The Parry family at Welland International Flatwater Centre. From left: Niki, Mason, Kaleb, Rogan and Ryan. (Courtesy/Sarah Lewis)

The Parry family at Welland International Flatwater Centre. From left: Niki, Mason, Kaleb, Rogan and Ryan. (Courtesy/Sarah Lewis)

From paddling to volunteering, Yukon family attends Canada Summer Games

Three Parry brothers represent Team Yukon at Niagara 2022 with mom and dad along for ride as staff

All five members of the Parry family – Niki, Ryan, Rogan, Kaleb and Mason – participated in the 2022 Canada Summer Games in Niagara, Ont., which concluded Aug. 21.

The family put in 12-hour racing days at the Welland International Flatwater Centre from Aug. 16 to 19 with mother, Niki Parry, serving as mission for the canoe kayak team and father, Ryan Parry, as technical support staff.

Team Yukon had a total of seven athletes on the canoe kayak team, including the three Parry boys.

They arrived in Niagara on Aug. 15, the day before their first races. Rogan Parry and Bruce Porter came straight from training in Winnipeg. Two other athletes came from Montreal and three from Whitehorse to form the Yukon’s canoe kayak team.

Last Monday was the first time the men’s K-4 got in the same boat to practise, according to the team’s mission.

“Everyone did incredibly well,” she said.

“They faced tough competition in hot conditions against the top paddlers in the country. They pushed themselves harder than ever and I know they are all looking forward to more opportunities like this in the future.”

Niki Parry explained every race began with two heats and then progressed to an ‘A’ and ‘B’ final.

Her oldest son, Rogan Parry, 17, competed in six events as a kayaker, racing 12 times over four days. Kaleb Parry, 15, competed in eight events as a canoer, racing 15 times. Mason Parry, 13, raced six times in three canoeing events.

Rogan Parry preparing for K-1 race at Canada Summer Games. (Courtesy/Sarah Lewis)

Rogan Parry preparing for K-1 race at Canada Summer Games. (Courtesy/Sarah Lewis)

The three brothers train at Flatwater North, Whitehorse’s home for canoe and kayak sprint paddling. Their mother was a part of the club’s development from the very beginning.

She said her boys’ love for the sport erupted from attending Canoe Kids summer camp six years ago, after which they progressed through the Regatta Ready program and onto competitive racing.

“The one thing that raised my eyebrows,” their father said, “was rain or shine, they always wanted to be there.”

Every time he picked them up from a day on the water, he couldn’t help but notice how happy, exhausted and motivated his kids were. Their paddling passion kept on growing until it became a “real significant focus” for his family.

What stood out most for him at the Canada Summer Games was how mature, supportive and welcoming the hundreds of athletes from all the provinces and territories were. He called the experience “refreshing.”

“I’d be proud of my boys no matter what, but the nicest part about being there with them was being able to witness their maturity and perspective. They really embraced the true spirit of the Games and it brought me a lot of pride,” he said.

Rogan Parry said these Games helped him realize how important the mental aspect is when it comes to performing his best. The supportive nature of the competition helped him find his breath and stride.

“There was a lot of cheering and comradery. Everyone was cheering for every team to cross the finish line as fast as they could, no matter where they were from.”

Mason and Kaleb Parry in C-2 race at Niagara 2022. (Courtesy/Steve Parr)

Mason and Kaleb Parry in C-2 race at Niagara 2022. (Courtesy/Steve Parr)

Rogan said these were the first Games he had the chance to beat a few teams. Many of his competitors were much bigger and older than him, but he felt himself “bridging the gap.”

He is most proud of his K-2 races with Porter.

“We felt really locked in, really powerful and really in sync,” he said, acknowledging their time together in Winnipeg and at training camp in Portugal really paid off.

“We almost felt like one person, bordering between being two people on the boat and being the boat.”

For Kaleb Parry, having his whole family there meant there was always someone to cheer him on. He loved being around other athletes from all over Canada and learning why they love the sport.

Kaleb learnt many valuable lessons at these Games including not to judge himself against other people. He said he focused on racing against himself and ended up shattering his C-1 1000-metre personal record by more than 30 seconds.

He also had the opportunity to race with his younger brother in the C-2 events.

“It was a little frustrating at times,” he said, “but when we did have a good race, it felt awesome.”

Mason Parry feels like he improved a lot and “came so far” since the start of the Games. He had a lot of fun racing with his older brother, especially in their last race when they had their strongest start and never lost balance or had to stop paddling.

“There were lots of ups and downs, but it felt really good when we did well,” he said.

Mason was primarily a kayaker before these Games, but when Team Yukon held tryouts to fill C-2 spots, he came out on top. He trained for six weeks as a canoer before Niagara 2022.

Being the youngest in the family, Mason started racing competitively earlier than his brothers and said he got used to being “the best in kayaking” for his age.

This racing season he learned how important it is to “keep going” and not always count on winning.

“Even if you’re used to being better than everyone your age, doesn’t mean you’re always going to be the best,” he said.

“There’s always going to be someone else training harder and getting ready to beat you so you can never ease up.”

The Parry family flew back to Whitehorse on Aug. 22 just in time for the boys to begin a new school year. They plan to continue building strength over the winter months through dryland and cross-training.

For more information on canoe and kayak programs for kids in Whitehorse, visit flatwaternorth.ca

Contact Magan Carty at magan.carty@yukon-news.com