Monday, April 19, 2010

Paddling Heros

Paddling Heros: Pat & Susan
When you hear "Paddling Heros" in our sport, a lot of people immediately conjure young turks hucking off 100-ft. waterfalls, throwing ends in massive holes or sunburned paddlers easing into port after 1,000 mile journeys. I stopped for a minute and tried to think who my paddling heros were and was led in a quite different direction.

I thought of two ladies that tow a trailer of boats every year from Houston, Texas to North Carolina for Carolina Canoe Club's annual "Week of Rivers". Two ladies who volunteer every day of that week of their vacation to lead beginner and novice boaters down rivers that they've never done before; runs that will likely form the most important lasting impression in those new boaters' minds of what paddling is all about for them for the rest of their lives. Two ladies that represent what ACA paddlers and paddlesports are all about to a whole new group of eager paddlers, year after year.

These ladies are Susan Eda and Pat Isley of Houston, Texas. Susan and Pat started attending Week of Rivers in 1987 after having been shown these rivers by other experienced paddlers in NC. The camaraderie and mentoring they experienced in this kind of paddling group was not lost on Susan and Pat. They quickly realized that they too could be a part of this never-ending chain and took up the role of mentor for a whole new generation.

Susan and Pat are both ACA and American Red Cross Instructor Trainers in Canoeing. Susan is also a Kayaking Instructor for both organizations. In Texas, they lead the Spring Woods Canoe Group, which is a group of volunteer instructors who teach canoeing, kayaking, and rescue skills to Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the general public.

If those credentials don't qualify as "Paddling Heros", I don't know what can. You can probably find these heros in every ACA Paddle America Club across North America. I make it a point every year to thank them for what they mean to our club and our sport. Who are your paddling heros? ACA Board Secretary Larry Ausley

-Larry Ausley
ACA Board of Directors and Secretary
River and Coastal Kayaking Instructor


  1. The author of this article would be one of mine. Larry gives back more to this sport than anyone else I know. He helped guide me from Class I newbie with a fear of being upside down to a Class III-IV boater.

    Thanks Larry!

  2. Canoeing & kayaking positively impacts the lives of so many people. Thank you Larry for highlighting some of those who make a difference for the rest of us!