Ok. So I’ll tell you a little story. This is my account of the history of the Nashville Whitewater Facebook group.
On me, I originally started paddling in Atlanta, GA where I lived for almost ten years. It was there I met folks like Chuck Armentrout, who taught me to roll and gave me river advice. Other folks like Rick Thompson, who gave me a good paddler to boat with, and by watching him I was able to progress pretty fast in my river skills. Rick Thompson was the current Atlanta World Kayak Ambassador. I attended a couple of Rick’s World Kayak Metro Hooch events, just friendly competitions that got people better at boating. I then attended a World Kayak Boater X/ Freestyle event on the Cartecay River and I was hooked! I had so much fun there. It felt good to be a part of a good group of people who just wanted to get better at boating. Anyway, I ended up moving to Nashville after my wife to be, Marisa came here for work. I had only met 5-6 people from Nashville, ever. In those 5 or 6 were Kevin Todd and Mike Loftis, of WeStroke.com, another awesome side project yet to come.
So when I got here, I discovered that the paddling community was not the same here. The Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association was here, and had been for years. But even they were looking for something new, something to bring membership up, something to connect people.
I really wanted to give World Kayak Ambassadorship a try. I’ve always loved to plan events and I absolutely love writing! I got in touch with some friends at the NOC and they directed me to Colin Kemp, our program manager. I was informed that Nashville was not a current WK Region, and so I’d have to create one. So I spent that first winter’s time off, getting information up on the new site about local paddling resources, clubs, playspots, etc.
I knew that in order to have any kind of good turn out, we had to have social media. I searched and searched for Nashville paddle related sites on Facebook. And then when I thought I’d have to create one from scratch, I found it.
Enter Nashville Whitewater, originally created by Mark Thompson to enhance numbers and communication between Nashville boaters of all types. When I found this page, it had 27 members. I was determined that that those 27 members should be the base for something much larger. So I started adding folks to the site. Not just Nashville folks, but folks from around the southeast too! So that people could see that we DO have a whitewater paddling community! And so that when Nashville boaters go out to those rivers far and wide, maybe they could meet some other local boaters and maybe a few out of towners there! So not only was I adding people, but there were several others too. I remember how proud we were when membership got to 200!
Well since then, membership’s been skyrocketing up to 507 today! That means more boaters, and better numbers hopefully at events. More people trying to do good stuff for the benefit of the community. All of which, I think, is awesome!
Big thanks to Mark Thompson for creating such a valuable resource as Nashville Whitewater!