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Ally Doederlein's - My Passion for Canoe Racing

Boardman Boatworks hosted an essay contest at the end of 2019 to get the youth of our sport to put on to paper why they love our sport. A brand new ZRE paddle was up for grabs for 1st place and an even better Canoeraceworld hat was up for 2nd place. We really enjoyed reading these essays and will be presenting a few of them here over the next couple of weeks.


Ally Doederlein

My Passion for Canoe Racing

Ally Doederlein in the bow with Katie Mahaffy in the stern

To begin, canoeing means a lot to me. I was first introduced to the canoe racing world seven years ago, when I was only nine years old. I have been hooked ever since. The Michigan Canoe Racing Association is growing, and I love meeting everybody because they are kind and supportive towards every paddler. My other favorite part of the sport is keeping statistics on the marathon every year.

My passion began when I was on an overnight kayaking trip on the AuSable River. We saw some canoe racers training, and that was the first time I had ever seen anything like that. The paddler was Holly Reynolds, and she happened to stop at McMaster’s landing where we were having lunch. Holly explained to us what she was doing and she let me and my sister sit in her canoe to see what it was like. About a week later, with the annual AuSable River Canoe Marathon approaching, my family had shown an interest in wanting to see it, or at least the incredible start of the race. My family drove over to Grayling the night of the marathon, and we got our spots on the hill to view the start. We then walked down to all the boats lined up, and it was fascinating to see all the racers getting ready to go. Seeing all of the equipment and feeders involved was amazing. The start of the race was approaching, so we walked back down to our spots, and before we knew it the race had begun. Paddlers were sprinting down the road with their boats and diving into the water. After that, we packed up and drove home. Although it was cool, we did not plan on coming back for the finish. The next morning, I went upstairs and woke my dad up to ask if we could drive over and see the finish. Of course he said yes, and I was excited to see the racers after they had paddled 15 hours overnight. My dad bought my sister and I each a shirt, and from that moment on my t-shirt collection began to grow. I was hooked on canoe racing.

Ally Doederlein

Every year after that we were drawn back to the marathon and I began to follow people in the race, including Rebecca Davis and Hailey Halstead, because they were two top female paddlers. Since watching my first race, I have kept statistics of the race, including: teams, their number, and their position and time at certain landings and dams. I have even been mistaken as an official timer.

My dad became involved in the canoe racing circuit, so I started becoming more involved too. After years of spectating, my first race was in the summer of 2017 when I raced the Spike’s Junior race with my friend, Katie Mahaffy. We took first in the race and were already excited for next year’s race. In August of 2017, I did my first mentor race with my favorite paddler, Rebecca Davis. It became a tradition, and the next two years I raced with her in the Mio mentor race. It is so special to me to have this opportunity. Each year we get faster and all the spectators are always fascinated by our speed.

In the summer of 2018, I raced in the Michigan Canoe Racing Association Circuit with my dad. We paddled seven out of the ten weekend races. At the end of the year, we won the Expert II points award. Without the help and support from my mentors, I would not have come this far. Lynne Witte and Cheryl Lucey are two people that have helped me become more involved in the sport. Cheryl helped me prepare for my Expert II racing season by letting me come to her house and paddle with me, and Lynne would be there too. Both have helped me train and they have given me lots of pointers and tips.

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