By Sierra Gamayon
Co-captain steersman Senior Kalena Baptista has stayed humble throughout her four years in the program and has helped the girls varsity paddling team make it into states while maintaining her schoolwork and activities in the rodeo.
“I feel like other people deserve Trojan of the Month because everyone (on the) team works very hard and I feel like other people are just as deserving, if not more (deserving) as I am,” said Baptista.
Regardless of her humble nature, as a steersman, she has an important role on the team. “I have to keep the boat straight and (be) able to read the water, so that I can paddle (toward the right di- rection and we)can go just a little bit faster,” said Baptista.
During the duration, Baptista has been a part of the team and members have accredited her for the team’s success. “I feel like our team and our crew has a great sense of teamwork, because we all support each other no matter what we do and we are always there for one another and Kalena brings so much positivity and joy to the team and everyone she meets,” said teammate Junior Chloe Canon.
Baptista has come to de- pend on her team and create a support system for them as well. “We have gotten much closer since last year, now we do a lot of team bonding like sleepovers and we have (our) own little inside jokes and things. We are really com- fortable with each other and we tell each other anything and everything and try to be there for each other,” added Baptista.
Both her team and her parents are proud of her ac- complishments. “I am very proud of her because she knows how to manage her school work and her activi- ties. She is a hard worker and when she wants something she will do her very best,” said Baptista’s mother Jana Baptista. “Not only is she an amazing paddler she is one of the most humble, caring, selfless and loving people I know,” added Canon.
The role that Kalena Baptista serves on the team not only shows during paddling, but projects throughout her daily life as well, “I feel that (Kalena Baptista) has learned to develop team building and leadership skills through paddling. I have helped her see through (the commit- ment) to her paddling and rodeo, so she does well with her activities and also has time for her family. (Kalena Baptista) is my second oldest of six; being a captain on her team suits her well,” said Jana Baptista.
Paddling has given Kalena Baptista a chance to grow. “I joined for the experience; you get to meet a lot of new people, and also knowing that each race you get better and stronger while learning life lessons, like (the fact that) nothing comes free.”
Over the past few years, Kalena Baptista and her team have moved toward success, constantly improving their technique. “We are doing better than last year. Each race we have improved by like 10 to 15 seconds and in our last race we had a 4:35 and in the most recent one we got a 4:25, so it was pretty good and we just about made it into states,” said Kalena Baptista.
Kalena Baptista will continue on with paddling throughout her senior year and will continue to paddle for fun after high school.