Sacred Hearts Academy  |   Honolulu, Hawaii

Ka Leo

Sacred Hearts Academy  |   Honolulu, Hawaii

Ka Leo

Sacred Hearts Academy  |   Honolulu, Hawaii

Ka Leo

Senior paddlers navigate their final season

Sacred Heart Academy seniors hold their paddles tight in the waters of Magic Island. (From Left to Right) Senior Veda Gang, Anna Pinkerton, Madison Iwashita, and Charli Omura. Photo courtesy to Mahina Monsarrat Ohelo.

Whether it be on the court or out in the sea, many would agree that Sacred Heart Academy student athletes show their strength. And as the Interscholastic League of Honolulu’s (ILH) paddling season comes to an end this year, the varsity senior paddlers reflect on their days on the water.

Seniors Veda Gars, Madison Iwashita, Anna Pinkerton and Charli Omura pose for a photo with one of Kanalui Canoe Club’s outrigger canoes. These girls spend around 13 hours a week in the boats. Photo courtesy of Jordan Terry.

“It is really important to communicate, rely on and work with the people in your boat,” Madison Iwashita said. “My teammates over the years have made paddling such an enriching experience, and if you push your teammates to grow and encourage them, you will eventually end up becoming a stronger paddler, individually, and a better crew.”

The season began in October with rigorous conditioning before paddlers were able to power through the mighty ocean in an outrigger canoe.

Each race begins at Magic Island. From there, the race continues towards either the Kewalo Basin Harbor buoy or Diamond Head. These races can last for up to 25 minutes to an hour.

Iwashita has been a part of Eo Kanalui since her sophomore year at the Academy. While leading the crew in her seat-one position, she also thrives outside of the boat. This past year, Iwashita was the first student in Academy history to win the Distinguished Young Women (DYW) program. She will compete in the national DYW competition in Alabama this summer.

Team captain and steersman Charli Omura began her paddling career with Iwashita after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Omura recalls wearing face masks and social distancing whenever they were not in the boat.

Team Captain Charli Omura parks their varsity 1 boat after their sixth and final race into the Ala Moana boating dock. Many of the girls believe paddling is more mental rather than physical while racing because of the long distances and conditions of the race. Photo courtesy of Peyton Manning.

Through all the changes, Omura said, “I’ve paddled with some of these girls for a few years now, and I have seen all of these girls grow and accomplish things in their lives.”

Omura shares a similar personal experience.

“I am proud of how much more mature I’ve become and how I have grown,” she said. “I can give a lot of credit to my teammates and coaches for supporting me throughout the years and being part of the reason I’ve grown.”

These long practices and stressful race days strengthened their friendships in more than one way.

Fellow senior and second-year paddler Anna Pinkerton also shares her thoughts on her teammates.

“Whether it’s team bonding outside of practice or swimming in the ocean during morning practices, it’s always time well spent with those girls,” she said. “I feel like we all have a close bond. I have a lot of funny and enjoyable memories with them.”

The most recent addition to the senior line-up is first-year paddler Veda Garg.

“Although I was new to paddling, everyone was incredibly motivating and always helped me when needed,” she said. “It was a wonderful experience, and I wish I had joined earlier.”

Madison Iwashita with her parents after her final race in seat one. She plans to pursue a degree in International Relations. Photo courtesy of Peyton Manning.

After finishing their last long push to Kewalo Basin and back to Magic Island on Jan. 31,  the varsity 1 seniors paddled back to the Ala Wai dock to celebrate with family and friends.

Although colleges do not currently offer canoe paddling outside of recreational groups, there are many other leagues in Hawaii. Over the summer, many of the ILH paddlers go into one of the three summer paddling leagues and move into their own team clubs.

“If I were to do anything different, I think I’d take the opportunity to paddle for club paddling so that it could benefit me as a paddler,” Omura said. “It could have helped me to be more strong or fit for my team.”

Outside of the boat, the Lancer seniors have been getting ready to embrace adulthood. Pinkerton shared that she is going to attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she will major in fashion design. She is hoping to start her own bikini line within the next few years.

Seniors Madison Iwashita, Veda Garg and Charli Omura strike a pose and raise spirits before their last race.  Photo courtesy of Peyton Manning.

While Pinkerton is staying local, Iwashita and Garg are both plan on expanding their horizons past the Pacific. Garg wants to continue her academic years in New York to study law.

Finishing off her senior year strong and with determination, Omura said, “It starts with yourself. Just like anything else, you need to put in effort to get good results.”


About the Contributor
Mahina Monsarrat-Ohelo
Mahina is a second-year Journalism student and a junior at the Academy. In this year of Journalism, she hopes to strengthen her writing skills and expand her vocabulary. In her free time she enjoys working out, paddling, and listening to music. One fun fact about Mahina is that she listened to over 156,500 minutes of music last year.
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