Being here in Florida with my second family has proven to be the most rewarding experience ever. Though I have done this before this camp is different; my interaction with other clubs is limited and therefore I get to learn a lot about my own team mates (family members). I thought I knew much about them, their flaws and how they they could make my life much more difficult. But the more I think about it, the more I come to appreciate the life my parents have built for me and the team that I call my family.
My team mates; my second family.They are this small group of people that have the ability to drive you absolutely crazy but make you incredibly happy that you are alive all at the same time. They are not like other athletes. Other athletes from other clubs always have the option to leave their club and go somewhere else but here it was instilled in us from the first day that loyalty to the team is far more important than any medal that could be won. And while some people crumbled under this pressure the one’s that I am fortunate to be staying with at this very moment truly embody the very make-up that makes our club run with such vigor and team spirit.
When I joined flat-water sprint kayaking I was a very shy, and a somewhat anti-social being. Like my best friend from this club, I spent the early days of my athleticism huddled outside the weight room while everyone was in it. Many people talked to me in full length conversations while I simply replied with short, as little information as possible responses. I had always been like this, but it was this sport that changed the course of my behavior and attitude forever. Junior High was a very difficult time for me, full of emotional highs and lows (like a typical pre-teen) but a lot of unanswered questions and anger that I kept to myself. There were a lot of hard feelings that no other person could help me with, that no inspirational quote could convince me to get out of.How many inspirational quotes are about being adopted? When I joined this team I can remember it being a scary experience. Not at all because the people on the team were scary or mean, but because for the very first time I was stretching beyond my social experiences and skills. And after a few years I ended up OK. I actually stayed with this sport and it would become a major part of my life! I’ll admit, I’m not an all-star athlete in this sport, to get anywhere means that I must really, really want it, but what I take out of this sport more than the tans or the awesome muscles is a sense of belonging. A sense of belonging which I had craved for a very, very, long time and that this paddling community was able to provide me with.
I was 11 years old and struggling to find a purpose, my paddling family pulled me out of my slump and unbeknownst to them, changed my outlook on life forever. My paddling family is not without issues and when I joined I certainly did not think I would stay in it and dedicate my life to it. But it goes to show that you should take your chances because you never know how perfect something might turn out to be. And my paddling family is perfect, flaws and all.