The team of faculty, staff and students representing Troy University in Saturday’s Montgomery Dragon Boat Festival brought home a gold medal, but the rewards of participating in the ninth annual event proved to be even greater.
TROY’s Confucius Institute once again sponsored the University’s team and served as a gold sponsor for the event. And while the event is competitive, Amy Waters, director of community outreach at the Montgomery Campus and one of the captains of the team, said it is fun for those who participate and provides an outstanding platform for “Alabama’s International University.”
“This is a really neat way for the Confucius Institute to be involved in the community, sharing in something that is a part of the Chinese culture,” Waters said. “It is a great opportunity for TROY to share its international presence with the Montgomery area.”
Saturday marked a first for RaeAnn Dobler. The sophomore said she didn’t know much about dragon boat racing before seeing the email seeking participants.
“I gained some friendships through taking part,” she said. “I also was able to spend time learning about the sport and what it means within the culture. It was fun being a part of this festival.”
Dr. Erich Grommet, a professor in the Department of Psychology, who also was a member of TROY’s team last year, said it was the interaction that drives him to participate each year.
“I participate in the Dragon Boat Race for the camaraderie,” he said. “I get to spend quality time with students, staff, faculty and administrators with whom I may otherwise only have brief, task-oriented interactions.”
Dr. Grommet is glad the University has taken a role in the annual community event.
“It’s wonderful that Troy University is a race sponsor,” he said. “The event makes Riverfront Park feel very lively, which hopefully motivates the community to continue to support improving downtown Montgomery and preserving public access to the river.”
More than 30 teams competed in this year’s event, representing the military, the city’s first responders, local businesses, organizations and universities. The Festival benefits two Montgomery nonprofits – Bridge Builders Alabama and Rebuilding Together Central Alabama.
TROY’s team took part in three races, winning their race to bring home the gold. And while team members proudly posed for pictures with their medals at the end of the day, the event was about more than just competition.
“It certainly is competitive, but most importantly, it is a lot of fun for all of those involved,” Waters said.