September Member of the Month: Dustin Grettenberger

| September 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

We are excited to select Dustin Grettenberger as our September Member of the Month! No one is more deserving of this credit than Dustin, as he has always helped out whenever needed without a fuss. NYO cannot thank him enough for all that he has contributed, repairing canoes, volunteering his time for outreach events, and just being one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet. Dustin hails from CA, participated in his first OC6 race with NYO this season, and never forgets to protect himself from the sun with his trusty floppy hat.

Here’s what Jason has to say about Dustin:

The problem with Dustin is, I can’t think of anything notably negative about him, to counter-balance the heaping mountain of selfless contributions he constantly invests into NYO. That makes it annoyingly difficult to roast him. Pardon the cliche, but Dustin is genuinely in a class of his own, always extending himself to support and enable others, even if at the cost of his own gain. He generously donates his personal time and constructive energy behind the scenes, while minimizing the attention, always deflecting the overdue credit he fully deserves.

Even when life tugs away his free time to come out and paddle at practices, he’ll somehow reliably carve a way to show up for NYO’s community outreach events, a premiere ambassador for our core mission of touching fellow city neighbors and sharing the unique sport & culture that brings our paddler family together. Just weeks ago, he surrendered his seat on the epic Staten Island paddle, to instead help NYO teach kids about outrigger paddling at the Botanical Gardens.

When NYO needed capable hands to help with critical boat repairs over the winter, Dustin volunteered countless hours to the gritty work in our freezing Pier 40 workspace. When NYO sought help to build shelves and other infrastructure, Dustin quietly stepped up to offer his skills. Who monitors the finicky RSVP numbers, and adds himself to help stabilize problematic headcounts, often salvaging the thin sanity of coaches juggling dynamic rosters? Doh, need 20 pounds of food on late notice for the Spring Meeting, who might be able to pick it up and lug to the boathouse? How about Friday evening brainstorm sessions for expanding outreach, anyone? And long after practices wrap up, who will you find on dock caring for the canoes & equipment, down to the final buckles on the boat covers?

Dustin is always there, even when you don’t see him, to ensure the path for others is as smooth as he can manage. We are all so fortunate to have Dustin in our ohana, much love to you sir!

Will says:

In the 3.5 years that Dustin has been a NYO member, he has grown from growth paddler to racer. I’m glad that this year he finally took the leap into racing with his first race at Monumental. However, Dustin’s true spirit is his undying support of NYO’s mission and its paddlers. Anytime there was a need for a person to assist with a novice session, a session that was short a paddler, or just needing to check on the canoes after a storm, Dustin was there. He’s usually also the last to leave the boathouse after any session as he ensures everything is in order before leaving. And while it’s these little things that most people do not notice, I would like to say that many people including myself do notice these things and truly appreciate everything that he does.

Julie says:

Dustin is one of NYO’s most considerate volunteers. He consistently demonstrates respect for the canoes, boathouse, and fellow paddlers. Dustin takes on the understaffed repair tasks and outreach events with good cheer. And he’s first aid/CPR certified! His sense of style shows how serious he is about sun protection (floppy hats) and water safety (bright PFD). Recently, Dustin has taken on more responsibilities in leading novice sessions and serving on the outreach committee. With his ready smile and efficient work style, Dustin’s a real catch for NYO!

Laura says:

Dustin is easily one of the most helpful and hardworking people in this club. He dedicates much of his free time (and his paddle time) to behind-the-scenes boat and paddle maintenance and volunteering at NYO events. His reliability makes him the go-to person when extra help is needed to fill a boat for practice or novice sessions.

On top of his helpfulness, Dustin is a modest and genuine soul who brings a great warmth to the club and in the boat. He introduces himself to the new paddlers who trickle in through the season and helps to make them feel welcome.

During practice Dustin is dedicated, always ready to hop into a small boat or OC6, and actively seeks feedback to better his stroke. I love it when Dustin and I get to paddle together during intervals!
Outside of practice—usually during off-season NYO eating events—I’m always happy to catch up with one of NYO’s coolest dudes.

Pssst, Dustin, please don’t ever leave!

Read on to learn more about our Mr. September!

Name: Dustin Grettenberger
Age: 39
Hometown: San Diego, CA
Occupation: Engineer

How long have you been with NYO? How did you get into paddling? How did you find us?
I came across the NYO Novice page on Meetup.com my first summer in New York, after moving from California. This was a little over three years ago. Although I’d never paddled I was familiar with the sport. I had a friend that paddled with Ikuna Koa in San Diego. I went to watch a few races in California and always told myself I’d try paddling someday. It took a move across the country and an NYO Novice Session to make it happen.

Besides paddling, what else do you do with NYO?
I’m up for anything and everything. From off-season food seeking adventures to NYO camping trips, if my schedule allows for it I’ll be there.
I also enjoy helping out with the NYO public outreach events. I believe that there are a lot of people out there who could benefit from the opportunity to get involved in a water sport like outrigger paddling, but they just don’t realize that it exists, that it’s easily accessible, and that it could be one of the most enjoyable things they’ve ever done. Although paddling is relatively new to me I’ve spent my life playing on the water and understand the positive impacts such a sport can have on a person’s life. I’ve been very lucky. Helping to give someone an opportunity to feel it out, and possibly find an activity that makes all of the difference in their life, just feels like the right way for me to give back.

Tell us about any notable races with NYO:
I participated in my first race, the Washington Monumental, this season. I had always been skeptical of racing because I didn’t think I’d enjoy paddling so far and so long without taking time to enjoy the surroundings. I was wrong. There wasn’t a dull moment during the race. I’d never experienced anything like the energy I felt in the canoe that day. Every stroke mattered. I didn’t want to let my team down, and I felt like all of my teammates felt the same way. We all kept our heads in the canoe and worked together. I’d consider going on record to admit that I caught a glimpse of the Washington Monument and Arlington National Cemetery during the race, but I really don’t want to let my teammates know that I was slackin’ for those two brief moments.

Greatest accomplishment in an OC:
My great memory up to this point is more of an experience than an accomplishment. Our team’s photo finish in the Washington Monumental race is something I’ll never forget. I’m proud of the team and myself for not giving up when there was another team alongside of us for the last couple of miles of the race, pushing us to our limits and threatening to pass us on every call. I’m pretty sure that they were even a seat ahead of us at one point. That was the moment I thought someone might throw in the towel. Nobody did though. We kept on fighting and came out ahead.

If you could say one thing to newcomers interested in paddling or joining NYO, what would it be?
Don’t hesitate to give this sport more than one try. I didn’t instantly fall in love during my first NYO Novice Session. To be honest, it was painful. I was using muscles I’d never used before, and mentally I was discouraged because I really thought I’d be a lot better at it. Outrigger paddling is a lifelong learning experience. There are so many layers to unravel, and areas to improve on, should you choose to commit yourself. Technique, teamwork, physical fitness, and mental focus all play into the experience. The great thing about this sport is that once you get a feel for the basic stroke technique you can develop the skills at your own pace, set your own goals, and enjoy paddling in whatever capacity works best for you. From short sprints, or long distance races, to therapeutic sunset sessions, there are countless ways to enjoy the sport.

Rapid Fire Questions:

When you’re not out on the water paddling, where are we most likely to find you?
I’ll do everything I can to get to Rockaway Beach for a surf when there is a hint of swell and the wind is blowing the right direction.

Favorite post-paddle meal:
I often stop by my neighborhood pizza shop, J’s, for a couple of slices after weeknight practices. It may not be the most nutritious, but it is always so delicious. It’s also fast and hassle free, which is important to me when I’m getting home late on a weeknight.

Most important item you carry with you into the canoe:
A hat. I’ve spent so much of my life having fun out in the sun. The last thing I need is more sun on my head.

Last picture you took on your phone:
A picture related to work, of some equipment at the Con Edison steam generating plant in East Village.

Last concert you went to:
Cola Boyy in San Diego last month. I’ll never forget that show because of the location. It was in a back alley garage haphazardly converted to a music venue/recording studio. There was a young man collecting $5 for entry, which went it to a jar at the door. BYOB. It was fun to feel like a teenager again.

Last song stuck in your head:
“Send Me and Angel” by Real Life. It was playing in a restaurant the other night and now all I can think about is that song and the dance/bike-off scene from the 80’s BMX movie, Rad.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be:
Teleportation. I love experiencing new places, but I’m so sick of airplanes and airports.

One thing you can’t live without:
Goals.

Secret guilty pleasure:
Craigslist. Just scrolling through the ads. Not buying. Mostly for surfboards, but sometimes I’ll get on a kick searching for other things, like motorcycles or canoe paddles.

Favorite restaurant or bar in NYC:
Bar B. It’s this casual small plates establishment in my neighborhood that serves up amazing dishes and has a great neighborhood vibe. It’s tiny. There is no seating. You eat standing up at the bar, which is no wider than the plates that they serve the dishes on.

Favorite place in the world:
Baja California, Mexico. I can’t get enough of its rugged desert coastline. When I can surf all day and sleep under a star filled desert sky, I’m in heaven.

A great paddle makes you feel:
Like my day is complete. Anything else that might happen that day is just a bonus.

Category: Homepage News, Member of the Month

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