The Mountaineer - Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada
© 2007 The Mountaineer Publishing Company Limited.

Rocky paddlers compete in U.S. canoe polo tournament

Our local KYD kids performed extremely well and came back with some hardware from the Cup of the West canoe polo tournament near San Francisco last weekend. 
The RCC KYD program (Rocky Canoe Club Kayak Youth Development) teaches the FUNdamentals of paddlesports and exposes young paddlers from the ages of five to 17 to three competitive disciplines: slalom racing, freestyle and canoe polo.
Canoe polo is an exciting fast-paced sport that looks like a mixture of basketball and water polo played in specifically designed, lightweight but very durable and fast-maneuvering kayaks. Players wear body padding (a special PFD), helmets with face cages and try to score on a net that is elevated two metres above the water at the ends of a 35-metre long, 23-metre wide, pitch. 
The Cup of the West tournament was April 9 and 10 on the Bay Area’s home pitch at Shoreline Lake in Mountain View, California. The U.S. men’s and women’s national teams, Canadian men’s national team members and some other Albertan adults were all playing over the weekend. 
Lori Davis who instructs and coaches for the RCC said, “It was wonderful for our youth to witness such high-level play on the same pitch that they themselves were playing on.” 
There were 12 Alberta youth between the ages of 12 and 17 who went down to play. All were from the RCC with the exceptions of one from Edmonton and one from Calgary. 
The KYD kids have been training at Rocky’s Credit Union Co-op Aquatic Centre one to three times per week since last January and all of their hard work and dedication paid off. Both Youth Division teams (two teams of six) won, gold and bronze, and the KYD Alberta team comprised of seven of the oldest youths placed third in the B Division. 
The young paddlers were able to train for and attend the tournament with support from the Alberta Canoe Polo Association (equipment and subsidies) and the Alberta Slalom Canoe Kayak Association lent its travel van and trailer to transport some athletes and all the team’s gear. 
It was wonderful to be able to have all the practice time at the Credit Union Co-op Aquatic Centre these past three months as the American youth practiced outdoors on their full sized pitch. The Alberta youth squeezed in pool time wherever they could in order to be prepared. 
“Lots of people worked hard to make the whole thing come together for these kids. Their parents have played a huge role every step of the way too. Such an amazing group of people,” said coach Davis.
Many of the youth who played in California got back to Alberta, rested for a few days and then headed up to Edmonton this past weekend for the EWP’s Annual Spring Tournament at the Kinsmen Sport Centre’s 50 metre competitive pool; just can’t get enough polo I guess! 
As the weather warms, the KYD Polo program will transition to an outdoor pitch to continue developing these young Alberta athletes who will be representing Alberta and Canada again in future competitions, such as the Nationals in Canmore this summer.