GBC alumna Lisa Tai, shares her passion and love for dragon boating with students
It takes effort, passion and an extreme amount of determination to organize and co-ordinate an event. For Lisa Tai, a George Brown College (GBC) alumna, event chair and club co-ordinator, her love for dragon boating makes planning competitions enjoyable.
On Jan. 23, the third annual Ontario University Indoor Dragon Boat Championships was held at GBC’s Waterfront campus. The simulated event used an ergometer, known as a rowing machine, which measured the amount of energy the rowers were using, helping them with their strength and increasing their motivation for the upcoming season.
Tai, the woman behind the scenes, made sure everything ran smoothly and that it was enjoyable for everyone.
“I thought the competition would be a great halfway point during the off season for the competitors,” said Tai.
As strong and determined as she is, Tai keeps busy not only co-ordinating events but through coaching the GBC and Ryerson dragon boat clubs.
Having previously graduated from the nursing program at Ryerson University, it was there that she began dragon boat racing due to pressure from her friends who said, “hey you’re a strong girl, why don’t you come join the team?”
After graduating from Ryerson, she attended George Brown to continue her studies in fitness and health promotion, and that’s where she had a moment of realization.
“I was the club supervisor for the Ryerson dragon boat club and I thought, ‘hey I am a student at George Brown, why don’t I found one here?’”
That’s exactly what she did.
“It turns out that we did really well,” said Tai of her first experience with GBC paddlers. “Even though we only practiced once a week, it was purely developmental and recreational. From there I thought we’re ready to get a little more competitive.”
GBC is now coasting into their second year as a dragon boat club.
Construction engineering student, Ryan Luu, has been on the team since it first started, saying, “last year I was testing the waters, and this year I fell in love with the sport.”
“She loves this sport and she’s giving it her all,” said Luu recalling Tai’s commands as a coach. “We feel her passion through what she says, and that motivates us to push ourselves even harder.”
It is clear that Tai loves what she’s doing and shapes her life around it. Also a personal trainer at the Pan Am Games Centre, she helps both GBC and Ryerson students plan their workouts outside of their practice time.
With high hopes for the upcoming season, it is expected to be a joint team of both Ryerson and George Brown paddlers for nationals in June. However, at the start of the season both teams will practice together at the Ryerson University pool every Saturday, and when it comes to competing against each other, Tai considers the teams as “just another competitor” but at the end of the day both teams are like family.
“They see each other and they make new friends, so we are like sibling teams,” said Tai. “We want our schools to do better, but we do cheer on the other team when they’re competing.”
Encouraging students to join the dragon boat club, Tai wants people to reach out to the teams’ social media accounts and ask them where and when they can start practicing.
With a coach as dedicated as Tai, anything is possible for the future of dragon boating at George Brown.