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A boat of his own: This dragon boat was donated to coach, organizer Jim O’Dell
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Jim O'Dell, the high performance coach for the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club, poses for a portrait on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. O'Dell has been a big part in building a prominent program at Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club since the early 2000s, and in November he was honored with a dragon boat donated in his name to LCKC. - Photo by Austin Steele, DCN Regional Staff
When Team USA won the Nations Cup at the 2018 ICF World Dragon Boat Championships back in September, local coach Jim O’Dell was ecstatic. After all, he had been a key part in organizing the event that brought in teams from 14 countries to the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue and one of the people behind training the U.S. athletes. And following the event, at a volunteer appreciation dinner, Gainesville-Hall ‘96 presented O’Dell with a dragon boat of his own. “It’s so hard to put it into words, because when you volunteer to do stuff like that, you do it without regard for accolades, without regard for ‘atta boys,’” said O’Dell, who served as the regional coach for the U.S. team. “You do it because of a passion. And to have something like that … it means so much. And now I have another tool at the club to do more training in; it’s just amazing.” Local paddlers who train with O’Dell made a world of difference at the championships earlier this year: Almost 30 members of Gainesville’s Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club qualified for Team U.S.A. during the world championships. Of those, 15 were from Gainesville.