DSA has been around for 41 years and in that time has experienced much success at the state, national and international level. However, a club is more than just the sum of it's achievements - the people and the community that has been built will be its legacy.
Today on Australia Day, we are celebrating one of the true heroes of the club - our dear Club Captain, Declan - as he is being awarded the City of Canada Bay Council’s 2023 Sports Citizen of the Year! Declan has been with DSA for over 10 years, and in that time, has worked passionately and tirelessly behind (and in front of) the scenes to help build DSA into the club that it is today. This award is a testament to the dedication, leadership and commitment that Declan brings to the club, and the inspiration that he is for the wider community.
I personally met Declan as a new member of DSA in 2022 when he was double-hatting as the Club Captain and Finance Director. I distinctly remember how passionate he was about the sport and how key he was in fostering a strong team spirit at the club. Declan wholly embraces every aspect of the sport, and when he isn’t yelling for a lift mid-drill as a paddler, he is calling a “tree thirty” at the start of the drill as a sweep. His endless enthusiasm and encouragement to strive to be better really drives DSA’s culture as a competitive dragon boat racing club, and has helped many our members develop into the strong paddlers they are today.
Declan's recent selection as a paddler for the NSW Premier State team truly encapsulates his character. Not only did he show incredible commitment, determination and resilience for his own personal trial, but he was also the backbone of support for his fellow team mates who were anxiously trialling for the first time.
When Declan isn’t on the water, you can find him on land volunteering his time as the Director for Rhodes Parkrun and running the run club that he started in Rhodes - Rhodes Runners. Prior to meeting Declan, I wasn't a runner but after seeing first-hand the cross-training benefits (how unfatigued he is after a tough paddling session!), and with some encouragement from him to attend Parkrun, I can now confidently say that I am. His active promotion of DSA within the running community has also led to several runners joining the club and starting their paddling journey.
Declan's innate ability to inspire others to better themselves and achieve things they never thought possible is really what makes him such a great captain and role model. The Sports Citizen of the Year award is not just a recognition of athletic prowess; it's a celebration of leadership, community, passion and team spirit, and I couldn't think of anyone more deserving.