Gateway: Sports

Bullpen: The Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Race Team deserves a permanent home

Rylee Price carries her kayak to the water during the fourth Annual Gig Harbor Paddlers Cup at Skansie Brothers Park in April of 2015.
Rylee Price carries her kayak to the water during the fourth Annual Gig Harbor Paddlers Cup at Skansie Brothers Park in April of 2015. Staff file

I’ve come out in defense of the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Race Team’s desire for a permanent home before. I’ll do it again. The city’s plans for Ancich Park include a community human-powered watercraft facility for the team to use. Right now, those discussions have been tabled. The club currently operates out of Skansie Park, which is OK for now, but isn’t suited for the long-haul.

The reasons for creating space for the club (and public) to use are plentiful.

First and foremost, the club is a five-time national championship winner. This club does not breed mediocrity. And while winning isn’t the most important thing in life, the results show that the club is well-respected across the country and in the Gig Harbor community.

The kids work hard, training nearly every day throughout the year. They represent Gig Harbor proudly, with class and respectfully. Their achievements and success in competition are something the entire Gig Harbor community should be immensely proud of. The dedication the athletes and coaches have for the sport is inspiring.

There’s another reason why the community should support this club, and that is particularly relevant at the moment: This club will eventually produce an Olympian.

That’s no guarantee, of course, but it seems like an inevitability at some point down the road. One of the team’s members, high-schooler Ryan Grady, was recently named the team captain for Team USA at the Olympic Hopes Regatta in September in Hungary. Several other athletes from the team were named to the regatta. The club has won five national titles in a row.

Sooner or later, one of the kids is going to represent the United States at the Olympics. A homegrown Olympian is something an entire town can rally behind. I could see the entire city glued to their televisions, anxiously waiting to see if the kid from little Gig Harbor, Washington, can take home gold for the United States.

Wouldn’t it be a shame if during the broadcast, the commentator mentioned something about the kid representing Lakewood? Or Tacoma? This club has other suitors. If the city doesn’t help find it a permanent home, it can and will move to another location in Pierce County. And for little Gig Harbor — the Maritime City, where this club built itself from a small-time operation into a national powerhouse — that would be a shame.

There will always be those who complain or find excuses to block development from happening. While I understand those who are frustrated with constant development along the downtown waterfront, there is no logical reason to block this from happening.

For the kids who have worked their tails off representing this city and who have helped put Gig Harbor on the map, let’s give them a spot on this city’s map to call home.