Paddle boarding PE unit takes it to the big leagues

Kayden+Hansong

Kayden Hansong

Lucy Peck, ESPN Correspondent

After watching masses of committed students make their way into the pool during swim rotation, the Physical Education (PE) department decided to introduce the school’s newest varsity team: Varsity Paddleboarding. Prior to the introduction of paddleboarding, sports fanatics were forced to participate in the ordinary dull offerings, such as football, basketball or lacrosse. Thus, sports fanatics were ecstatic to hear that the paddleboarding P.E. rotation became a varsity sport. 

In order to weed out the vast numbers of students interested in joining the team, Varsity Paddleboarding coach Hudd Sonriver held a long series of tryouts. Interested students were required to swim 30 consecutive laps across the Hudson River and tread water while juggling three paddles for 120 minutes before even being considered for the team. Out of an overabundance of caution, anyone who wanted to even step foot on the paddleboard had to suit up in protective gear, including padded helmets, life jackets, knee pads, lab goggles, shin pads and rubber gloves.  

Participants had varying reactions to the activity. Team member Pad Dell (10) said “The swimming and treading was the easy part. The hard part was looking like the Michelin Man, puffy from head to toe.” As a previous member of Varsity Water Polo and Girls Varsity Swim, Dell was immensely grateful that this team did not require her to get her hair wet and would allow her to maintain her weekly Drybar blowout. “I mean, there is absolutely no way I could have redone my blowout during the 5 minute passing time,” she said. 

“I was excited to finally have the chance to show off my talents,” said Goe Fishh, previously a starter on the Varsity Football and Varsity Basketball teams. In fact, Fishh was the only student scouted by Sonriver to be a starter on the varsity team. 

After discovering diamond-in-the-rough Fishh, Sonriver continued his search through the vast numbers of students trying out. Soon enough, they had narrowed the field from hundreds to a team of eight ready-to-be-D1-recruited paddleboarders ready to destroy any competition that came their way. 

The team submitted a request for funding but was promptly denied by Athletics Director Ihade Spoorts. After starting a Gofundme and raising a grand total of $2 (from Sonriver himself), the team was forced to accept defeat. Without any monetary or emotional support from the school, they were forced to practice during the members’ lunch periods. 

For the first week, at nearly every practice there was a gaggle of paparazzi taking pictures of the team outside of the pool, Fishh said.  “I can only assume that my classmates were overly excited about our rapid progress as a team and wanted to boast to their friends from other schools,” he said. “The attention detracted from my ability to focus in on my strokes,” he said.  

It was extremely difficult for the team to find any competitors at first. “I don’t know of any other schools with a team like ours,” Fishh said. Fortunately, the team was able to encourage other schools in the Ivy Preparatory League to follow the school’s lead, even making a hefty donation to Trinity in order to build a bigger pool suitable for paddleboarding.

The first paddle boarding meet against Fieldston, on February 29th, was a smashing success. The stands were full to the brim, with spectators who did not arrive early enough forced to stand along the walls. 

The participants of both teams lined up against one side of the pool eagerly awaiting the blow of the whistle. Once the match began, each player used their paddle to propel themselves to the other side of the pool as quickly as possible. 

“I feel like there is this common misconception that this sport is violent but I’m here to clarify that it is not. The only kind of violence permitted is biting, growling, punching, kicking, wrestling, screaming, hair-pulling and yelping, there is absolutely no slapping permitted,” Sonriver said. 

In fact, Dell only punched and bit 8 of her 10 competitors, she said. “I considered kicking the other two [competitors], but at that point I was risking my blowout and that just couldn’t happen.”

The Lions were victorious at their first meet, winning with a final score of 5-0. Following this crushing victory, donations and support began flooding in from school administrators, fellow students, and even the Alumni Committee. 

Given all of these donations, the team was able to splurge on new maroon uniforms and paddles. They were also able to secure a practice time after school hours, score their own yearbook spread, and create their very own Instagram page (@paddleboardinglions) to feed their ever-growing fanbase with pictures and videos from practices and meets.

Sonriver began to worry about maintaining paddle boarding musculature for all of the athletes. They suggested each of the players be offered an assistant willing to carry their backpacks for them from class to class, for fear that they may tweak their backs. Additionally, the team members were granted the ever elusive elevator access, as well as paddle boards with wheels so that they could paddle from class to class while maximizing their practice.