2016 has definitely gotten a pretty bad name for itself for a lot of reasons, to the point that I’ve seen books solely about why it’s the worst year ever. For those of us lucky enough to be involved in ULKC though, apart from a lack of rain I think there were a lot of good memories created this year, ones that have me excited for what 2017 has to offer. As we’re about to close the door on the past year I wanted to throw together this defense of 2016, a year in review through my eyes.
If I somehow wrote up all that ULKC’s members managed to do in the past year it would be far too long to read with trips all over Ireland, the Alps and people competing in Germany and Scotland so instead I’ve chosen five moments that have stood out to me. Five times that I was reminded of all we get out of this club. So, in no particular order, and without further adieu…
When UL won the kayaking intervarsity’s in 2010 I doubt anyone expected that trophy to be staying as long as it has. During my first year in the club I remember seeing how much it meant to both current and past members to win and although I didn’t fully appreciate the effort that had gone in it was clear that this was something to be respected.
Thanks to preparation and training, last February we saw the current club do those who came before them proud again in trying to continue the legacy. With all our work it’s still always a tight race though and the final awards ceremony can be an nerve-wracking experience. When the work paid off and the results were announced it was emotional for some, relieving for others and isn’t a moment those who competed with us will forget soon. For me it made me very proud to see our members commitment pay off and have them rewarded for it.
- Island Camping Trip
This one might just be the Scout in me talking but our now annual island camping trip has become a highlight for me. 25 of us left the technology aside, paddled out, cooked on an open fire, sang songs and slept under the stars. It’s always nice to introduce the less outdoorsy to this kind of trip and I love seeing how easily people bond while there. As long as we’re as blessed with the weather next year it’s not one to be missed.
- 40th Anniversary Weekend
So much to say here. Seeing 40 years worth of the clubs legacy makers return and meet old friends again. Watching over 100 people make their way down Castleconnell, some of whom hadn’t paddled in years. Getting to be a part of such a well planned ball that evening and speaking to the captains who led the club to where it is now and formally thank them all together. Everyone got something from the weekend with multiple people getting back into kayaking because of it and many meeting old friends again. For me though I would describe it as inspirational. Inspirational to see such a big event pulled off so professionally and inspirational to speak to the people who drove the club to being as renowned as it is. Personally awarding the mementos to the captains is a memory that will stick with me for some time.
- Alps – The Middle Guil
Running the Middle Guil was the highlight of the advanced runs in this year’s Alps trip for me. It was the run that brought together everything the group had been learning and provided a good test of peer paddling for everyone. In the group I saw people take on responsibility within the group, take everything slowly and safely as they were always taught to and saw safety setup and rescues dealt with exactly as you would hope for. It made the time working on those skills all worth it and hopefully means good things for the future having these people to pass it all on.
- Teaching, Teaching, Teaching
The fuel that keeps the club going. It’s a satisfying thing to teach someone a skill and have them pass it on to others right away, and in a sport like this where there’s always something to learn the more we’re teaching the bigger and better the heights the club can reach. Luckily this one’s not just boiling down to a single moment, instead it was seen on all the trips, and that’s something to be proud of the club for. It is the quick conversion of students to teachers that got us to where we are now and it’s what decides where your heading years down the line. The Castleconnell trip in the photo below had 25 people on it, all there to learn, be that learn to paddle or learn to teach and it’s trips like these that I love being a part of, where you can really see the difference you make as you teach.
So that’s it, sort of. Being captain of this club has given me the opportunity to be involved in everything and it gives me so many reasons to be proud. I haven’t even touched on this year’s huge river clean up, our fundraiser for Limerick Marine Search & Rescue with the help of Get West, the volunteering by our members at the Sean O’Sullivan Memorial Swim and Hell of the West triathlon, people placing in multiple competitions and races around Ireland and internationally, our first club Olympics, our pool parties and of course our internal awards where we named the most improved fresher’s and awarded those whose attitude has stood out to us.
There is constantly something to look forward to, and everywhere you look there is learning, teaching and the transferring of our growing passions for this sport. So to everyone who has been a part of this huge year, Thank You, none of this would be possible without you and it’s because of you that I’m so excited for 2017. If anyone’s looking for a last minute resolution; you will never regret giving back to the club, getting out there and being a part of these experiences as much as possible and adding to them in whatever way you can will give you a lot to be proud of and a lot to be happy about. Happy New Years everyone, get out there and make it a great one.
By Brian O’Mahony