Captain: Andy Lisak
Participants: Chad Beiswenger, Kathleen Beiswenger, Dan Bender, Liz Deluca, Vincent DeLuca, Sara Dorfman, Paul Gucinski, Jack Larsen, Michelle Larsen, Andy Lisak, Kate Lisak, Kjersten Lisak, Tom Lisak, Julie Newman, Adrea Olson, Mary Stariha, Steve Stariha, Stuart Stariha, Chloe Swanson, Tess Swanson and Jim Swanson, all of Superior; and Carlos Conway, Priscilla Conway, Andrew Parise and Raquel Parise, all of Minneapolis.
How did you get your team name? Does it have special meaning? The team is named for the Stariha family from Superior’s North End. The inaugural Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival coincided with our family reunion. We felt that “Team Stariha” had a nice ring to it.
How many years have you participated in the festival? Team Stariha has competed in all 11 Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festivals. We race in the competitive division. Last year we had the 10th-fastest time in the qualifying heats.
How does your team prepare for the event? We practice twice the week before the festival. Being a family, we know each other pretty well and are able to give and accept coaching during the practices.
Does your team paddle in honor of memory of someone? If so, tell us about him or her. For the past several years, we have paddled to honor the memory of relatives who have passed away. This year we will be paddling in memory of Mary Dekrell and Walter Howell of Denver, and Gert Berg, of Sacramento, Calif., who passed away last year. Both Mary and Gert died of cancer. Gert’s husband, Martin, paddled on our 2008 team. Gert was one of 17 children born to George and Agnes Stariha.
Do you have a funny Dragon Boat Festival story? Every year is a funny story for Team Stariha. Just getting our team members to the starting line on time is an event in itself. One year, a team member from Boston who is known for his tardiness had to be summoned from the hot tub of the Barker’s Island Inn 15 minutes before race time. Apparently, he had spent too much time celebrating with the Canadian teams the night before the race. I think he had spent all of his energy by the time he got in the boat.
What keeps your team coming back to participate in the festival? The festival is a great event. It is an excellent opportunity for us to get together as a family and compete. We have proven year after year that a team does not have to be made up of the youngest or strongest members to do well. For the past several years, we have used the Dragon Boat Festival as a family reunion. We set up a tent on Barker’s Island and welcome relatives from around the country to join us in the fun. We have one of the best cheering sections on the Island.
What does the festival mean to your team/business and/or the role you play in the community? The festival is the premier event for the community. Our family appreciates the hard work the Rotary Clubs of Superior and Duluth have put into the event. The event is all about community and Team Stariha is proud to be a member of this community.
Do you have a team ritual? Each year, our team chaplain, Jerry Besvold, provides words of inspiration to the team before each race.
Sponsor: Duluth Plumbing Supplies
Captain: Pat Phillips
Participants: John and Robin Amundsen, Judy and Marvin Haugen, Ed Moroney, Kathy Collins, Mike Raic, Norbert and Viveca Norman, Pat and Gloria Phillips, Paul and Sue Bachinski, Julie and Andy Ernst, Laura and Mike Petit, Rick and Marcia Ness, Jim and Mardy Rodman, Clint Endicott, Rebecca Amundsen and Keegan McNally, all of Duluth.
How did you get your team name? Does it have special meaning? We chose our name to make sure all members knew this would be a no-pressure event. Our only goals were to have a good time, do as well as we could and enjoy the chance for friends to share in some fun while supporting a great cause.
How many years have you participated in the festival? This will be our second year. When we decided to form a team, there was “No Expectation” that we would participate more than once. However, we really enjoyed the entire event and are ready to grab our paddles for another year!
How does your team prepare for the event? We meet for dinner and talk about how much better we will perform!
Does your team paddle in honor of memory of someone? If so, tell us about him or her. We have not designated one single person to paddle in honor of. Each of us has been touched by cancer, either personally, or through a parent, sibling, relative or friend. We will do our best to remember them all, to raise money to promote change and to think about how much this race has done to work for increased cancer survivorship.
Do you have a funny Dragon Boat Festival story? Last year we were told that we were the only team to have a float in Friday night’s parade. We proudly supported our sponsor, Duluth Plumbing Supplies, through our toilet float accompanied by plungers and toilet paper in hand!
What keeps your team coming back to participate in the festival? We are returning this year because we thoroughly enjoyed the chance for friends to be together to support a very worthwhile cause, the competition of putting in an acceptable race time and the overall good that comes from this event.
What does the festival mean to your team/business and/or the role you play in the community? It gives Duluth Plumbing Supplies and the team participants an opportunity to interact with other businesses and people in the Duluth/Superior community to participate in a fund-raising activity for a wonderful cause.
Do you have a team ritual? I’m sorry to say but it’s probably “Eat, drink and be merry!”
Women of the Woods
Captain: Julie Le Blanc of Ashland
Participants: Jan Stipetich (drummer), Kari Williams, Joy Wooley, Stephanie Julin, Heidi Hagen, Greta Blancarte and Tammie Jonas, all of Ashland; Bonnie Oswskey, Amanda Trautt, and Misty Radig, all of Poplar; Breanna Tickinnen and Megan Kern, both of Superior; Beth Bichanich and Barb Robertson, both of Mason; and Cheryl Hansen, Tanya Barton, Linda Barnes and Kim Armington, all of Washburn.
How did you get your team name? Does it have special meaning? Bonnie (Woodhull) Oswskey and her girlfriends started the team and during a card game came up with the initials “WOW.” Women of the Woods is what came from that. Bonnie is the last original team member who has been paddling since the second year of the festival and hasn’t missed a year yet!
How many years have you participated in the festival? Our team has been in the festival all but the first year!
How does your team prepare for the event? Every year the captain schedules four practices for our team. As captain, I don’t think there is anything more fun, exciting and reasonably priced that you can do with your friends than paddle a dragon boat!
Does your team paddle in honor of memory of someone? If so, tell us about him or her. I believe everyone in the boat has someone near to them that has been affected by cancer. We paddle for all cancer patients and their loved ones.
Do you have a funny Dragon Boat Festival story? Our best story to date is the race during which our Princess Breanna was attacked by a dragon out of control. We have all since practiced Dragon Defense Training, and this year we are ready for anything!
What keeps your team coming back to participate in the festival? It’s the most fun thing you can do with 21 friends and still be legal!
Do you have a team ritual? We go out for dinner and conversation after each practice. We have a bake sale every year at Memorial Medical Center in Ashland. We personally pay for extra practices and sponsor our own team to ensure our paddlers are motivated and have a positive attitude, and as always have fun!
Comments: We won “The Best of the Worst” award the second year and we were in the women’s final a couple of years ago. We are still striving for a third race this year in one of the final categories, but if we don’t get it we’ll be back anyway!
Zealous Maniac Cruisers
Sponsor: ZMC Hotels
Captains: JoAnn Mattson and Danielle Lundberg
Participants: Employees from Edgewater Hotel & Waterpark, the Inn on Lake Superior, Days Inn Duluth Lakewalk, Best Western Downtown Duluth and Best Western Bridgeview
How did you get your team name? Does it have special meaning? As ZMC is our sponsor we kept those initials for our team. We are Zealous. We are Maniacs. And one day out of the year we are Cruisers.
How many years have you participated in the festival? This is our third fun-filled year!
How does your team prepare for the event? In previous years we just practiced then paddled. This year be upped the ante and did some major fundraising. We held bake sales, played bingo, held Christmas in July and challenged our local hotels to raise money. The hotels are keeping their numbers a secret until the race, but the ZMC Hotels corporate office raised more than $1,000.
What keeps your team coming back to participate in the festival? It’s for an awesome cause. It’s a way for the five hotels and corporate office to work side by side and enjoy a great day. It’s just darn fun.
Do you have a team ritual? In 2011, paddler Bjorn Larsen led the Zealous Maniac Cruisers in a rousing cheer before each heat. Our picture was even featured on the 2012 web page. Many of our teammates sport tattoos to show their dedication to the team.
Captains: Margaret Cleveland and Kathryn Plewa
Participants: Mary Austin, Sandra Caywood, Laura Fahrner, Deb Hoff, Rachael Inselman, Marlent Johnson, Charlotte Knutson, Lindsay Kwon, Nancy Lowney, Ruth Wittmers, Colleen Kelly (steersperson) and Margaret Cleveland (drummer), all of Duluth; Carol Nelson, Connie Olson Stanley, both of Proctor; Kathryn Plewa of Cloquet; Terry Berg of Two Harbors; Peggy Gall, Bonnie McDonald and Colleen Shaul, all of Superior; Lorraine Washa of Foxboro; and Dorothy Lundberg of Lake Nebagamon.
How did you get your team name? Does it have special meaning? All team members are breast cancer survivors, sisters in the experience; the name as a natural outcome of a short brainstorm session.
How many years have you participated in the festival? This is year number 12 for us. We’ve been paddling in the festival since its inception and as long as we can paddle, we will likely participate.
How does your team prepare for the event? A couple of social events to plan, establish the roster and talk about fundraising. We will practice once this year.
Does your team paddle in honor of memory of someone? If so, tell us about him or her. We paddle to honor all who have experienced breast cancer, whether or not they are team members. Some years we have dedicated our racing to one of our own whose survivorship ended — we have said farewell to six wonderful women.
Do you have a Dragon Boat Festival experience? Experiencing the pride for the efforts of our team in fundraising! We have been among the top five fundraisers for the history of the festival. After five years of being top fundraiser we finally had to yield to Jack’s and Keyport as they got competitive and serious about this aspect of teamwork. One year, Sistership was invited by Jack’s to celebrate with them after the festival.
What keeps your team coming back to participate in the festival? After 12 years it must be tradition!
What does the festival mean to your team/business and/or the role you play in the community? We are visible evidence of the reality of surviving breast cancer. Along with all the other cancer survivor teams, we demonstrate that there is good life after cancer, and we value the role of support each of us has been able to give and receive.
Do you have a team ritual? Not exactly a team ritual, but we do organize the rose petal ceremony after the afternoon race. The rose petals we drop in the water are a reminder to race viewers that there is a very serious reason behind our participation — to honor those who have gone on before us.
Team cheer: Sistership! Sistership! Dragons in the water. Paddles set to go. Sisters come determined. Survivors, dontcha know! Yea!