Dragon Boat practices start April 4th, Sunday, 1pm

The Gung Haggis Dragon Boat team will start practices on Sundays at 1pm, beginning April 4th. 10 practices and then we will race June 19 and 20, at the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival – held at Science World / Creekside Park on the East End of False Creek, Vancouver. To join the team, contact me – coach and Director – Todd Wong 604-987-7124, cell 604-240-7090 or e-mail gunghaggis@yahoo.ca

20 paddlers + Drummer + Steersperson are required for the races, and we usually have 2 or 3 rotating spare paddlers so that everybody gets to race. the team has an inclusive philosophy that ensures that every person feels a part of the team and has the opportunity to race and evolve as a paddler.

We also focus on multiculturalism, as I take the team to Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Gardens each year for a tour to discover the harmony and balance of Chinese Philosophy + demonstration and lesson of Tai Chi, that we integrate into our dragon boat practices.

This is a team that emphasizes fun and comraderie over winning at all costs. We have developed many special friendships over this past year and have supported each other in our other activities.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Toddish McWong's Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner is our major fundraiser and emphasizes arts, culture and multiculturalism. It has grown from 40 people in 1998 to 550 people in 2004.

There are many opportunities to race throughout the summer now, all through July, August and into September. Team members are able to pick and choose which events best suit their schedules. Cost is by event with a team membership. Some events cost more than others so members can choolse to go to Victoria and Kelowna or stay to race in Richmond and Vancouver.

I love dragon boat paddling and have been involved since 1993, when I joined the Hamazaki Wong sponsored Headliners. We won the novice division in our first year. The second year we moved into the recreational category, and I wrote a story about our dragon boat experiences for the Vancouver Sun.

In my third year, I was asked to coach a team for Fiesta West after taking courses at SFU in sports psychology and Athletics. Good coaching is very important. I have learned so much from Dr. David Cox, sports psychologist at Simon Fraser Universitiy. David has worked with the best athletes, tennis star Grant Connors, Steve Nash and the Canadian National Basketball Team coached by Jay Triano, the national ski programs, Kelly Law and her curling team, Emmanuel Sandhu.

I have taken Levels 1, 2 & 3 for the theory components of the National Coaching Certification Program. This is the best coaching program and is recognized globally, as other countries have copied this. There is currently no technical recognition for dragon boats in NCCP, but the equivalent is offered by False Creek Racing Canoe Club.

Alan Carlsson has put together a very good course, and he has recognized me as a good coach and asked me to give two seminars in dragon boat history and sociology at the 1st Dragon boat Coaching Conference in 2002. I called my seminars Team Tribalism: the history and sociology of Dragon Boats.

In 1997, I started Celebration Dragon boat team for the Celebration of Life Centre and also coached the Mad Paddlers. That summer I started paddling on recreational and competitive teams to expand my dragon boat knowledge, training and racing with The Coasters who won 2nd in Competitive in Victoria. that year. This is the best way to learn – try out more advanced teams and coaches. Finding a good mentor who can explain the things you otherwise learn slowly on your own by experience.

In the subsequent years, I have coached many corporate and community teams for Electronic Arts, Unipharm, Nokia Dragons, Civil Serpents, Shaw, GVRD. Starting in 1999, began a string of medals in every competition I entered for either coaching or paddling with teams. Novice B Silver with Unipharm at Alcan, Novice Silver in Victoria with Civil Serpents, Novice Gold in San Francisco with a San Francisco team.

In 2000, we moved into the recreation brackets with Gold in Rec B with Nokia Dragons, Gold in Diamond Division in Victoria with Civil Serpents. For 2001, it was Comp B Silver with Civil Serpents at Alcan, then I raced the rest of the year with Greg Lamb's GM dragon boat team, in Victoria in Diamond and Kelowna where we came 1st in Platinum B, before winning Silver in San Francisco, 2nd in Mens, and 1st overall for best visiting team.

For 2002, and 2003, I changed by priorities and spent more time working with Asian Heritage Month and less time with Dragon Boats, focusing on rebuilding Celebration Team into Gung Haggis. We had about 4 returning paddlers and we raced in Alcan and Kelowna, I integrated many of the things I had learned from racing with the GM team in terms of travel.

A significant development for Gung Haggis was inviting Coach Bob Brinson to steer with us in Kelowna when I was lucky enough to find him in Kelowna spectating without a team to race with. All these ideas really came to fruition in 2003, as Bob coached together with me, and we build the 2003 Gung Haggis team into a Rec D medal contender at Alcan, raced in Kent WA, won Rec B medals in Portland, won medals in Victoria joining up with Ken Hong's Dieselfish team from San Francisco and contended for medals in the Brand new Vancouver Taiwan Dragon Boat races that both Bob and I helped organize.

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