The North Bay Canoe Club (NBCC) is hoping the summer of 2022 turns into a memorable one for its athletes.
Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, Head Coach Mihail Oghina says the club is ready to kick things into high gear with a number of events coming up this summer.
“We have a full racing schedule this season and we’re looking forward to competing again,” he says after last year's season saw some interruptions due to the pandemic.
On June 18th the club will host Springapalloza, which is one of two Ontario Summer Games qualifying regattas.
“There will be qualifiers in the morning and in the afternoon, it is an inter-club training event and we are expecting a big number of athletes competing with hopefully some of the local athletes qualifying for those spots in the summer games,” says Oghina.
The top 12 athletes from the East-Ontario division will qualify and go on to compete at the Ontario Summer Games which takes place this year in Toronto in August.
“Athletes that don’t qualify will get to focus on specific areas of training during those afternoon sessions. It’s a great way to learn from coaches across the province as well as show off their skills and how they compare to those other athletes,” says Oghina.
Oghina is hoping to be able to show off to the community what his athletes have learned over the last few years.
“This is a great event for the North Bay community to see how much this club means to our area and see how hard these athletes are working to train and produce positive results and they are very excited to host this event,” he says.
“Everyone is welcome to come and watch and support the club and the sport in general. There aren’t too many events of this calibre for our sport in North Bay and this is a fun, family-friendly event and we hope the community comes out to Olmstead Beach to support us.”
Oghina has been the head coach of the club since November of 2020. Hailing from the Republic of Moldova, Oghina brought with him a wealth of experience to the gig and is continuing to be recognized for his coaching excellence, including a recent invite to the Canoe Kayak Ontario, Spring Training Camp in Palm Coast, Florida – along with two athletes; Oscar Graves and Avery Durocher.
“My athletes had a really great time at the camp and I was happy to be there too. Even though I was working with other groups of athletes, I got to see Oscar and Avery competing and training every day,” he says.
“It was well organized; it featured the best athletes across the province and it was an amazing experience for all of us. There were 2-3 practices per day with weight training and running training mixed in as well.”
Oghina says there was a high level of competition from the athletes.
“There were athletes of all different levels competing there from the U16 age group up to the U21 category. There was also some U23 National Team level, in fact, some of the athletes were former Canadian Champions, and some of them had participated in the Junior World Championship before,” he says.
“It is always a pleasure to be invited to these events, it’s also a good opportunity to show your knowledge and to learn something from some of the best athletes in the sport. It is also an honour to be a part of it because there are so many good coaches there.”
Coming off that training, both Graves and Durocher are the only local athletes old enough to compete at the Ontario Team Trials, which took place in Welland, Ontario this past weekend.
Prior to the event, Oghina said, “Oscar and Avery are looking to do their best in the first racing event this year and they are very excited.”
Durocher’s best performance came on Sunday finishing second in the Open Women’s K1 500m final. She was also 5th in the Open Women’s K1 200m final. Graves placed 8th in the Open Men’s K1 1000m final on Sunday.
Overall, Oghina says one of his big goals since taking over the club is coming to fruition.
“We’re seeing positive growth with the club overall. We have a big team locally, but we are also a very young team, and I’m encouraged by how many of them are training with me year-round, there’s about 20 of them that work out throughout the year,” he says.
“There’s also been a lot of improvement within that group since I took over the club. When the athletes are training more consistently, they are going to see better results overall. We’ve been able to get out on the water for a little while now this year and the results are already showing, they look good out there. They are gaining strength and skill and they will see those results as they progress.”
Oghina says the club has had a lot of support from volunteers and parents which he is very appreciative of.
“The event (Springapalloza) and the running of the club itself, would not be possible without all the volunteers and the members,” he says.
“They are putting in a lot of work to make sure that this event will be successful. A lot of parents are helping out and our Commodore is doing a great job and they deserve that recognition.”