The Schuylkill Dragons, founded in 2001, is the oldest continuously active women’s dragon boating team in Philadelphia. The team includes paddlers of all levels ranging from beginners to those experienced in international competitions. The Schuylkill Dragons is a 501(c)(3) corporation, eligible for tax-deductible contributions and donations.
This team of women, ranging in age from 24 to 73, continues to shatter society’s preconceived notion of aging and to create great role models for women of all ages. The team provides challenging, well-organized, coached work-outs. Some members focus on local, regional, national or international competitions while other are involved to keep fit.
The team employs coaches who work with all levels of paddlers,teaching the basic skills to beginners and refining the skills of experienced paddlers; preparing the team to be competitive at local, national and internationalevents in premier (ages 18 and over), masters (40 and over) and grand masters (50 and over) divisions.
Our experienced coaches help us become stronger athletes during both the on-water and off-water seasons. The requirement for each team member is a commitment to challenge oneself to work hard as a part of a recreational and competitive team.
Meet the SD Coaching Staff!
Joann Fegley, Head Coach and Team USA Senior A Women's Coach
I love paddling, but my passion is coaching. I get as big of a rush from seeing those "aha moments" from the crews I'm coaching as I do from crossing the finish line in my own race. I'm a "work hard, play hard" kind of person, so my expectation is that when we are in the boat we are focused and working hard; I put forth my best, and I want my crew to do the same so that we all have confidence in each other. But it's important to enjoy the sport too, so the camaraderie off the water is also a great time.
Coach Joann Fegley continues to build on our tradition of excellece! Fegley is now sharing her expertise as part of the Team USA coaching staff. In addition to her local coaching duties, in July 2013 she served as coach of the Team USA Senior A (40+ up) Women’s Crew at the 11th World Nations Championships in Szeged, Hungary.
“Coaching at Worlds level is a great honor,” Fegley says of her new role. “Having competed as a paddler at that level, I know that it is an exciting, stressful, challenging, and awesome experience-- the culmination of hard work, training, and life put on hold to focus on a goal as a team to make it to the podium.”
Julie Read, Trainer
I joined the Schuylkill Dragons mid 2014 season and haven't looked back. My history in athletics doesn't include paddling, but does include lots of movement ranging from gymnastics to hammer throwing to CrossFitting. These experiences have instilled in me a great respect for efficient and safe movement and my coaching style reflects that. Most of the time, the team "sees" me in the form of weekly workouts I provide through the internet.
My focus is on keeping the team as injury free as possible while introducing mobility and stability drills before getting into the fun stuff - lifting heavy things! Working in the weight room translates directly to the team's ability to generate power in the boat. One of my goals as a coach is to guide them in the weight room so they feel comfortable and safe building their strength off the water and can apply that added power in the boat.
Dragon boat racing is one of the earliest known forms of boat racing and is celebrated at festivals and races throughout the world. This mythical celebration is a symbol of Chinese culture and spirit and is one of the three largest festivals in China. The roots of dragon boat racing go back over 2,000 years to the southern provinces of China. Legend has it that Qu Yuan, a scholar and advisor to the emperor of the Chu Kingdom, jumped into the Mei Lo (Mi Luo) River in despair and protest against government corruption. Local fishermen raced out in their boats to save him. They beat drums and pounded their paddles on the river's waters and threw rice dumplings wrapped in silk into the river to distract the water dragons and keep them from eating from Qu Yuan's body. Dragon boating evolved from the re-enactment of this legend at annual festivals.
Celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month of the Chinese Calendar, dragon boat racing is not only one of the most important Chinese traditions second to Chinese New Year, but now is an annual event held in over 40 countries.
Boats and Races
A dragon boat is a large, canoe-like craft made from wood and fiberglass that is colorfully painted and decorated with a dragon's head on the front and a tail on the back. Size varies, but boats hold between 16 and 24 paddlers with an average of 20 paddlers. Paddlers are seated two per row and paddle continously on the same side for the duration of the race. A drummer and steersperson accompany the paddlers to motivate the crew and keep the boat on track. The average race course is 500 meters and can include between 4 and 10 boats.
It is easy to see why dragon boat racing is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. It is truly an impressive sight to see an elaborately adorned dragon boat surging towards the finish line with its engine of 20 paddlers pulling hard with every stroke in perfect unison to the drummer's beat and the calls of the steersperson. Combine the competition and excitement of the races with the fun and atmosphere of the cultural festivities that typically occur at a dragon boat festival, and you have a great event for participants and spectators of all ages.
Make a tax deductable donation to support the Schuylkill Dragons! Private donations in any denomination are welcome. Thank you for your support.
2016 Kayak Raffle!
Click Here to learn more about our Kayak raffle and how to purchase tickets to enter!
Our own Lena drums at Worlds!
Click Here to read her incredible journey and learn more about her.
SDs are a great organization filled with strong and inspiring individuals!
Interested in joining us for a newbie event? Please email us for details!
SD Grand Masters competed in the 9th Club Crew World Championships in Ravenna, Italy, Sept 2014. Click here to learn more. Please use this secure PayPal button to make a donation.
Coach Joann Fegley
Named to Team USA Coaching Staff
Thank you so much for supporting the Schuylkill Dragons!
Private donations in any denomination are welcome. You can make a tax deductable donation anytime! Click here to support the Schuylkill Dragons! Thank you for your support.
SD Boat Rentals
Our boats are available for team practice/team building and special occasion rentals on an hourly basis.
If you are
interested please contact us via email!
Read more about our races…
Our team is a place for strong women from every walk of life. We welcome diva-warriors of any experience level—novice to world class athletes. Aged 20-something to 70-something, we support each other on and off the water. We have fun; we work hard and we truly have some amazing times together!
If you are interested, please contact our membership committee.