Morinville – A Georges H. Primeau Middle School student is on her way to Lethbridge this week to compete in the Alberta Summer Games July 26 to 29. Twelve-year-old Kassandra Reaume will be competing in three components of kayaking competitions and is hoping to continue the success she has had paddling her way to the games.
The young woman has been involved in the sport for two years and has shown great proficiency in the sport. “I got into kayaking from my dad,” Miss Reaume said. “My dad started taking kayaking and he introduced it to me and my sisters. We went for a couple classes and it was actually really fun [and] challenging. You got to do some different things. We just enjoyed it, so we stayed in it.”
The kayaker said it was hard initially, working in the Kinsman Pool in Edmonton, but the more she was involved in the weekly lessons, the better she got implementing the skills she learned. Two years later and the lessons have become more focused. Miss Reaume recently returned from a national polo camp in Innisfail where she received some top level training. “There was coaches from Belgium and stuff, and you learned a lot of tips and skills from them,” she said. “You can develop a lot in a couple years.”
Through the week Reaume learned a variety of skills, practised drills, and capped it all off with some competition playoffs over the weekend, all elements the young athlete viewed as solid preparation for this weekend’s Alberta Summer Games.
Although she plays some basketball and volleyball in school, and takes dance lessons as well, kayaking has developed into a real passion for the middle school student, an activity that outshines the rest. “It’s challenging. It’s fun. I love it,” she said of the sport. “It’s fun to play against other opponents. It’s fun to learn. Our coaches are really great, and it’s fun to run rivers in the summertime.”
It is a passion shared by her father and fellow kayak enthusiast, Brent, who is pleased with how his daughter has progressed in the sport. “They’re part of a very skilled, very disciplined club,” Mr. Reaume said of the Edmonton White Water Paddlers. “Their level of progression in two years is phenomenal. The skills that they have; the control that they have over their boats; they can already read moving water. They’ve run the Lobstick. They’ve run the Pembina. They’ve done slalom training on the North Saskatchewan. It’s really impressive to watch how fast they absorb at that age.”
The young kayaker will get to demonstrate just how much she has absorbed in the past two years July 27 to 29 during the actual games. Miss Reaume said everyone who competes in kayaking has to compete in the polo event, but there is some choice in the other events they compete in. She has chosen to compete in Kayak 1 slalom and a Canoe 2 downriver event with a partner from her club. Of the mix, slalom is the most difficult for the athletes, an endeavor that requires technical precision. A missed gate earns the competitor a 50—second penalty, sufficient to cost them their chances at a medal.
But Miss Reaume is pretty confident about a successful outcome. “I think my chances are pretty good,” she said. “We have some of the best coaches. They were champions in world [competitions].
Part of the confidence comes from the skills she has amassed in the last two years. The remainder is from the support of her parents and siblings. “It builds confidence and is encouraging,” Miss Reaume said of having her family there rooting for her. “Some people get nervous when their family is watching them, but I really don’t. I just don’t have nerves like that. They’re encouraging, so I just do the best I can.”
Although focused on securing a win in this week’s Summer Games, the young athlete has her eyes also focused on her future in the sport. “When I’m an adult, obviously you leave the youth group and go more into world and champions,” she explained. “They have a U21 women’s and men’s team, which is basically the best paddlers in the province. That’s when you compete everywhere. You compete in Europe. That’s my goal for kayaking, to get there.”
Above: Kassandra Reaume poses in her Alberta Summer Games shirt prior to her departure for Lethbridge. The games take place July 26 to 29. – Stephen Dafoe Photo