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Dragon riders making history

The Dragon Riders is one of only three youth dragon boat competitive teams on the Island. - Photo submitted
The Dragon Riders is one of only three youth dragon boat competitive teams on the Island.
— image credit: Photo submitted

The newest dragon boat team on the bay is making sport history as the Comox Valley’s first competitive youth team.

Having chosen the name Dragon Riders, the team is comprised of 19 youths, ages 13 to 17-years-old. Formed through an initiative of the Prevailing Wins dragon boat team, the youth team has been practicing weekly since May under the careful guidance of certified tiller, Norm Flower, coaches Bill Jay and Peter Williams, drummer Karen Pedersen, as well as a rotation of four Prevailing Wins team members—all of whom volunteer their time and experience.

“Dragon Riders as a team has come so far, so fast,” said team Captain Leon Van Noorden. “ We have entered them in the 2012 Comox Nautical Days dragon boat races.”

Coach Bill Jay added, “This youth team is awesome. They have the technique, the skill, the stamina and confident enthusiasm to excel in competition.”

With financial and volunteer support from Prevailing Wins, the Dragon Riders is one of only three youth dragon boat competitive teams on Vancouver Island. Boosted by a generous grant and volunteer time from Investors Group’s Kirk Campbell, Mandy Baker and Rob Backhouse, the team has been able to purchase paddles and boat rentals, essential components of their training.

“At Investors Group, we believe in supporting youth and families in equal opportunities to participate in organized sport,” said spokesperson Kirk Campbell. As part of their corporate strategy, Investors Group not only funds Dragon Riders, but they also contribute significant volunteer time to the team as well, assisting in practices.

“This is the kind of sport we heartily endorse—it brings together youth of different ages, genders, and abilities—and enhances values such as teamwork, leadership, commitment, accountability, and camaraderie,” said Many Baker.

Rob Backhouse noted that, “Dragon Riders gives us the opportunity to be a part of something huge.”

Comox Valley teens wishing to join the team can contact Leon Van Noorden at pwyouth@hotmail.com  or (250) 339-5772.

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