The Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Race Team won its fourth-straight national title over the weekend in San Diego. National powerhouse Georgia came in second place while host San Diego came in third.
For the club, winning wasn’t surprising, but the 150-point margin between Gig Harbor and Georgia’s Lake Lanier club was a huge gap.
“We expected intense competition, and we got it from Lanier,” said GHCKRT parent and social media curator Louise Tieman. “At the end of the day, the point totals came out to what they did. The kids fought hard for those points.”
The venue was the Chula Vista Olympic training center, which was a thrill for the participants. The torch at the visitor’s center was lit during the opening ceremony. GHCKRT head coach Alan Anderson wasn’t in attendance, spending time with his family. For a coach who has put countless hours into building the program, it was a little weird for him to not be there, he admitted.
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Anderson listened in on his cellphone when the announcers listed the final tallies, putting the Gig Harbor team in first place, once again.
“As far as what the team did, it was fantastic,” Anderson said. “I’m so pleased for everybody in the community and the team. There’s a very special dynamic in this team. The kids take ownership. It’s an exciting thing to see as we go forward. A lot of hours go into the work behind the scenes to win a championship. A lot of strategy goes into pulling this off. I’d like to see it continue. I’m very proud and pleased.”
Hiring high-performance coach Holm Schmidt in the spring likely helped Anderson’s mind stay at ease while he wasn’t in attendance. Anderson credits Schmidt with the continued improvement and development of the club’s best racers.
“Holm was able to come here in March and get more mileage on the water from the high-performance kids,” Anderson said. “That championship is directly attributable to Holm’s excellent coaching. Frankly, Georgia and San Diego are coming after us. We’re very lucky and fortunate to pull off another victory. It’s exciting. I’d like to go after number five now in Oklahoma City.”
When the team found out it had won, members were all eager to speak to Anderson on the phone. With about 50 kids yammering at once through the speakerphone, Anderson might not have been able to make out much of what they were saying, but he could feel the excitement.
“(Anderson) is certainly the inspirational heart of the team,” Tieman said.
Tieman and Anderson both gave lots of credit to all the parent volunteers who kept everything running smoothly.
“It’s a huge team ... there’s a lot of boat swapping,” Tieman said. “Parent volunteers are also critical in making that happen. It’s a tremendous amount of work and they do it really well. That leaves the coaching to the coaches.”
The sky continues to be the limit for the GHCKRT, which is in the midst of an impressive run of national dominance.
“With Holm adding his strategies, the kids will get better even faster at younger ages,” Tieman said. “The future just looks bright.”