Imagine this: you wake up on a Saturday morning in the North Country of New Hampshire. It is early November – it is windy and dry and a bitter thirty-three degrees. Despite the breeze and the white, frozen mountain tops in the distance, you get out of bed, pack your gear bag, and drive an hour on highways hugged on either side by leafless trees. All of this in order to spend an entire afternoon cramped in a plastic boat while splashing down one of northern New England’s (not yet frozen) rivers.
Our White Mountain students did just this last Saturday – and they LOVED IT! The stoke was very high for many members of our whitewater kayaking team as they participated in the first ever “Pemigewasset Triple Crown” event organized by The White Mountain School and Proctor Academy. With over twenty competitors, teams from both schools competed in three events. Our student kayakers not only raced through the Bristol Gorge near Bristol, NH, but they also competed in a head to head single elimination race down one of Bristol’s fiercest rapids, and battled over a judged play boating trick competition as well. It was a long day!
Whitewater kayaking head coach Matthew Toms, who helped organize the event, spoke about the exciting afternoon:
“White Mountain School kayakers paddled hard and really showed their talent, with strong standings across the events. It was a really fun day of celebrating the sport of whitewater kayaking with lots of excellent sportsmanship, tons of laughter, and good fun competition. We are planning on this becoming an annual event!”
Hopefully, it will – since White Mountain students performed so well. In the “Wildwater” race event, Banner Cole ’18 and James Egues ‘18 placed second and third respectively, while Bethany Pelotte ’17 placed first and Marlon Andrew ’19 earned second in the women’s category. In the men’s and women’s head to head races, White Mountain swept the competition with James, Max Lauster ’18 and Marlon placing first, second and third respectively. Lastly, in the freestyle rodeo play boat event, EJ Rimerman ’19 earned first, while Banner placed second and Taggart Cole ’20 and Max tied for third.
Marlon, one of White Mountain’s rising whitewater stars, was excited about getting back in the water. About the event, she says: “After not being in a kayak since the summer, the Pemi Triple Crown was super fun and opened up new doors in the world of whitewater kayaking competition.”
Marlon has been not only committed to enjoying New Hampshire’s rivers with the whitewater kayaking team, but she also participated as a student in the “Hydropower: The Costs and Benefits of Damming Free-Flowing Rivers” Field Course in September. Click here to check out photos from the Hydropower Field Course where students learned about hydroelectricity production and the preservation of northern rivers while whitewater rafting and kayaking as well.
The whitewater program at White Mountain, if anything, serves as an earmark example of the curiosity, courage and compassion of our students. Whenever you have a group of young people that are so excited and so committed to a sport that they are willing to spend all day in a freezing river, you know you have a group of learners that care. You know you have a group of learners that are growing to own their actions and take charge of their commitments and passions in life.
By Eliot Taft, Assistant Director of Admission and Communication