Pre-pandemic our team was made up of two groups: “Newbies” and “Vets”. “Newbies” are team members that had joined that year. Their full integration into the team starts with the Newbie race. That is the initiation and introduction into dragon boat racing! After that event, team members are considered “Vets”. However, it is not until the next season that members participate in the full card of races and truly feel enmeshed with the team. There has always been this yearly cycle of Newbies and Vets within our team.
The pandemic has definitely created some grey areas in this normally stream-lined process. We now have “Pro-Newbies”: women who joined in winter 2020, who have been participating in training, but have NOT actually gotten into our dragon boat. They are like “Super-Newbies” with lots of fitness training but no practical experience! They have been bumped as “Newbies” by the women who have joined this winter 2021. Both groups of women are hungry and eager to get a taste of what dragon boating truly feels like, to get the thrill that the seasoned members have when they talk about the joys of dragon boating.
With this pandemic pause in mind, I now affectionately refer to the women who joined with me in 2019 as the “Pre-Pro-Newbies”. We are the women who got that “little taste” from competing in our first race. We did a lot of training in the boat that season, before and afterwards, and were excited and anxious to see how our training and commitment translated on the water! That “taste” meant we actually know what we are missing! And so for our group, it has felt like “paddling purgatory”, where we didn’t quite make it to the place of sharing stories of big races and training camps, but we are not brand new team members either. Our mettle is anxiously waiting to be really tested!
The vaccines started arriving here in Canada at the start of 2021, and as we approach summer 2021 we are hopeful to all get the promised “jabs” that will hopefully allow us to resume our normal activities. Recently, I was very fortunate to receive my second jab because of my blood disorder and am now fully vaccinated! It was definitely a Happy Day! I am looking forward to the day we are all vaccinated and paddling together as a team. For this “Pre-Pro-Newbie” it feels a bit like starting over. However, it is very reassuring to know that I am in very good company!