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Katy Milne

Katy Milne

Sports: Dragon Boat, Outrigger Canoe, Rowing, Running, Strength and Conditioning

Years of paddling: 19

Favourite or notable paddling teams: Paddlers of the Fifth Moon, Snappin’ Dragons, Lima Mahina

“If you’re easily able to come up with excuses as to why you didn’t or couldn’t do something, maybe that thing wasn’t really supposed to be your goal and there is something else out there for you.”

Q: What do you enjoy most about paddling?

A: I enjoy being out on the water trying to make the boat move as well as it can. As I coach I enjoy the problem solving that goes into making multiple people move as one fluid unit

Q: How would you describe how paddling and the paddling community has affected your life?

A: Most of my friends are paddlers, my teams have helped me move house several times over the years! It’s a built-in pool of people to go and try other activities with.

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

A: I was very active, not much has changed other than the paddling curtailment through the summer and the fact that I still can’t get in the pool. I added more strength and conditioning and got back into rowing to compensate. I am back in the OC6 and OC12 now but the rest of my activities continued all the way through the pandemic as they could be done safely.

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

A: In all honesty, I’m an introvert so I really don’t need much of an excuse to avoid crowds! I am a cancer researcher so I was fortunate to have a job that continued through the pandemic and as I was deemed essential to keep an eye on the lab, I was on site every day. So other than it being a lot quieter (which again as an introvert I really didn’t mind!) it was not too hard to treat it as business as usual. I did miss working with my dragon boat teams this summer, though, as it would have been Fifth Moon’s 20th season and Snappin’ Dragons’ 10th. My activities are pretty much the same now for this time of year.

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

A: I learned to knit and bought a sewing machine and learned how to make masks. Learned to cut my own hair and started brushing up on my French. I needle-felted a bunny! I also got back to rowing at the Whitehall Spirit Rowing Club along with four of my paddling teammates after about 18 years away from the sport as the water was calling. I came to the conclusion that growth in any area is always possible as long as you put in the effort and find ways to deal with frustration as you learn. There are always opportunities if you look for them and do the work to make them happen. Excuses get you nowhere, if you’re easily able to come up with excuses as to why you didn’t or couldn’t do something, maybe that thing wasn’t really supposed to be your goal and there is something else out there for you.

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

A: I used to assemble throw-together teams for various festivals when I had more time; it was always surprising how well those teams did despite often meeting just on race day. It was a great way to get to know many other paddlers you didn’t normally get a chance to paddle with and experience other festivals. We used to take a women’s team up to Port Alberni, put on clinics covering a variety of topics, then race on Sproat Lake for chocolate. That was always fun!

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

A: There are so many.

When I first got in the outrigger in 2001 it was Keith and Karen Wilson that took us out and taught me how to steer. I still have an email from Keith circa 2002 on how to do buoy turns!

Chuck Wood was really helpful when I first got into dragon boat coaching the following year, allowing me to hop in with the Gorging Dragons to see what sort of things he did in the boat. He also introduced me to higher-level competition by letting me paddle with the Gorgeous Dragons women’s team, a hybrid of mostly the Gorging Dragons and Dragonauts women, I still have two bronze medals from coming third overall at Alcan in 2003 and 2004.

Alan Carlsson and Jackie Webber were highly influential in my early days as a coach and paddler, I took many workshops with them and really started to develop the technical side of my brain as a coach.

In the last few years I have owed a huge development debt to Kamini Jain. I took many workshops from her over the years and in 2018 after taking my Competitive Level Coaching course she encouraged me to apply for the first ever Dragon Boat Canada National Team coaching mentorship program, I was accepted and was given the opportunity to work with Kamini and Andrea Dillon, another highly influential figure in dragon boat I was really excited to learn from, for the 2019 cycle of the Senior C National Team, culminating with the World championships in Pattaya, Thailand. The experience was amazing and led to the opportunity to work with Andrew Milner, the new Senior C National Team program director for the upcoming cycle as an assistant coach. I have been very fortunate to work with some of the leading figures in dragon boat and learn from their experiences which allows me to bring that insight to my teams. I am always seeking opportunities to develop as a paddler and coach which has led me to some pretty awesome experiences. There is nothing more engaging to me than comparing notes with other coaches and watching athletes develop.

Q: When this crisis passes, in terms of paddling, what are you looking forward to the most when normalcy returns?

A: I am looking forward to bringing what I have learned from my experience with the Dragon Boat Canada National Team program to my teams. As we haven’t been in a dragon boat since I returned from Pattaya I have not had the opportunity to put some of my new thoughts into practice. Looking forward to Fifth Moon’s 21st-ish season and Snappin’ Dragons’ 11th-ish! 🙂