Joined OCC: July 22, 1971
Elected to Winged “O”: February 23, 2004
The Outrigger Canoe Club is a remarkable training ground to develop athletic excellence. Taking Tracy Phillips seriously can be challenging at times. This fair, petite dynamo sounds like helium sabotaged her speech, and she shows up for distance practice dressed as if ready to pick pineapple in the fields.
But she has a point, noting that a good portion of Olympians, national team athletes, NCAA champions, and Hawaii state champions can be counted among our Club membership.
And then there is Tracy’s own enduring record of state, national and international athletic achievements. State volleyball champion (doubles and mixed) from 1978-1981, state racquetball champion (singles, doubles, mixed) from 1981-1983, Molokai outrigger canoe champion, 1979, 1984, 1985 and 1992.
Member of the U.S. Olympic Team (K-1, K-2, K-4) for the years 1988, 1992 and 1996. Member of the U.S. National Kayak team from 1986-1996.
Twice Tracy was selected as the top kayaker in the U.S. She competed in the World Championships from 1986-1996 (except Olympic years). And won Gold and Silver medals in K-1 and K-2 at the 1995 Pan American Games.
And it all started right here at the Outrigger Canoe Club, she insists, from “little kid days” with surfing lessons at Tongg’s from Charlie Amalu and Bill Capp. She grew up at the Club loving ocean sports.
She giggles at the memory of fellow Winged “O” Bill Capp buying her first surfboard, an 8-foot tanker, when she was about nine years old. She went on to compete in and win numerous OCC, Ala Moana, Queen’s, Chun’s Reef and Haleiwa Junior and open surfing meets.
As fellow Winged ‘O”, Kisi Haine recalls, “Tracy was an awesome surfer, awesome athlete. Everything she did, she did great. But when I think back to those days, I just remember a big white lip.”
Having no siblings, she grew up thinking of the Haine (Marc and Kisi, both Winged “O”s), Rigg (Lisa, Scott, Mark Winged “O” , Matt and Doug), and Balding (Peter Jr. and Gay) kids as her brothers and sisters. “I was pretty much a loner, Kisi was my sister and we all surfed and played beach volleyball at the Club. I think I played volleyball tournaments with every Rigg except Doug and Lisa.”
Growing up around such gifted athletes at Outrigger, Tracy felt like they all pushed each other to a point where they were always getting better, no matter what sport they did.
When she started outrigger paddling, there were no age group categories. Novice was the entry level crew. She got steering lessons from none but the best, fellow Winged “O”s Fred Hemmings Jr. and Tommy Conner. And the list of sprint and distance competitions Tracy raced on behalf of the Club is for the most part long and golden.
She eventually began sharing her technical knowledge, coaching junior crews but her favorite coaching experience was the 1997 Men’s Novice A crew. She worked with that crew, watched them steadily improve with every regatta, and at the Oahu’s at Keehi that year, watched them win a close race with a strong time of 7:03.06 right there in lane 1. “Then they had the worst race at States! Junk lane, wrong flag!! But still, it’s one of my proudest athletic moments,” she giggled.
Outrigger has been and always will be her home. It was where she grew up, and where family and friends are. And all in her ohana would aver that there is no one who performs with more heart, and who achieved so much through sheer mental determination.
The helium-filled squeak in her voice is gone, overtaken by sincere heart. “At Outrigger, there’s so much excellent around you, you have no choice but to be better, and to strive for that same excellence.”
Tracy epitomizes the spirit of the Winged “O” of the second generation.