I typed this post up in September and thought I’d have some pictures so I delayed posting it. But I never did get the pics the kids promised to send. So, here it is. A little late. (11/22/2010 – I did find a picture on the web, it’s posted at the bottom)
On the 11th the city of Shreveport had their second annual dragon boat festival so I thought I’d cruise on down to the riverfront for a few hours to look around, and then head back to the apartment to read a little and maybe take a nap. Seemed like a great way to spend a Saturday.
Of course that didn’t work out the way I’d planned it. I was down there watching the 30 or so teams get ready for the races when they announced that several teams needed people to fill in and asked for volunteers. I couldn’t help myself and in short order I was assigned to the Young Life team – a group of high school seniors who’d never paddled anything and hadn’t shown up for the practice sessions the week before. OK, I figured I’d still be able to make it home by noon and relax.
First race. Three boats, one of which was a team from Houston that had their own carbon-fiber paddles and matching life vests. These guys were serious. We came in 1/2 a boat length behind them. The boys in Young Life were astounded that they’d done so well. The guys from Houston were getting a lecture from their coach as we walked past. He was not happy. “Do you realize that THOSE PEOPLE almost beat you?” The kids all perked up and walked a little taller as they heard that!
Second race. We won. Oh boy. These guys were getting the hang of the team work required when you have 20 paddlers in the same boat all trying to hit the water with their paddles at exactly the same time and move the boat forward. And, of course, a boat full of 19 guys who are 18 years old (plus me filling a seat and yelling along with them) the male hormones are in full flow and the water was flying. They were starting to think maybe they could hang in there a little.
Third race. We won again. By now they’d divided everyone into four groups and we were in the fastest group of all! This third race put us into the final race for this group. We were competing against the guys from Houston, the Shreveport Firefighters (winners last year and a bunch with arms the size of my legs), the Shreveport Mudbugs minor leage hocky team players, and a team of Air Force guys from the base over in Bossier City.
As the day wore on and these kids kept advancing they were getting more and more excited. The guy announcing the races kept referring them as the “upset team of the day” and “Team Young Life – those upstarts.” As we’d finish races and they walked back to their area other teams were cheering for them. These boys were higher than kites.
Last race of the day against five other boats. They came in fourth – less than 2 seconds behind the first place team (the firefighters) and just behind the Houston guys and the air force. But they beat the hockey players. They walked away vowing to put together a team for 2011. So, Shreveport Firefighters – watch out for Young Life in 2011, they’re coming for you!