Nick Hanoian played water polo and competed on the track team during each of his four years at La Jolla High School, but it’s a completely different sport that has taken him around the world and provided him some unforgettable experiences.
Hanoian, who graduated from La Jolla High School in June, recently competed in the ICF Junior Canoe Sprint World Championships in Moscow, competing with the U.S. junior national team in K4.
In addition to competing in Russia, kayaking has taken him to Lake Placid, New York, Oklahoma City and the Czech Republic.
“A lot of times people define sport as what you’ve accomplished and who you’ve beat, but what many people don’t think about is the thousands of hours athletes spend training and countless failures they endure to get to an elite level,” Hanoian said in an e-mail interview from Moscow.
“For me, Junior Worlds is an accumulation of nine years of mental, physical, and emotional development. The final result, however disappointing or successful, will never change the intangible experiences I’ve had through kayaking.”
Hanoian, who is 18 and will attend UC Berkeley this fall, began kayaking when he was 9, when he answered an open invitation to try the sport with the San Diego Junior Lifeguard program. He took a liking to Olympic style sprint kayaking, and in 2006 first made a national team via a tryout at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. He trained with the Junior National Development Team in Lake Placid.
In 2007, Hanoian was named to the Junior World Championship team, which trained for two weeks in Slovakia before placing 16th out of approximately 50 teams at the Junior Worlds in Racice, Czech Republic.
After winning the Junior National Team trials last year, Hanoian was named to the national team as a member of the K4 team (a four-member kayak team). The group was scheduled to compete from July 31-Aug. 2 in Moscow.
“I (kayak) because I love to compete and I enjoy the challenge of training and the rush of racing,” Hanoian said. “On top of all that, the paddling community is very close from San Diego all the way up to the national and international levels.
“I’ve made friendships with coaches and athletes from all over the world through kayaking, and that is something that will surely stay with me for the rest of my life. There aren’t a lot of sports where you get the whole package: traveling the world, meeting new people and competing while representing the best your country has to offer.”