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Top 25 End-of-Year Award Ideas for Dragon Boat Paddlers: Ways to Honor Your Teammates

Posted by Kristin Stickels on
Top 25 End-of-Year Award Ideas for Dragon Boat Paddlers: Ways to Honor Your Teammates

We’ve trained all season, we’ve worked hard, we’ve won (and sometimes lost) medals. Everyone sees the work that happens on the water or in the gym. We get rewarded for that work with the medals we earn at races. But what about all the other things that help make a good team the smooth, well-oiled machine that it is?

With all the negativity and “paddletics” we might encounter throughout the year, it is important to recognize those who make a positive difference in our sport! Tweet it!

paddlechica worlds 2 ed nguyen

Photo: Ed Nguyen

For many of us in the northern hemisphere our season has come to a close or is about to. This often means parties, celebrations, and honoring teammates who have gone above and beyond in many aspects of our sport. Some awards are standard and somewhat obvious, such as MVP (Most Valuable Paddler) or Most Improved.

However, often we’d like to honor those teammates who might not be eligible for MVP, but whose presence on the team make them an exceptionally valuable teammate. These awards can be difficult to think of, so I’ve compiled a list.

  1. Most Spirited
  2. Best Attitude
  3. Best Practice Attendance Award
  4. Energizer Bunny (Most Energy)
  5. Most Heart For The Sport
  6. Coach’s Award (most coachable, shows a lot of passion)
  7. Mountain Mover (gets things DONE!)
  8. Most Versatile
  9. Commitment to Excellence
  10. Commitment to Service
  11. Behind the Scenes Award (for a teammate who does a lot of the work that no one even realizes)
  12. Teamwork Award
  13. Above & Beyond
  14. Good Sport Award
  15. Winning Spirit Award
  16. Most Fun Paddler Award
  17. Best Effort Award
  18. Leadership Award
  19. Role Model Award
  20. Best Teammate Award
  21. Communicator Award
  22. Love of the Game Award
  23. 110% Award
  24. Best Team Supporter Award
  25. Best Cheerer Award

Be creative with the titles of your awards! Make them unique to your team, if possible. One of my favorites that our team gives out is the “Broken Paddle” award given to the teammate who has “Extraordinary Positive Force” on the team. It is, quite literally, a broken wooden paddle that our teammate, Kevin, broke during a practice. Each year we add a name plate to it with the winner’s name. The recipient keeps the paddle for the year.

paddlechica broken paddle award

Another dilemma is what type of award to hand out. Should it be a plaque? A trophy? A certificate? A team photo? Or something else? For many years, my team was lucky enough to have Doug, a talented woodworker, on our team and he crafted gorgeous trophies and plaques for us. One year he made miniature replica dragon boats, another year he made beautiful paddles with a dragon on them to hang on the wall (see photo below).

Puff Award

An example of the awesome, handmade awards that my team gave out.

If, however, you aren’t lucky enough to have such crafty talent on your team, consider purchasing unique handmade gifts such as those found on or similar sites. A quick search for items such as “handmade paddle jewelry” or even just “dragon boating” can yield a variety of potential awards from jewelry to wall hangings to t-shirts to replica paddles or boats. You might possibly find something that has a more personal touch than a simple trophy.

There are also “fun” awards that can be given out. One year, a teammate and I made silly awards such as “Most Likely to Capture the Team’s Every Move on Camera,” “Most Likely to Be Able to Fix Anything With Duct Tape,” “Team Foodie” (the one who always recommended new restaurants), and “Cruise Director” (the one who always planned the team’s social events). We even made silly “medals” to go with the awards. For example the “Foodie” award got a gold spray-painted fork hung on a ribbon to wear like a medal. The camera award was literally an old-school-style film camera also spray painted gold and hung on a ribbon for wearing.

Whichever way you decide to honor your teammates, your paddlers will appreciate being acknowledged for their hard work throughout the year. With all the negativity and “paddletics” we can encounter throughout the year, it is important to recognize those who make a positive difference in our sport!



Kristin Stickels is a three-time Team USA member of the US National Dragon Boat Racing Team. She is the coach of the Miami team Puff, the Florida Tarpons women's team and the local Breast Cancer Survivors' Team (SOS).

She is also an avid outrigger canoe paddler and raced through the Panama Canal on a native cayuco boat from the Atlantic to the Pacific.


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