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The Blue & Gray Press | June 24, 2018

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Stand up paddle boarding makes waves on campus


A new club arrived at the University of Mary Washington this fall, and it centers on a sport that is as new as it is unique. Stand up paddle boarding, commonly referred to as SUP, is a relatively new sport that originated in Hawaii, and found roots at UMW.SUP

Esther Newman, president of UMW SUP, said the club offers a fun, relaxing way to play on the water.

“With a minimum [amount] of equipment, you can paddle anything from ocean surf to lakes and rivers. SUP offers a full body workout and has become a favorite cross-training activity for outdoor enthusiasts,” Newman said.

According to Newman, the sport is most related to surfing, since both sports involve standing on a board while floating and moving on the water, but surfing is entirely on ocean waves.

Here at Mary Washington, the SUP club makes the most of the nearby Rappahannock River, located just a few blocks downhill from campus.

There are four local companies that use the Rappahannock for SUP purposes. The sport’s popularity is growing not only in the area but across the country as well in recent years.

While the club primarily focuses on creating a fun and relaxing environment, stand up paddle boarding is a sport with racing and competition opportunities that students can participate in.

The sport may have an early reputation as a low-key, simple activity, but Newman said it is possible to receive a full body workout while paddling down a scenic river. The fusion of natural beauty and physically intensive activity makes stand up paddle boarding enjoyable for a wide variety of people.

Founded in August, the SUP club gathered

110 student emails at the annual Club Carnival so they could spread the word about the club and upcoming activities.

Newman also utilized OrgSync and Facebook to organize events and make sure plenty of people knew about the club. Flyers were put up across campus advertising “SUP Sundays,” where students were invited to come and learn about the sport at the river.

The club has many goals and ideas to promote recreational and competitive paddling, according to Newman. These include instructing members on safe paddling techniques, organizing group meets for paddle boarders to practice and develop skills, incorporating river clean-ups for the Rappahannock and offering club members classes ranging from yoga to paddling with dogs.

Newman said the club held three SUP Sundays thus far. The club also partners with Black Dog Paddle, a company from Richmond that supplies boards and instructors for the club.

In light of the colder weather, UMW SUP will hold an upcoming indoor “Demo Day” on Nov. 24. Newman said it will be like an indoor pool party where students can learn SUP skills and techniques at Goolrick Hall and see a special appearance by Riley, the SUP pup. The club will also have a fundraiser planned for Nov. 21.