Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

University’s kayaking club competes locally


The Alabama Kayaking Club has found a niche in the southeast as one of the only universities competing in kayaking events. Coach Tom Land, who has been with the Kayak Club since the early 1990s, said he appreciates the chance to coach athletes in an exciting sport.

“I always enjoy teaching kayaking because you can carry this sport for a life time,” Land said. “This sport is about adventure.”

The Alabama Kayaking Club competes individually with kayakers of all ages. Though there are no other kayaking universities in the southeast to compete against, the team finds competition locally. The Alabama Kayakers compete at Locust and Mulberry Fork on the Black Warrior River. Many of their competitors are older kayakers who have been kayaking for years, but the Crimson Tide still brings in individual wins.

Brian Bartlett, president of the Alabama Kayaking Club, competes in the major tournaments, but he is also a coach on the team. Bartlett is a veteran of kayaking and has won the Overall Cup of Down River racing as well as third place in the Slalom Cup.

Bartlett and other veterans of the Alabama Kayaking Club take time during practice to teach newcomers of the sport. Practice is crucial in kayaking, as athletes are often faced with dangerous situations.

“It can be dangerous, but if you prepare for it, kayaking can be fun,” Land said. “Racing makes you a better paddler, and that is what we are going for – becoming better.”

The number of new students to the sport has risen from just nine on the team last year to 25. The new kayakers may not compete their first year, but it is all based on how quickly they learn and if they are ready to compete. The team urges people interested in kayaking to join. While the sport is not for everyone, Bartlett said many people newcomers enjoy the challenge.

“For some people kayaking is a lot for them, and isn’t for them, but others just eat it up,” Bartlett said.

The Alabama Kayaking Club has seen an increase in the amount of women joining the team, something that has taken Bartlett and Land by surprise.

Camy Hayes, a newcomer to the sport and one of many women kayakers said she takes enjoyment in being apart of the Kayaking Club.

“(Kayaking) was an incredible, great way to have a stress relief,” Hayes said. “I was a little scared at first but now I feel confident that I can do it.”

The Kayaking Club starts their competition this winter, with Bartlett, Josh Hill, who placed 2nd in Down River, and Brent LaForte leading the way for the Crimson Tide. Lauren Ferguson and Bobby Dalton, who started kayaking last year, will be competing in tournaments this winter and spring as well.

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