Paddling girls pose for a photo before their race
Paddling girls pose for a photo before their race
Submitted by Chanel Awai

Paddling Girls take 2nd place

After winning second place at the Hawai’i High School Athletic Association’s State Canoe Paddling Championship, the Mid Pacific girls canoe paddling team reflected on what led to their successful year.
“Our state’s crew was definitely really close. Probably the closest sports team I had being at Mid Pacific,” senior Chanel Awai said.
Girls canoe paddling consistently ranked second place in island races. Despite ranking second to Kamehameha’s team for most of the season, they managed to beat them at the finish line in Hilo, placing second over their third.
“We all thought we got third but then our coach that was in the water was like ‘yes girls, great job! This was the best you could’ve done.’ He’s one of those people that don’t smile, and once we finished he was so happy. That was probably my favorite moment,” Awai said.
The excitement in their coaches and family members’ eyes wasn’t the only thing players took pride in. The entire team knew they deserved the award.
“I broke down because I knew myself and our crew deserved the trophy. I didn’t care that we lost. I knew [that] me individually and us as a whole put our whole into it and whatever result we came out with, I knew we did everything we could,” Awai said.
These relationships were formed despite it being some players’ first year on the team.
“This was my first year paddling for Mid Pacific, so they motivated me every single practice. Even pre-season when we were on dry land, they were [saying] ‘Let’s go girls!’ Every time we did a push up or counted, we [chanted] ‘Hilo, Hilo!’” senior Hoapili Kukea-Shultz said.
The welcoming, motivational nature of the team aided in the strengthening of the paddlers’ relationships.
“We’re so close now,” Kukea-Shultz said. “The fact that we were considered underdogs [made us] all want to do something, so every practice we all challenged each other.”
However, teammates also knew when to exercise compassion instead of challenging instead.
“If one person is not having a [good] day, we’d know what’s going on in each other’s lives. We help each other feel better,” senior Leilah Estchiet said.
This couldn’t have been a better way to end senior year, the girls reflected.
“This year, because I’m a senior, I really cared. I wanted it to be a memorable season and we all put effort [in]to knowing each other and having more gatherings,” Estchiet said.
But their relationship won’t end now that the season is over and the awards have been won. This team plans to maintain their strong friendship.
“[We plan on] eating lunch together once a week. We also talk on the phone a lot and always talk during passing time at school whenever we run into each other. We’ve planned to keep this bond as strong as it is,” Awai said.

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