The Troy Trojan Warriors will be participating in the seventh annual Montgomery Dragon Boat race for the first time on Saturday, Aug. 27.
Dragon boating is a sport that dates back to the southern provinces of China over 2,000 years ago.
With a boat of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steers person, teams compete by paddling as quickly and efficiently as they can to cross the finish line before their competitors.
The Montgomery Dragon Boat Race & Festival serves as a major fundraiser for two river region nonprofit organizations, Bridge Builders Alabama and Rebuilding Central Alabama Together, according to Amy Waters, director of community outreach at Troy’s Montgomery campus.
“This event is one of the most popular events in our community,” Waters said. “There are about 70 to 80 teams that compete each year.”
The boat race is just one part of the festival, according to www.montgomerydragonboat.org website.
“Local food vendors, exhibitors, artists and other small businesses will have booths spread throughout the park.”
It is regarded as a highly competitive event. The teams include a variety of team members from firefighters and CrossFit groups, to alumni groups from surrounding universities and several local businesses.
Auburn University at Montgomery and Huntingdon College are also taking part in the competition.
“We are excited about this event, as it showcases Troy’s community spirit,” Waters said.
“We are pleasantly surprised at the number of students, faculty and staff that have volunteered to participate. We are hoping to finish strong.”
Lance Tatum, vice chancellor of Troy University Montgomery Campus, is this year’s team captain.
Tatum said that he spearheaded the idea to participate in the event because he believed that the race was an excellent way to get Troy University involved in a citywide, community event.
He also mentioned that the director of community outreach, Amy Waters, was primarily responsible for organizing the team and is considered the representative for the university.
“First, I’d like to thank the Troy University Confucius Institute for sponsoring our team,” Tatum said. “Dr. Iris Xu and her staff have been very supportive of our interest in participating.”
“Our first step was to recruit a team of paddlers, and we now have 33 team members signed up. We have faculty, staff, students (all from both the Montgomery and Troy campuses), as well as spouses of faculty and staff participating on the team.”
The Troy University team, also known as the Troy Trojan Warriors, has had two practice sessions, each one hour long, with a provided dragon boat coach.
The practice sessions took place on the Alabama River at the downtown Riverfront Park venue.
“This is a great way to meet other Troy University staff, faculty and students whom you may not have been able to meet in the past,” Tatum said.
“Our team intends to carry this forward to next year.”
Rachel Skipworth, an auxiliary services coordinator at the Troy University Montgomery campus, has expressed interest in the event for the past several years.
“I enjoy competing in different activities, and it is a new challenge as well as a chance to work as a team with different people,” Skipworth said.
According to Skipworth, apart from the practice sessions, she has been preparing for the competition through her daily exercise of cardio, while adding more arm weights to her exercise.
Skipworth said her motivation to participate in this competition derives from her desire to represent Troy well.
“I don’t feel nervous at all. I am actually very excited,” Skipworth said.
More information about the festival, race and other activities can be found at www.montgomerydragonboat.com.