HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-At-Home Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
A former paddler with the Rideau Canoe Club. A past head coach. And now an administrator. Kenna Robins just can’t get enough of flatwater canoe-kayak. It has been a big part of her life since she was two years old.
And nothing has changed, even as an adult. She’s surrounded by the sport and its elements. Her husband Marc Creamer is the paracanoe national coach and manager, and her two children, Sarah and Lucas, started the sport last summer.
If you search around her house, which is located a stone’s throw away from the Pointe-Claire Canoe and Kayak Club, you’ll find seven or eight boats or other forms of watercraft. Robins also is events lead for the CKC Alumni Council.
So it wasn’t a big surprise when Robins decided to apply for the job of senior manager of national program development at Canoe Kayak Canada, which is situated in the House of Sport inside the R.A. Centre.
Shortly after a Zoom interview, Robins was offered the job and she accepted the chance to return to Canoe Kayak Canada, where she was women’s U23 and U18 coach from 2006-14, attending seven world championships and the 2008 Olympics.
“I’m really excited for sure,” said Robins, who has spent the past six years with the Canadian Olympic Committee in the business integration and team services departments and served as manager in both areas.
“There was still a lot of thinking involved to make sure it was the right move for the family. Canoe-kayak is very near and dear to my heart. I’m excited to get back.”
Robins starts her new job April 6.
By returning to Canoe Kayak Canada, she’ll work for the same national sports body as her husband, but in a different area. Robins, who previously coached elite athletes, will now work at the grassroots level of the sport.
“It will allow me to get back to the development of coaches, athletes and clubs. This has been a passion of mine,” said Robins, who spent almost 30 years at Rideau as a tag-along sibling, paddler and head coach (1999-2003).
Robins will work to strengthen partnerships with clubs, divisions and provincial/territorial organizations across Canada and manage the Safe Sport and Canada Games programs as well as help with staging the 2022 worlds in Dartmouth, N.S.
When she settles into her new job next month, Robins will be in her element and not far from the Rideau Canoe Club, where her parents introduced her to the sport, when they took her brothers there for training and competitions.
“My parents got my brothers into the canoe club at 10. I was 2 or 3 and just hanging around the club. But through my brothers, I wanted to start. I started at 10, but mom made sure I got certain swimming badges first,” added Robins.
“Nothing beats being on the water. My canoe club experience at Rideau was like a family. Your best friends come out of it. They learn everything about you.”
Robins excelled as an age-group kayaker at the national championships. She won three gold, two silver and nine bronze medals in K1, K2 and K4 boats at nationals. Robins was the 1992 and 1993 women’s junior K1, 500-metre and 1989 juvenile K4 500-metre Canadian champion. Her teammates in the K4 boat were Lucy Slade, Katie Greer and Laura Hodgson.
Robins’ success on the water also advanced her to the 1989 Canada Summer Games and the 1991 world junior championships.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for over 47 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.