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Bursary honours deceased dragon boater

Fraser Valley Dragon Boat Club created a new memorial bursary to honour deceased paddler Lois Boschman who embodied everything a paddler should be. - SUBMITTED
Fraser Valley Dragon Boat Club created a new memorial bursary to honour deceased paddler Lois Boschman who embodied everything a paddler should be.
— image credit: SUBMITTED

Lois Boschman's voice could be heard across oceans, rivers and lakes.

It's not what most would have expected at first glance from the silver-haired woman with one of the most warming smiles, but when she spoke, her fellow dragon boaters paddled.

It's a voice that still booms in the ears of her teammates eight months after her death.

"I think we all hear her voice in our heads urging us on," said husband Ron Denman, also a paddler.

"One of the phrases that kind of echoes around in everybody's head is 'Come on you guys, we're in a race!'"

Boschman and her booming voice will live on through an annual bursary organized by the Fraser Valley Dragon Boat Club.

The Lois Boschman Memorial Bursary was created this year for two graduating students; one from the Chilliwack school district and the other from the Agassiz and Hope school districts.

Each bursary is $500.

Successful recipients are members of the Fraser Valley Dragon Boat Club's junior team.

Formed in 2004, Boschman was an early member of the Fraser Valley Dragon Boat Club, which now boasts mixed, junior, women-only, and senior teams.

Boschman started as a paddler nine years ago with the Mavericks Dragon Boat Team, and quickly moved into the caller's seat.

Passionately shouting out commands to her teammates, urging them to dig deep, to drive hard through that water, to go, go, go straight through that finish line, it's a voice that won't soon be forgotten.

"She had a great voice, you heard her everywhere," said Denman. "She was very passionate, she'd get so excited – there were teams that wanted her."

Last June Boschman was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Despite chemotherapy and radiation interventions, the cancer won.

Boschman died Nov. 19, 2013.

"Realizing now, they were more palliative than curative," said Denman of the chemo and radiation. "It was very fast."

When Denman was notified of the new bursary by the club's president at Boschman's memorial service, he was blown away.

But for the club, it was a no brainer.

"The person that she was, she was a strong woman, she was passionate and joyful about the sport, she basically embodied everything that we take seriously in this sport as far as camaraderie, team work, and team spirt," said club president Scott Farrell.

"Lois was a fighter until the end … the bursary is a way to keep her name and all she did for the club moving forward."

This year's recipients of the Lois Boschman Memorial Bursary were Carmen Taylor of Sardis secondary and Adrienne Ferguson of Agassiz secondary.

Ferguson will be going to the University of the Fraser Valley and will be working towards a Bachelor of Arts in either political science or law.

Taylor will be attending the University of British Columbia going into applied biology with the intent of specializing in sustainable agriculture. Taylor also intends to continue dragon boating next year with the UBC Thunder Dragons.

"For me, dragon boating is … not just a sport, but an opportunity to share experiences with a group of people with exceptional character," said Taylor at the Sardis secondary graduation ceremony.

Words Boschman lived by.

kbartel@theprogress.com

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