- 19+ years paddling
- ACA River Kayaking L3 Instructor since 2015
- ACA River Canoe L4 Instructor since 2015
- Dagger Kayaks Ambassador/Media Team since 2015
- Published photographer in Kayak Session, Paddling Magazine, Canoeroots
- Slalom racing 2010-2014, C1
- OC1/OC2 slalom racing
- Head of media team for 2017 and 2019 Green Race
A gift to the paddling public, Sarah is a steward in a multi-faceted approach. Not only is she an ambassador and a gifted instructor, she’s a media guru who has a knack for telling a story. We anticipate that Sarah will not only bolster our program by offering our new canoe focused classes, but also help us reach new audiences through media.
How long have you been kayaking? How about teaching?
My dad threw me in the front of his boat when I was about 2, and I had this cute little paddle that he had made me. It had my name on it, and was shock corded into the boat because I was very prone to dropping it. Since then, I’ve kept boating, in various crafts including OC1, C1, OC2, K1, and sea kayaks. I also grew up watching my dad teach, and taught informally most of my life. In 2015 I decided I needed to go ahead and get ACA accredited, and got my L4 for canoe and kayak.
Why do you love to teach?
I have been really fortunate in what the paddling community has given me, and the people from whom I’ve received instruction. To me, teaching is about more than helping someone learning the strokes and moves to take a boat down a river. It’s about showing someone the skills that they can have, how capable they are, and how they could be a member of the community with all that encompasses. I love to teach for the way you can instill confidence in students, and see them progress and find their groove. I love to see them get from paddling everything that I’ve gotten – which is more than I can really say in this little blurb.
What’s your favorite skill to teach?
Hands down, the stern draw. I love it in canoeing, I love it in kayaking, I love it in anything. Such a satisfying, glidey, core engaging stroke. More stern draw.
What’s your favorite thing to do on the water?
Attainments are my happy place. I love the quick, hard challenge, combined with he technicality often required to naiveté upstream. My favorite thing is to go out, out some headphones in, and get my butt kicked by class I-II.
If you had to pick one craft to paddle the rest of your life, what would it be?
Uh-oh, panic mode! I’ll pick one from each category. For canoeing, I would probably choose a Dagger Ocoee or something similar. Fast, with edges, excellent carving, and fun on a wide range of water.
For kayaking, something with some volume up front, a bit less in the back, hard edges, and good speed. If I had to only choose one boat…Dagger Green boat!
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not on the water?
Working in media, I spend a lot of time behind a camera. Outside of a boat, it’s where I’m most comfortable, and where I spend the most time. I find a lot of crossover with teaching – I’m getting to share something that maybe otherwise wouldn’t get shared, and I get to share an experience. Even though I do most of the actual shooting alone, I connect with people in the application.
Describe the moment you knew you were hooked.
I think I’ve had a lot of those moments. It’s constantly reiterated to me how hooked I am, and usually it happens in those situations where I’m just out there, in awe of the places paddling takes me, and the people it’s brought into my life. The first time this really happened, that I can remember, was when I was 13. My dad and I were down by the Nantahala for Labor day weekend, it was raining, and I had gotten my first Ocoee the summer before (and subsequently fallen in love with it). That weekend we got on the Greenbriar, Oconaluftee, and Little of the Smokies. I remember chasing the rain, and waiting in this little restaurant in Cherokee to see if the levels would rise enough. I remember staying with friends, getting dressed in the rain, and turning each corner not knowing what was there, but being excited, giddy. I remember how beautiful it was, and how I was challenged. Satisfied.