Team combines strength and athletics

Megan Engle

Building on their success from the past as well as the present, the Concrete Canoe Team has been recognized not only for their physical strength but for their academic abilities as well.

Comprised of 15 team members, the canoe team recently unveiled their eighth straight regional victory at the Ohio Valley Regional Championship – the goal the team has worked for all year.

“Our success this year is really the result of all the efforts of the past years,” said Matthew Dettman, associate professor of engineering and the Concrete Canoe Team faculty advisor. “We continue to build on the success of the past, and what we teach in the classroom.”

The canoe

For the competition the team must build a canoe from a mixture of concrete containing numerous materials such as glass bubbles and sand.

“For me it’s a chance to be a part of a construction project, learning and then applying some of the things we learned in our engineering and construction management courses,” said Morgantown senior Cody Henderson, project manager.

The canoe, which is a year long project, is put to the test in five different categories of racing. These categories include the men’s and women’s 200 meter, the men’s and women’s 600 meter and the co-ed 200 meter with two men and two women paddlers.

“Seventy-seven percent of the competition is academics,” Dettman said. “The students work really hard.”

The members of the team all hold their own leadership position, which includes paddlers, a project manager, eight task leaders who are responsible for their own section of the building project and laborers who assist in building the canoe.

“Everyone likes competition, but success is what draws me in and that helps to get us recognized for our efforts,” Morgantown senior Deneatra Flener said.

The competition

The overall competition is broken down into four different percentages. Thirty percent is based on the technical report, which is about a 10-page design construction of the canoe. Twenty-five percent of the competition is oral presentation, which includes a seven minute question and answer session with the judges. Fifteen percent is the final product of the canoe, where the judges are looking for damage and durability. The remaining 30 percent is what place the team takes in the actual races.

Flener said that she feels the team’s success comes from the team members’ sacrifices and dedication.

The team heads to Three Springs Park when it’s time to practice.

Since each team member is given their own duty, each member has a different practice schedule. For example, the paddlers focus on their technique and strength by working out in the water for a couple hours three to four days per week, along with weight training. Every member must put in additional hours to get their job close to perfect.

“Every team member works hard for regionals,” Henderson said.

Sweet victory

Working hard often brings many rewards.

“The most rewarding?has probably been our performance at one time in regionals, we were successful in everything we tried to do,” Flener said.

Last year the team won the academic portion in nationals, and took fourth overall due to the race portion.

Flener said there are other schools that put in?just as much effort as they do.

“Clemson has always been in the top,” Flener said. “But they are our mentors, too. I hate to call us competitors because we have a close connection with them.”

The team will compete in nationals in Philadelphia on June 20.

Henderson said their performance in nationals will be a reflection of their hard work and commitment from capable team members.

“We are definitely in the top five and we are going?to win,” Flener said. “We would not put?this much time and effort if we were not going to win.”

Reach Megan Engle at [email protected]