Army Teams Triumphant at 2013 Naha Dragon Boat Race in Japan
May 20, 2013
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NAHA PORT, Japan (May 20, 2013) -- The Army Dragon Boat teams competed at Naha Port, Okinawa, Japan, May 5, and were the only service that could successfully sound off with the following cadence at the end of the day: "Sittin' in my dragon boat, beating my drum, Paddled so hard, til' the trophies won."
Both the men and the ladies teams, which are comprised of Soldiers and family members stationed on Okinawa, Japan, won their individual heats and raced each other in the amateur finals taking first and third, respectively. It was also the first time in 39 years that both teams raced each other and an all female team made it into the finals.
"It felt really good this time, we were all a team, we knew we had it, and we rocked it," said Paulette Johnson, a rookie rower on the Army ladies team.
"Nobody could ever guess that we would get the time of 5 minutes and 10 seconds, amazing," said Stephanie Hein, assistant coach for the ladies team after their first heat. "We set a goal and we freaking destroyed it."
"We are ecstatic that we had the opportunity to race twice in this event, words can't describe, my heart is still racing a million miles a minute," said Maryanne Youngs, head coach for the ladies team. "I am overjoyed and ecstatic that the ladies pulled it off they did the hard work, I just beat a drum and yelled."
The men's team also echoed the same sentiment after they won the overall event by one second in the finals over the Okinawa Surfers Association.
"I wanted to do well, but I had no idea that we were going to do this well," said Lt. Col. Kenneth M. Leeds, the head coach for the Army Men's Team and Commander for the 505th Quartermaster Battalion. "I am very pleasantly surprised and happy. It was good for them, to put that much time and effort into practice and come here in front of all these people and actually do well, it's exhilarating."
Leeds summed up the entire dragon boat season and results from race day.
"It's all about camaraderie within the team and experiencing Okinawa's culture, which was the best thing about today and the second would be winning," he said.