IRVING, Texas- Sixty students from ILTexas Dallas-Fort Worth, College Station, and Houston area schools competed at the 2022 Dragon Boat Festival in Irving, Texas on Sunday, October 2. The event took place at Lake Carolyn in Las Colinas, and was sponsored by the Marco Polo World Foundation. 

The festival is part of a Chinese tradition that dates back over 2,000 years. Celebrated annually in China, dragon boat racing was recognized as a sport in the mid-1970s in Hong Kong, with teams forming across the globe in the decades since. 

The  Dallas-Fort Worth Dragon Boat competition was the first time ILTexas competed in the festival. The students were grouped into three teams, each representing their region. ILTexas Lancaster-Desoto and Garland High Schools represented the Dallas team, while ILTexas Keller-Saginaw and Arlington-Grand Prairie High Schools represented Tarrant. ILTexas Aggieland, Windmill Lakes-Orem, and Katy-Westpark High School were grouped together as the Houston team.  

Registration began at 7am with the official races starting around 8:30 in the morning. The Houston team won 1st place in the youth category. 

Each team competed in two rounds, with the Houston team later advancing to the finals where they went on to take 1st place, beating out three adult dragon boat teams.

“After all the practices we’ve had, all the work we’ve been putting in . . . we came up and we made something happen,” said Gabriel Arrant, a senior at ILTexas Katy-Westpark High School. “We could not [win] without each other being here.”

For Lindsey Smith, a student at ILTexas Aggieland High School, the 1st place win was a surprise. 

“[The race] was a lot easier than expected,” she said.  “We finally meshed together, we finally got in synch, we finally worked as a team and that’s why we won.”

Victor Cathey, Executive Director of Athletics at ILTexas, looks forward to more ILTexas students competing in future dragon boat races.

“The students that are here now that [competed are] going to get a chance to walk around campus, not only brand new with dragon boat paraphernalia, which is some of the uniforms they're going to be wearing, but they're also going to be a part of the pilot program that took this off,” he said. 

“So when these kids are graduating one day, [and] their friends or their sisters or brothers are walking through ILTexas, these individuals will set the blueprint for what dragon boat racing looks like.”

*Video courtesy of ILTexas Global

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