This Q&A was with Dragon Boat World Athlete, Alice Tran, National Athlete – Team USA.
DRAGON BOAT WORLD ATHLETE PROFILE
NAME: Alice Tran
BIRTHPLACE: Boston, Massachusetts
TRAINING COMMITMENT: Part-Time
POSITION: Paddler; Team USA U18 Assistant Coach
PADDLING SIDE: Left and Right
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships 2011, 1 Bronze, 2 Silvers – Premier Women, Standard Boat, 500m, 1000m, 2000m
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships 2013, 2 Bronzes – Premier Women, Standard Boat, 500m, 2000m
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships 2013, 1 Gold, 1 Silver – Premier Mixed, Standard Boat, 1000m, 2000m
IDBF 1st World Cup 2014, Silver – Premier Men & Women, Small Boat Pursuit Race, 1000m
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships 2015, 1 Gold, 3 Silvers – Premier Women, Standard Boat, 2000m, 200m, 500m, 1000m
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships 2015, 2 Silvers – Premier Mixed, Standard Boat, 1000m, 2000m
Dragon Boat World Athlete, Alice Tran, grew up knowing about the sport but that little girl didn’t know she would be partaking in it someday and become a World Champion. “I knew about dragon boat ever since I was a little kid.” she said. “I grew up in Boston and the Boston Dragon Boat festival is one of the first and oldest Dragon Boat races in North America. My parents used to take us to the Charles River to watch the races and experience the festivities.”
Like most of us paddlers, we get introduced to dragon boat by paddler friends—very very convincing paddler friends. Alice was recruited by Raymond Lem, a friend and co-worker of hers. Her first try at dragon boating was with M.A.D., a dragon boat team in New York. She went for that ‘mad’ practice with her sister who used to paddle with Boston YMCA. She shared: “My sister moved back to Boston. I stayed and got addicted to the team work and competition of the sport.”
National Team Tryouts
Coaches are gifted to see, smell and feel their athletes’ talent, spirit and potential. Keith Tsui, Alice’s coach at M.A.D., got it right when he asked her to try out for the national team. “I was hesitant as it was only my second year of paddling and had just switched paddling side.”, she said. Alice trained hard for it and she got a call from Coach Bob McNamara congratulating her for making it to Team USA. Alice recalled: “That was the longest two weeks ever but indeed worth the wait and all the hard work paid off. I’ve been trying out for every World Championship since.”
On her 8th year of paddling, with multiple IDBF World Nations medals on her neck, Alice left Catch22 Dragon Boat NYC to venture on giving back to the (dragon boat) community. “After five years, I left Catch22 at the end of 2015 to pursue something entirely different.”, she said. “Catch22 will always be my legacy. I was there from the beginning and watched the team grow but at that point I felt like I needed to do something for the community and that was to transfer my skills to the next generation and develop new strong paddlers.”
Juniors Program @ DCH Racing
DCH Racing New York has a very large juniors program and when Alice had gotten to know DCH, she instantly knew that this was the team she needed to be part of. “They welcomed me with open arms and I have found my new family, too.” she remarked. “I’m looking forward to learning from my new DCH Coach, Randy Ng.”
Life outside of Dragon Boat
Trying out for the National Team also introduced Alice to outrigger canoeing; so when she’s not on a dragon boat she’d be out in the water with her OC1. She loves travelling and so her being in the National Team has fulfilled that–compete and explore. “My favourite part of travelling is exploring other cultures. I try to look for things that locals do.” she said. “I love being outdoors. This is why I love paddling so much. It gives me the opportunity to travel to the most remote locations. I’ve never even heard of Hódmezővásárhely, Hungary until I went to race there. I still can’t pronounce it.”
Q: In the span of your dragon boating career, was there a time when you had to take a sabbatical leave either from studies or work for the purpose of becoming a full-time athlete?
A: Unfortunately, paddling is a very expensive hobby/sport. In order for me to be the athlete that I am, I need to work. I have a full-time job as an IT project manager. I have to time manage really well in order to train hard. You’ll find me at the gym during lunch time and out on the water after work.
Q: Aside from the training techniques and knowledge you gained from your coaches, do you develop your own personal strategies and resources in keeping up with your teammates in the National Team?
A: To be honest, Facebook is the best way to keep up with my teammates on the National Team. We are scattered all over the country and have our own lives. We do have things that we rag on each other about. In Welland, Canada, we were driving back to the hotel and we saw a chicken cross the road. I screamed out, “OMG, there really is a chicken crossing the road!” Now, you’ll see chickens plastered all over my page. We do randomly text each other to see how we are all doing and if we will be trying out again. We post our paddling sessions and workouts to motivate and encourage each other.
Q: Speaking of National Team, when the race/training season is off, do you ladies hold a fun-forget-the-training-let’s-party-party? We’re curious to know how the Team USA Women’s crew party?
A: We talked about a reunion at some point but because we all have busy lives it’s really difficult to organise. When we are together there’s a lot of jokes, laughs, and dancing!
Q: How do you obtain satisfaction in the sport in terms of the Coach’s leadership and your personal athletic performance?
A: A trusted relationship between a paddler and coach will make me a better paddler. Being a better paddler and being able to achieve your goals is the ultimate satisfaction. Honestly though, the people that surround me on each team I’ve been on and all the friends I have met around the world is the kind of satisfaction I have obtained in the sport. Nothing can replace that.
Q: Having competed in several World Championships, at what point can you say that you have reached everything in your dragon boating life?
A: I already have two gold medals from World Championships. I think that’s every paddler’s dream. I’m definitely satisfied but there’s always a part of you that itches for more. If you’re young and still able, just keep doing it, right? The fact that I’m working with juniors now, it is opening a new chapter in dragon boating for me. So have I really reached everything? Or is it just the beginning?
Photo Credits: Fernando Huh, Ed Nguyen Photography, WIFC