Reprinted from Emerson College JSONS (Journalism Students’ Online News Service).
Daniel Kobialka, Emma P. Tiemchaiyapum
Emerson College’s dragon boat team earned a silver medal in Mixed Division E, a group that featured college, corporate and all-women dragon boat teams, and finished third among colleges in its debut at the 31st Anniversary Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival of Boston on Sunday.
The 17-member team includes Emerson students, employees and alumni. Emerson College media librarian Maureen Tripp formed the Emerson team after her experience last year as a member of the Dragon Divas.
“It took a while for everyone to learn what dragon boating really was, and it took a little while for us to get a team together,” Tripp said. “But once we did, everything has come together really well, and I think people have really enjoyed it.”
Tripp said she enjoys her role, but takes a short-term approach to the goals of the team.
“We’re just going to take it for today, and see how we do today. Hopefully, people are interested and we can have another turn,” Tripp said. “This is our first-ever team and we’re just gonna see how we do today.”
The team launched a Facebook fan page to spread its message, but word of mouth has been the most effective way for the team to promote itself, Tripp said.
“We haven’t really had time to promote ourselves because we’ve been learning to paddle,” Tripp said. “So that’s taken up all of our time.”
Jeff Hancock, a team member who works with Tripp at the Iwasaki Library, said the Lions are a competitive group that is ready and willing to learn.
“It’s just a bunch of good people. We’re all pretty easygoing so if someone steps up and says hey we should try doing this, we’re willing to give it a shot,” Hancock said. “We’re all in the same position where we’ve never really done this before, except like how Maureen has done it. We take constructive criticism and ideas and try to do the best that we can.”
The team finished 33rd out of 37 teams in the Saturday time trial, but Hancock said he was satisfied with the results.
“We were happy. We beat some people. This team has just grown together,” Hancock said. “And we’ve had like four practices, so we didn’t know how we’d do.”
Race director Peter Lew said he became involved with the festival a couple of decades ago because the event gave him an opportunity to do community work.
“It’s a 3,000 year old Chinese holiday. My family had always celebrated it here, but I had never seen live dragon boats,” Lew said. “So I was pretty curious.”
Lew also helped organize this year’s, and competed in the dragon boat races as a member of the Metro Athletic Dragons.
Lew said anyone can join a dragon boat team.
“It’s a sport that the entry level is easy,” he said. “And then as long as you work at it, you can perfect your technique, and you can get very good at it.”
The dragon boat races gave fans the opportunity to cheer on friends and family in the competition. Andrew Zamon cheered his wife, Christina, as she competed with the Emerson Lions.
“It’s lasting a little longer than I thought because they keep winning,” Andrew Zamon said. “But that’s not a bad thing.”
Andrew Zamon said he looks forward to not only the race, but also the food at the event. The festival gives fans the opportunity to feast on Asian cuisine from a variety of restaurants, while also giving fans performances including the Wah Lum Kung Fu Academy’s famous Lion Dance.
Tripp said enjoying the festival takes precedence over the dragon boat competition.
“I think this whole thing is a festival, and not like an intense dragon boat competition,” Tripp said. “Other competitions are, but this is more for fun.”