Your Wisconsin Ambassador: Ashley

 HI! I’m Ashley Bethke, your Wisconsin World Kayak Ambassadors! If you’ve visited Wausau Whitewater Park in the past few years, you probably know me.  I have been the crazy girl running around at events like a chicken with my head cut off trying to make sure everything goes according to plan. I started paddling only a few years ago after visiting the park at the end of 2009, and have many people to thank for my paddling skills. My uncle, Mike Schroeder, kick-started my passion for the sport and has taught me almost everything I know about paddling. He’s had many first descents in the Midwest and growing up I always heard his kayaking stories. I wanted to start boating at a young age, but I just never found a way to fit it in with all the other sports I played. Also the community of paddlers at Wausau has taught me a great deal and they are the reason I love the sport more than most. Paddling is about hanging out with great friends, trusting them, and supporting each other, and this is what Midwest paddlers do best!


I’m quickly gaining more and more experience with paddling. Starting out at Wausau Whitewater Park just a few days before the Midwest Freestyle Championships in 2009 I learned a roll and jumped in the competition. The next spring was when i really got started, I ran sections 2 & 3 of the Wolf and the Peshtigo rivers. And traveled to Salida in June where I learned my first spins. By the end of the summer I was beginning cartwheels and ran the black at Hatfield at high water.

In 2011 I bought the new Jackson Rockstar which has done wonders in developing my paddling! The boat fits me perfectly, playing is more fun and running rivers is still a breeze! Still not having paddled anything over Class III, in July the Wolf was running at high water about 800CFS. (on it’s way down from 1500CFS but still up from it’s typical 300-400cfs) I had never been on Section 4 before and luckily John McConville was home for the summer to show me the ropes. Not many paddlers could remember the sections as well as him and explain them with such clarity. When we got to Big Smokey Falls (my first class IV) I ran it 4 times before finally sticking my boof and was so tired from the 4-5 hours we spent on the river that it was time to call it a day. Now I’ve added the Upper and Lower Gauley, the Ottawa (including surfing Garbarator), the Telico, and others to my list of rivers and took first in the Women’s Midwest Freestyle Comp!

Outside of Kayaking my life is pretty busy. GO PACK GO! I’m the biggest Packer fan you’ll ever meet. I’ve been on the season ticket waiting list since I was 7 and just finally got my tickets this year!! My friends regularly remind me that the refs and players cannot hear me through the TV. When I was a kid, I was picked first during recess football yes…even though I’m a girl 🙂 Sports and competition is who I am so I went and got my Masters Degree in Sports Management so I could make it my life. Now I coach soccer (the sport I’ve played since I was 5) with the Wisconsin Olympic Development Program and Viterbo University in La Crosse.

For some crazy reason Germany is my favorite country in the world 🙂 Pretty much because Germans are crazy and fun! I majored in the language in college, gained fluency and spend a month or two there about every other year. I now teach German at the local High School here in La Crosse. I recently stumbled upon a video proving this German craziness in kayaking. It takes place in Augsburg (my favorite city in Germany! ) [youtube][/youtube] Did I mention, I LOVE to Travel! Traveling tops all of my passions by far. I’ve conquered Germany, survived Oktoberfest, visited Slovenia, hitched a ride to Prague, surfed in Hawaii, and have driven across almost the entire US of A! My car adds about 24k miles/year, and without it I would struggle to survive. Besides all this I just like to try anything and learn anything new…Wisconsin winter’s are cold but Snowmobiling makes it bearable, I also am an avid roller-blader during the warmer months, and recently got back into rock climbing. I don’t sit still much so…catch me if you can!

Peace out….See you on the Water!

How to get ahold of me….email 🙂