It is hard to believe I have been steering for six years! During this time I have had the opportunity to steer with Knot A Breast (KAB), The Warlocks and Great Lake Paddlers dragon boat teams. I would say my true passion is for KAB.  I have had the privilege of participating in everything from practices to international events, first as a paddler; and then as a steersperson.

Back of the Boat View, London, 2019.

As a steersperson, I have both made mistakes, and experienced the highest of high feelings you get “when it all goes right”.  Through it all I have learned and learned and learned.

Do I miss paddling? Yes, and given the opportunity I squeeze it in where I can. I loved my time on the water in the OC1 program this past summer and all the reminders of what it is like to paddle.

Learning to steer is a process. Remember your initial frustrations in learning to paddle? I felt them in the beginning, and applied my own advice: give yourself time to learn the skill of steering.

Smiling at Hart Lake, 2019.

Can it be scary? Yes, it takes time to build confidence. However, the more you steer, the more you do, the more your confidence will build, and you will eventually start to see the benefits.

Can it be frustrating? Yes, there is nothing like trying to hold your balance, steer a straight course, and feel the frustration of thinking, “if I could just stand another foot outside the boat, the balance would be sooo much better…!”

Just think …When paddlers are told to keep their heads in the boat—the steers have a panoramic view.

The steersperson is a valued member of the team. Just think if you fall off the boat (and I have), the boat lacks direction and will soon have to stop.

Training in Sarasota, 2019.

Remember it is a water sport. And eventually we all get wet.

We all talk about that feeling in the boat for when “it all goes right”. This experience is only amplified at the back of the boat. For me, on the last day of practice 2021, and after the all the challenges we have faced just to get back on the water: IT WAS VERY RIGHT.

I have, as the steersperson for KAB, witnessed the immense comraderie and support teammates give each other.  They are there for each other when it feels tough and to also cheer a job well-done, both in practice and in competition.  There is truly nothing like the experience of watching a crew give their all at the end of a race and cross that finish line. This moment as a steersperson can only be described as a feeling of “lift and glide”, and a sense of togetherness and a trueness that is magical.  

Being a steersperson has truly given me an opportunity to be an integral part of the magic! 

Donna Lue Reise