Hana Anderson and Ellie Gach are going where no South Delta Sun Devil has gone before — the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Championship in St. Catharines, Ont.
The Grade 11 students will be representing their school on the world-renowned Henley course, taking on top crews from across the country. The championships are slated for May 31-to-June 2 and will conclude a busy stretch for the girls.
They will initially represent their own club when Delta Deas Rowing Club hosts its annual Scholastic Regatta this weekend on the Deas Slough.
It will then be a switch into Sun Devil colours for the trip back east. Anderson and Gach even designed their own school uniforms for the championships and they hope future students will be wearing them too. DDRC has offered its services to secondary schools in the city looking to launch rowing teams.
“The idea is to promote the sport within the high school and hope they will eventually come over (and join the club),” explained DDRC head coach Drew Edwards. “We are trying to do as many as we can. South Delta made the most sense as our first school, given its proximity to the club and the number of students playing sports on school teams. We want to expand this to all Delta schools and eventually into Surrey as well.”
Anderson and Gach already had a head start as DDRC members. Gach became intrigued with the sport after watching the 2016 Rio Olympics while Anderson followed her older brother’s footsteps.
“I wasn’t crazy about the idea at first but I had quit soccer and my parents wanted me to do a sport. As soon as I tried it, I just fell in love with it,” said Anderson. “Just the competitive aspect of it and the team spirit too. It’s not like a solo sport as you need to work within your crew to get to the finish line.”
“I just remember watching the women’s doubles in Rio and how smoothed it looked on the water,” added Gach. At least on TV, it seemed like fun so I signed up the following summer but it was not as easy as it looked!”
Anderson and Gach only knew of each other from taking a previous class together. That all changed when Edwards saw their potential as a pair. Now they are training at least five days a week and only take a reasonable break over Christmas.
“They get along and read each other’s minds and that’s what makes a good pairing,” said Edwards. “Going to the same school really helps too.”
The trip to St. Catharines is for much more than just experience. Thanks to a rowing network among clubs in Canada and U.S., Edwards can compare the girls’ progress over the 2,000 metre distance against other crews across the country. A podium finish should be well within reach.
“Being in Grade 11, they will get two chances at high school nationals,” added Edwards. “Watching them over the winter there was good progression and the results were where we wanted them to be. Now it’s an opportunity to test themselves and the last two weeks have been very good.
“Right now they are 15 seconds faster than every crew back east. We know we have a shot of coming up with a medal.”
Anderson and Gach will get a couple of days of practice back on Martindale Pond in a rented boat Edwards has secured through his connections as a graduate of Brock University. There will be two days of qualifying races to earn a spot in the final.