One thing we appreciate about the way Ronnie and Marsha teach is that they have definite views about how maneuvers and procedures, from strokes to rescues, should be performed and can explain the logic behind their convictions. And yet, if you do something differently and can explain why, they’re open to your ways.
Another thing we came to appreciate was the way Ronnie and Marsha work as a team. We could see their styles rubbing off on each other: Ronnie’s earnestness and Marsha’s playfulness; Ronnie’s attention on the training task at hand and Marsha’s insistence on noticing the dolphins and the clouds; Ronnie’s focus on the skills and Marsha’s attention to the emotions.
And yet, Ronnie can be funny, charmed by his surroundings and sensitive, and Marsha can be serious, fastidious about the fine points of a rescue, and precise in her critiques. And for both, safety and what they term “the duty of care” to students are always front and center.
This morning, we debriefed over breakfast. They critiqued each of us individually, and we had a discussion about the previous four days of training: highs, lows, what we learned, how we felt about our skills as paddlers and instructors. Their observations were stunningly accurate and inspiring, and they reinforced something we’ve come to believe about paddling in general: There is no one scale of skill on which we all fall relative to one another. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, our better and worse fits, our moments of brilliance, our blind spots and our areas in which we still need to improve.
We've been inspired by many paddlers over the years and have had an opportunity to train with a handful for a day here or there. This was our first opportunity to spend extended time with two coaches we highly respect, and we came away richer for the experience.