We have more hats coming, the decals are being made and the shirt design is coming together, so what is the PaddleVA logo all about? The PaddleVa Family Project is a blog format that we will use to highlight our community. We want to celebrate the amazing places we have to paddle, some of the awesome people who paddle those places and the products they use to do it. I've been doing most of the blogging on our site for the past 12-15 months, and I've enjoyed sharing my journey, but it's time to open it up. As we lead up to our blog/ website redesign, I'll be featuring some of the PaddleVa Family contributors, people who have agreed to share their story with us, from whitewater, SUP, canoeing, sea kayaking and kayak angling.
Two of those people are Kayak Kevin Whitley and Rob Choi. Both have been awarded Virginia Saltwater Expert Angler for catching 6 trophy (citations) of different species in one year. They are the only two kayak anglers to accomplish this feat. Needless to say, they're pretty good anglers and paddlers, but that is not why we asked them to help cultivate our community through the PaddleVa Family Project. Both Rob and Kevin are good people. If there is one thing I've learned from my 11 years in the outdoor industry, it's this; Being exceptionally good at something does not, by default, make you an exceptionally good person. That is a distinction born of true passion, a subtle humility and a desire to share the love. These guys have it.
Visit Rob's blog here: Angling Addict. He recently posted a sick video of his 2013 season and it was excellent. Take a look.
*One of the "Family" moments that sticks in my head comes from the TKAA tournament last year. Rob was in the midst of his great year and another angler was laying a heap of praise at his feet. He thanked his fellow angler, but reminded him, " I'm just a fisherman, like you. I just love going fishing." That is keeping it real. As a blogger, photographer and fisherman myself, I've reached out to Rob a number of times and each time he offers help with anything I need. Good people.
Visit Kayak Kevin's blog here: Kayak Kevin. Kevin's website is a wealth of info and he always puts together great videos. Kevin also hosts a video podcast and the YouTube Channel can be found here: Kayak Kevin Podcasts.
*My Kayak Kevin "Family" moment comes from a shopping experience in Ocean's East 2. I was looking for a good rod for big reds. I was fresh off my first catch of 34"+ reds in Florida and was psyched to chase some VA bulls. Kevin showed me the set-up he used. It looked soo light! I kept asking, "Are you sure this is enough backbone?" I asked again and again as he flexed the rod shaft against the roof of the shop. For anyone familiar with Kevin's exploits, you know how ridiculous my skepticism was, and he handled it with grace. I was impressed. Good People.
Being a great kayak angler, being a great paddler, being a great whitewater boater, being a great canoeist, or being great at anything, comes from pouring your soul into that activity. It comes from putting in the work. It's admirable, but people often take the adulation that results from that dedication, and they allow it to shape what they put back out into the world. They forget where they started. They forget to cultivate that passion in others. They forget to help folks, the way they were helped long ago. The PaddleVa Family Project is about all of us who never forget to pass along the passion.
There will be Pro-Staffers and non Pro-staffers involved in the Project, because we are all a part of this family, this community. I'll continue to highlight the folks involved, and why we wanted them to be involved, as we get closer to the website redesign. But in the meantime, Rob and Kevin do paddle for some companies, and they represent them well. Check out the products they use on their adventures.
Rob Choi :
****** We also have another very cool Kayak Kevin announcement, but we'll save that one until next week, after it all gets settled. Stay tuned, it's awesome!