I have been working in the adventure sport industry since the mid-'80s and my professional resume includes skiing, backpacking, climbing, navigation, outdoor living skills, personnel development, youth work, problem-solving, etc. However, paddlesport has always been my primary activity.
I started kayaking on remote sea lochs in North West Scotland in 1987 and since then have paddled, guided, coached and been coached extensively in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the Americas. Sea kayaking is my specialization, but I spend a lot of time in kayaks and canoes on white water rivers, calmer rivers, lakes, and ponds. Occasionally, I also get to play in/on SUPs and fast skinny racing kayaks.
I started coaching and leading almost consecutively with becoming a paddler and subsequently became involved with British Canoeing (previously BCU) and on my relocation to the USA with the American Canoe Association. I hold the highest level of certification from both organizations (Level 5 Coach since 1998, Advance Open Water Instructor since 2003). I have consistently maintained Continuing Professional Development requirements for my certifications and continued to grow throughout this time. I am and have been since the mid-'90s, a provider/trainer/assessor for many coaching and leadership awards and certifications at the highest level. More recently I passed my British Canoeing Level 4/Coaching Diploma (2017), earned a Masters in Performance Coaching from Stirling University (2018), and became a provider for the British Canoeing Performance Coach certification (2020).
In 2001, having worked all around the UK and Europe, I relocated to North America. Since 2005 I have managed the Paddlesport and Outdoor Living Skills components for an undergraduate degree in Expeditionary Studies (https://www.plattsburgh.edu/programs/expeditionary-studies-major.html). We are possibly the most "hands-on experiential" college adventure sport program in the USA. This position allows me to work in the field with students over four years as they develop as adventure sport leaders and coaches. While guiding them on this journey, I get to introduce them to many of my favorite paddling locations, including Pembrokeshire (rough water sea kayaking) and the Outer Hebrides (wilderness expeditioning).
Additionally, I coach for other individuals, organizations, and occasionally get to explore recreationally.
As a coach, I believe my role is to support my athletes (I believe adventure sport participants are athletes despite the generally non-competitive disciplines) in building/creating their knowledge and skill. I may make suggestions to signpost options that might not be apparent or give alternate perspectives but hopefully avoid creating clones.
I like to think I have gathered and created substantial knowledge but strive to keep my knowledge and beliefs under constant review.
I'm happy to admit when I don't have an immediate answer as it means I have the opportunity to expand my understanding through working on developing answers to those questions. I find this especially productive and enjoyable when it happens in collaboration with my athletes.
I thoroughly enjoy the process of getting to know my athletes, building a relationship, learning from each other, and watching their growth.
While my discipline-specific knowledge focusses around sea kayak (and to a lesser extent other paddlesport disciplines and outdoor living skills), I believe my experience allows me to effectively mentor athletes, coaches, and leaders in a wide variety of adventure sport contexts.