To all the superwomen out there, keep moving forward
I had the pleasure of meeting Stevie Bodden with Team 404 this past fall at the Pacific Paddle Games (PPG). In between warming up, getting ready to race, racing, and recovery we chatted briefly about the paddling scene in Panama, where Stevie is from. With busy schedules, work, training, family, etc. we finally had time to reconnect last week as Stevie was getting ready to head out to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina for the eighth annual Carolina Cup. It is a week-long event where paddlers from all over the world can have fun, learn, and race.
Quality of life
Life goes into disarray when Stevie Bodden does not have the balance of paddling. She is a busy woman, skillfully juggling work, kids, and training. She took one month off after PPG, but other than that she paddles and races all year-long due to Panama’s tropical climate. Bodden owns and runs her own athletic training/sports medicine clinic. I called her, “Superwoman,” and she said all women are super women in their own right. She likes to push herself, loves challenge, and loves to compete. She has been competing since she was four years old in gymnastics and she has been paddling since she was 14.
It started with cayuco, a form of paddling used by the indigenous people of Panama. The vessel is carved from a tree trunk. Panama’s big cayuco race is the Ocean to Ocean a 43 mile event over the course of three days. This is where Bodden’s love for paddling began. Now paddling is part of her every day routine. Panama provides several paddling options; the ocean, lakes, and rivers. The only way Bodden feels completeness in her life is when she is paddling, racing, and competing. She makes is a point to teach her children Andros and Olivia, that it is not about winning, but it is about competing.
You’ve got to put yourself out there
Stevie Bodden makes a conscious effort to set an example for her kids. They see her paddling, training hard, pushing, and challenging herself. She admitted that it is difficult to work, take care of her family, and go to compete in North Carolina. “Honestly,” she said, “I would rather paddle 50 miles than go grocery shopping.” Paddling allows her to disconnect from life for a while. After training or racing she is charged. Ultimately it is the rush of being with the best in the world and putting herself out there.
The more Bodden talked, the more passionate and fired up she got: “Whatever you do in life, do your best no matter what. Have pride in what you do. Put your soul into it. Even if you fail, you succeed.” She loves water and has been on it ever since she was born. Panama is a small country. It is very machismo, male dominant culture. Who she is and what she stands for as a female athlete goes against the norm, as does owning and running her private clinic. Bodden knows she must do this. It is not bad to do something different. It opens doors for women in Panama and all over the world to realize that there are other options.
Never give up
Paddling inspires people because someone was there before them, breaking down walls and leaving a trail. Many people are afraid to fail. They do not try because they are afraid of failing. Everybody fails. Just get back up and keep going. Keep learning and you will be able to get up faster. The same is true with your paddle stroke. It starts slow and with practice it will get faster. Stevie Bodden loves when this happens. It is rewarding when she can feel her hard work paying off as she gets faster. These are precious moments she saves in her vault of inner peace; moments of determination, progress, accomplishment, and gratitude.
Never giving up is a way of life for Bodden. “You cannot stop and say I do not want to raise my kids. Take a break, get your act together, and keep going,” she said. Her coach drove it into her mind to never quit. Finish what you started. Do it for the love of the sport and the love of the game. Bodden also quoted Martin Luther King Jr, “If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run then walk. If you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
Never give up people. Go after your dreams. Even if you fail you win. Thank you again for your time and for sharing Stevie Bodden. Wishing you the best for your season.