trials were at Long Lake in Nanaimo and were a success. Following the trails, Patrick Dann, assistant coach for Zone 6, and I organized and ran three training camps with the help and support of Igor Nikitovich, head coach for Nanaimo Canoe and Kayak Club (NCKC). Two camps were held at NCKC, and an outrigger camp was run in Victoria, out of Fairway Gorge Paddling Club (FGPC). These camps were wonderful for team-building, both on and off the water. Above all, they provided excellent opportunities for athletes from Victoria and Nanaimo to practice together before race day and gave Patrick and I some time to get to know each athlete better.  This made the entire Games experience all the more fulfilling because we knew how best to support each athlete throughout the event, which, for many, was their first ever BC Summer Games.

BC Summer Games opening ceremonies.  Who knew there was championship skipping? Totally wow.

Championship skipping at BC Summer Games opening ceremonies.

Day 1, BC Summer Games: July 17, 2014

Bright and early on Thursday July 17th, Victoria athletes met at the bus pick-up, with all other athletes heading to Nanaimo. Nanaimo athletes met us at accreditation a few hours later with smiling faces and lots of energy. Parents helped make sure they had gone through accreditation, which was a huge relief for me as I knew “step 1” was done and we had our athletes ready to go. Five athletes from Ditidaht First Nations community joined us later that day, ready to compete in their first sprint canoe and kayak races and represent their community. Day one was a busy one. We paddled boats over from NCKC before the meeting and training session at the Inn on Long Lake. Once the training session was done, we headed to dinner and the opening ceremonies. That night, no one had any trouble sleeping as we were all exhausted after a long afternoon in the sun.

Day 2: July 18, 2014

Day two started out on the Nanaimo River (Cedar Bridge) for some Canoe and Kayak slalom, organized by Sean Plecas from NCKC. For Zone 6, slalom was brand new. A few eager athletes were looking forward to the event as it was a new opportunity; a new challenge. We had played around in some boats for a bit during our first training camp, and had some of us standing in the water as “poles”, however that was the extent of everyone’s “slalom” experience prior to the Games. Zone 6 athletes and coaches truly enjoyed learning more about canoe/kayak slalom and loved the demonstrations as they had made it look so easy! Watching the demos gave me the desire to try out slalom some day! Once the slalom was over and our buses had arrived, we headed to “home base”, the Inn on Long Lake, for some sprint racing. Once the day was done, it was off to the buses and the evening routine of showers, dinner and a dance.

Ianna and Clare in their Gold Medal Race at the BC Summer Games

Ianna and Clare (leading) in their Gold Medal Race at the BC Summer Games. Photo: Michael Folkes.

Day 3: July 19, 2014

Races on day three and four at Long Lake went great. Zone 6 athletes looked out for each other and helped ensure athletes all made their races. If an athlete was not racing for some time, they were off helping others get ready for their races and helping them with their equipment, bibs and deck numbers. It was truly great to see. If we had several athletes racing within a short period of time, and both Patrick and I were busy, I knew that the other athletes would be on the water for their races. Older athletes helped the younger and the newer athletes get ready. It almost felt like a family with big brothers and sisters. I feel extremely fortunate to have been the head coach for Zone 6. Coaches and athletes all communicated well, supported each other and ensured that everyone was looked after. Someone always had your back, whether you were a coach or an athlete. Parents were also ready to lend a helping hand whenever it was needed which was fantastic. There was so much team spirit; cheering on their teammates from the dock, the beach and even from the water! We were there as a team.

Zone six team at the closing ceremonies

Zone six team at the closing ceremonies. Photo: Michael Folkes.

Day 4: July 20, 2014

Once races were done and medals awarded on the fourth and final day, we headed to the school to collect belongings before making our way to the closing ceremonies. Parents from Nanaimo, Victoria and Ditidaht all worked together to ensure all our Zone 6 athletes would be picked up together, had release forms signed and the luggage had all been picked up. It was team-work at its finest! The drive back to Victoria was a relaxing one for me. I had a wonderful time but at the end of the day, I was exhausted. I looked forward to my comfy bed. I must say though, that this was an experience to remember. There are two main things that made my first experience as head coach at BC Summer Games so rewarding. The first, was working with athletes who really put their best foot forward each day, even when they hadn’t slept well or had a bad race. They were there because they were passionate about canoe/kayak and wanted to be there. Secondly, the support and camaraderie from all coaches and staff made even the most difficult situations manageable because I knew they were always there to help. I have competed and coached in various sports and the canoe/kayak community is the one I feel the most supported in. It may be a small community in BC, at least for now, however it is one I will continue to be a part of for years to come.

Read More:

BC Summer Games Big Success for Zone 6 Team

Nanaimo River Slalom at the BC Summer Games

Photos from the Games:

July 18 Canoe Kayak Events at Long Lake Photos by Michael Folkes

July 19 Canoe Kayak Events at Long Lake Photos by Michael Folkes

BC Summer Games Closing Ceremonies Photos by Michael Folkes