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Holly Rhodes

Holly Rhodes

Sports: Dragonboat, pickleball

Years of Paddling: Since 1990s

“(Paddlers) become your family and the time spent together, whether it’s enduring difficult practices, participating in festivals, having pub nights or doing fundraisers, it all lends to a sense of belonging.”

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Q: What inspires you most about paddling?

My teammates inspire me.

But It isn’t just one thing I enjoy. It’s the hard work we put into our practices, all for a common goal of performing to the best of our abilities. It’s also the comradery and pride we feel at achieving goals.

Q: How has the paddling community has affected your life?

A: It’s given me a sense of belonging and a sense of pride. I have been part of the paddling community since the mid 1990s . I’ve paddled with other teams and actually coached a team called SssTeam Heat for several years. However I’ve, spent most of my paddling years with Momentum (which used to be called the Amazing Grays)

The team members come and go but there is a core group of us who have paddled together for many years. They become your family and the time spent together, whether it’s enduring difficult practices, participating in festivals, having pub nights or doing fundraisers, it all lends to a sense of belonging. I think as we age, it’s important to have those connections. It’s a feeling that I think we all feel.

Q: How active were you before COVID-19 hit?

A: I was very active. We had dragonboat practices twice a week, sometimes three. We were preparing for the Seniors Games. I was working out, playing pickleball approximately eight to 10 times a week, as well as taking tennis and ukulele lessons. I was also working. So I was always on the go.

Q: How did you initially cope with the crisis and what are you doing now?

A: Actually, I have to say it was tolerable. The most difficult part was not being able to spend time with my family. My children and grandchildren are all close by, so having to keep our distance was very difficult.

I kept myself busy getting back to writing children’s poems and stories. I Practiced ukulele a lot and took care of many jobs I had been neglecting around the house..

Now I am back to playing pickleball with a small pod of friends. We also got a puppy so I’m spending all my spare time taking care of his needs, which includes obedience classes, lots of walks and an awful lot of cleaning.  

Q: Have you learned anything positive about yourself or your community as a result of the crisis?

A: I can cope, if I dont dwell. The best way is to do something for others as well as yourself. People come together when they need to. I witnessed so many acts of kindness in our own community and beyond..

Q: When it comes to paddling, is there a person, event or team that has a special memory for you?

A: Oh my gosh. I have so many memories, far too many to mention. But I would have to say, one of my favorite memories, though, was when we took part in the Greatest Steersman on Earth Challenge in Penticton three years ago. It was a competition where we had to paddle the length of the race course while dodging buoys, Miles Kracowec Tickner steered us to sweet victory with his incredible steering abilities and of course our awesome teamwork.

Q: Is there a coach or mentor you’d like to recognize, and why?

A: I’ve had a few great coaches and mentors over the years. Keith Wilson was a huge inspiration when he coached the Amazing Grays many years ago. Both he and his wife Karen, have done so much for the paddling community over the years. Their list of contributions is endless. 

Then there’s our Momentum coach, Erik Ages, who has done wonders for our team. He took us from being a team of non-performing elders, to being a very competitive senior team in a very short period of time. We are now one of the top senior teams on the Island, thanks to him. The 2019 season was the absolute best and we were getting geared up to have an even better 2020 season. Erik has invested himself in us because he knows we have the desire and determination to perform well. He works us very hard and the more we respond, the harder he works us. We all appreciate him for it, more than he knows.

Q: In terms of paddling, what are you looking forward to the most when normalcy returns?

A: Getting to be with my friends, my teammates and competing again. Having all those warm fuzzy feelings back. They’ve been gone too long.

All proceeds from the 2021 calendar project will support FGPC’s race restart programs.

Holly Rhodes