Clubbin with MikeKayak Club: Taking kayaking to the next level

Kayaking can be a fun recreational activity, and a club on this campus takes kayaking to the next level.

The members of the Kayak club at Western Carolina not only kayak for recreational purposes, but they also train to compete in intercollegiate tournaments throughout the Southeast.

This semester the club will be competing in two free-style competitions. The first is the Styrofoam Cup competition in April. The event will have a kayak slalom competition and a freestyle competition. The second event will be the New River Rodeo in late April.

The freestyle competition (also referred to as rodeos) is judged much like a gymnastics competition. Competitors are judged on the number of maneuvers they perform and the difficulty level of those moves. Shane Williams, WCU’s Outdoor Program coordinator and the club’s advisor, said, “Although the club is competing, boaters of all skill levels are welcome to be a part of the club.”

The club uses kayaks from the university, but they also have a sponsor that has provided kayaks for the club to use. Dagger, a kayak manufacturer, has provided the club with two of the newest models it makes. Williams hopes to gain other sponsors as the club grows.

To train for the events, the club has two main locations: the upper Tuckaseigee and the Nantahala River. According to William, western North Carolina has some of the best training areas in the Southeast United States.

This club is relatively new and its focus is on using the natural resources in this area. According to Williams, most students don’t know about the boating options in the area. They also probably don’t know that three of the best boaters of the United States C-I team are graduates form Western Carolina. They are probably not aware that this area has one of the longest seasons and some of the best rivers. Western North Carolina is also a half day’s ride from three of the four major kayak manufacturers.

The club’s origins are closely tied to the Outdoor Programs for the university and the club participates in many of their programs. Coming up, the club will be involved with a rodeo clinic, which will serve as an instructional clinic. Alan Ray, a local pro boater, will be helping.

The future of the kayak club is bright and Williams is very optimistic. He hopes that the club will become a more organized team that travels to more competitions. He would also like to see some of the club members make it to the professional level.

Students who are interested in the kayak club and would like more information can contact Shane Williams at 227-3620 or stop by the 2nd floor of the University Center.