HISTORY OF THE SEATTLE CANOE AND KAYAK CLUB
by Dr. Eric Hughes
(Revised April 2010)
The Seattle Canoe Club was founded “officially” in 1969 by Dr. Theodore “Ted” Houk and Ben Dotson, but its roots go back to the late 1950’s. In the fifties and sixties Ted Houk began designing and building flatwater canoes and kayaks. Dr. Houk, Ben Dotson, Imre Szupkay and a few others built over 100 boats, approximately 30 of which later became the property of the Seattle Canoe Club. (Please note: For the first 30 years the club’s name was the “Seattle Canoe Club.” In 2000 the word “kayak” was added to the name to more accurately describe what the club was about. From this point on, therefore, it will be referred to as the Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club, or SCKC.)
During the fifties and sixties, a few people started flatwater paddling and in 1966 the first comprehensive flatwater racing clinic was held in the Northwest. Kalman Blaho, a famous Hungarian coach, was brought to Seattle to conduct the week-long clinic. The on-the-water activity was held on Green Lake and the conditioning portion at the University of Washington. After the clinic a few Northwest people began training seriously. This 1966 event could be considered the “unofficial” beginning of the club. Dr. Eric Hughes, the current oldest member of SCKC, became active at the time of the Blaho clinic.
From the late 1950’s until 1969 flatwater racing became increasingly popular due to Ted Houk’s enthusiasm, dedication, boat building knowledge, organization skills, and perseverance. Dr. Houk had a dream to involve young people of the area in a “little league of water sports” and through competitive paddling develop healthy minds and bodies. His ultimate goal was to place paddlers on the Olympic team.
Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation
In 1969, Dr. Houk obtained the old Aqua Theater at Green Lake from the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation in which to build and store boats. With this meeting place available, Dr. Houk and Mr. Dotson took the steps to establish the Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club as an official club. Daily team workouts were scheduled under head coach Imre Szupkay. Three of the best paddlers of this period were Lynda Griffith, Sandee Vanderbilt and Randy Morton.
The Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club has been affiliated with the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation since its beginning in 1969. At first this association was very loose and not documented other than by letters of permission to use facilities. The club controlled its own finances and was self governed with its own bylaws. Over the years the Department asserted more and more control by placing many restrictions and requirements on the club. A participation fee was added for club members and for those who enrolled in classes while other park users such as swimmers, walkers, joggers, roller bladders and even boaters who bring their own boats have free park use. Because club members and class enrollees are “captive” participants they must pay a fee (life isn’t always fair). Canoes and kayaks that were purchased with club monies were confiscated by the Department and became city property. For years a jointly prepared “Use Agreement” consisting of 40 to 50 pages outlined the responsibilities of the club and Department. In 2007 a new set of bylaws, prepared by the Department, replaced the club’s bylaws and a Department appointed “Advisory Council” replaced the elected “Board” of the club.
The Parks Department provides a boat house and office staff, sanctions club programs, advertises classes, provides an insurance umbrella, collects fees and provides banking and payroll services. For this the Department, under the auspices of the Associated Recreation Council of which SCKC is a member, charges a fee for all outgoing transactions and for certain other services. In return for the services provided, SCKC teaches all the canoe and kayak classes offered through the Department at Green Lake and provides the equipment and instructors at club’s expense.
Dr. Hughes began canoeing at four years of age in Victoria, B.C. and paddled competitively as a sprint canoeist during his youth. As a young adult, he started marathon canoeing while teaching in Minnesota and became one of the best marathon paddlers in the U.S. In 1950, he moved to Seattle and continued to paddle both whitewater and flatwater recreationally but wasn’t involved with competition until the 1966 Kalman Blaho canoe clinic, mentioned earlier in this history. From that point on, he has been the thread holding the club together during good times and bad and during the shift in emphasis from flatwater to marathon and back to flatwater again. He showed equal interest in both disciplines and was a mediator when friction arose. Eric continued to compete in both marathon and flatwater until over 80 years of age.
Dr. Hughes served on the Board of Directors almost every year since the club began. He has been treasurer, vice president and for four years the club president. His major contribution for over 35 years, however, was as instructional and coaching coordinator. During these 35 years he taught more adult classes than any of the other teachers and when the competitive youth flatwater program began in 1987 he became one of the coaches and was responsible for the beginning and level two classes for youth for many years.
Several flatwater sprint regattas were held at Green Lake from 1969 to 1975. The highlight was the National Championships in 1973. Eight members paddled in the regatta and 16 members served as officials. Lynda Griffith and Sandee Vanderbilt were medal winners in the intermediate division.
About 1975, the paddling emphasis shifted from Olympic flatwater to marathon racing. This change occurred because many communities in the Northwest began to sponsor canoe races as part of their annual spring or summer festivals. Paddlers were able to enter marathon races almost every weekend in Washington, Oregon or British Columbia. On the other hand, flatwater competition was very limited because there were only two other active clubs on the West Coast - one in California and one in B.C. Also, Dr. Houk’s health was deteriorating about this time and there was no one else willing to devote the hours necessary to keep the flatwater program going.
In 1979, the city of Seattle decided to demolish most of the Aqua Theater, retaining only a small portion as a historic monument, and build a new boat house to accommodate rowing, sailing and canoeing. Dr. Hughes arranged for SCKC's boats to be stored at the University of Washington and at club members’ homes during this construction. Most club activity came to a halt; there were no organized practices and only five people paid their dues. The club existed in name only.
Ted Houk Memorial Canoe and Kayak Regatta
One positive decision that was made during the semi-dormant year of 1979 was to host an annual event, to be named the Ted Houk Memorial Canoe and Kayak Regatta, in honor of Dr. Houk who had passed away the previous year. The first race was held in September of 1979, and has been held each year since.
For ten years this regatta was primarily for marathon canoes as most of the club’s activity was in this discipline but some recreational canoe and kayak races, many of a novelty nature, were included. In 1989 the Ted Houk Memorial became an Olympic-style regatta with only one marathon race in the schedule. After a few years the marathon race was dropped and the regatta became a sprint race only.
The new boat house was finished in 1980. A few boats had disappeared but most were moved back to Green Lake, and regular training began again. However, the flatwater boats were seldom used and a new fleet of marathon canoes was built or purchased.
The club flourished during the 1980's with membership growing each year until it leveled off at about 80 in 1986. Some of the top marathoners during that time were Dave and Will Anderson, Geoff Briggs, Ken Green, Eric Hughes, Bob Jacques, Jim McCullough, John Robinson, Steve Salins and John Vraspir. A few flatwater paddlers remained active, with canoeist Juji Batlik and kayaker David Halpern becoming members of the national team.
Youth Sprint Racing Team
In the fall of 1987 a club member, Brian Pinkerton, volunteered to start a youth flatwater group. Although only five young people took part, Brian’s program was the forerunner of the revival of flatwater Olympic style paddling in the club. The following fall two new members, Warren Edwards and Dan Henderson, brought the same enthusiasm for flatwater racing to the club that had been missing since Dr. Houk’s era. In the spring of 1989 a Youth Sprint Racing Team was formed which rapidly became one of the best teams in the country.
Over twenty members went to the 1989 National Championship in Indianapolis. Jeff Walkky won the championship in the Bantam (13 years and under) C1 500m event and, paired with Jeff Coats, also won the Bantam C2 250m. The Bantam C4 with Walkky, Coats, Mike Gilbrough and Tamarack Samaras also earned gold. In the Bantam Division SCKC placed second and in total team points fourth.
Dan Henderson was the driving force of the new sprint team. He placed high demands on himself and his paddlers, and in one year brought national attention to Seattle. Dan solicited help from parents, and these volunteers performed a yeoman’s task in supporting the team’s activities. Dan could be called the “father” of youth sprint racing at SCKC. He laid the foundation for the youth program that later produced more national team members and national champions than any club in the U.S.
In 1990 a definite split developed in the club between those interested in marathon canoe racing and the Olympic style sprint canoe and kayak racing. Most youth activity centered around sprint racing but few adults showed interest in this “new” style of paddling and most continued to paddle only the marathon canoes.
The National Championships were held in Indianapolis again in 1990 and the club was even more successful than the previous year. Overall the team placed third, with the Bantams placing first in their Division. 35 boats reached the finals, 24 won medals and 8 won National Championships. These champions were: Nicole Hollingsworth, Nate Johnson, Stephen Mollman, Jenna Montgomery, Molly Murchison, Carrie Nyman, Tamarack Samaras, Dawn-Marie Scherrer and Erin Trent. Other highlights in 1990 were: Dawn Marie Scherrer was named to the national B team and Henry Lee to the Junior team. Dawn Marie went on to win 2 medals at the Pan-Am Games in Venezuela.
Because the Ted Houk Memorial Regatta was converted to an Olympic sprint racing event in 1989 the marathon paddlers in the club decided to have a day of racing on their own. The first Seattle Marathon Canoe Classic was held in 1990 and was held each year until 1999. The director of this event for most of this time was a long time member of the club, Neil Bransfield.
National Center of Excellence
In just 2 years, 1989 and 1990, the youth program became recognized as a national power and was established as one of the four “Centers of Excellence” in the U.S. by the national governing body-USACK. These four centers were charged with the responsibility of developing paddlers capable of becoming Olympians. This goal was finally accomplished by SCKC in 2000 when two members, Tamara Jenkins and Jordan Malloch, and a former member and coach, Kathy Colin, were selected to participate in the Sydney Olympics. Ted Houk’s ultimate goal when he founded the club in 1969 was reached with Tamara’s and Jordan’s selection. Although other club members (David Halpern, Greg Barton, Terry Kent and Kathy Colin) had also been Olympians, Tamara and Jordan were the first to start their paddling careers in the club’s youth program. David Halpern started his flatwater paddling with SCKC but as an adult prior to the formation of the youth program (more on David later).
The year 1991 saw an increase in youth sprint team activity under the aggressive and dynamic leadership of Dan Henderson as head coach. By this time Dan had formed a well organized parent’s committee that operated independently, holding regular meetings of their own apart from the monthly club Board meetings. This group selected a “chair” and coordinators for sub committees such as recruiting, travel, equipment, facilities, events, uniforms and fund raising. In essence the youth team was a separate entity - a club within a club. The club treasurer was even asked to keep a separate record of income and expenses. Youth team parents spoke of “our money” while adult club members often got upset because too much was being spent on youth team equipment and activities. These financial problems exacerbated the split, mentioned earlier, between the marathoners and sprinters. By 1992 it was necessary to confront this situation and, after much discussion, the sprint “committee” was made an integral part of the club as one of the standing committees and incorporated into the bylaws. Youth sprint team members now automatically became junior members of the club. Unfortunately, for several years after this animosity between the two groups occasionally resulted in heated discussions at Board and membership meetings.
At the end of the 1991 season three club members - Greg Barton, Terry Kent and Dawn Marie Scherer - were named to the senior national team and three youth - Nate Johnson, Jeff Walkky and Juraj Osusky - were selected for the junior national team.
Something new was added to SCKC's schedule in 1992 in the form of a four to five day sprint training camp. The camp was held at Gwinwood, a Christian church camp and conference center near Lacey, WA. With enrollment open to all paddlers in the Northwest, this camp was held almost every year until 1999. The year 1992 saw club members Greg Barton and Terry Kent named to the U. S. Olympic Team to compete in Barcelona. Greg was third in the K1 1000m and fourth in the K2 1000m with Norm Bellingham. Greg demonstrated his versatility as a paddler in 1992 as he also won the world marathon C2 championship with his brother Bruce as partner.
The club was honored to have a new kayaker, Greg Barton, join in 1990. Greg was born in Michigan and received a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan. He is generally considered to be the best kayaker ever, not only in the U.S., but in the world. Greg has won International Championships in distances from 500m to l0,000m in both kayaks and marathon canoes. The highlight of his competitive career was two gold medals in the 1988 Seoul Olympics (K1 1000m and K2 1000m with Norm Bellingham). He was also an Olympic bronze medallist in both 1984 and 1992 in the K1 1000m. In 1987 he became a double world champion in Duisberg, Germany in the K1 1000m and K1 10,000m. This was considered an impossible feat for someone to be the best in the world in both the sprint and the long distance race. Greg also won world championships in the 10,000m in both 1985 and 1991. Although he is best known as a kayaker he has also won a total of 8 U.S. Canoe Association marathon championships from 1982 through 1994. Greg Barton is continuing to contribute to canoe/kayak sport as a designer of boats manufactured by several companies in the U.S. and Canada. He also has his own company, Epic Kayaks, that produces both recreational and racing kayaks and paddles. Greg met his wife, Justine, a canoe club member, while paddling on Green Lake. Greg, Justine and their two daughters now paddle with SCKC.
Another outstanding kayaker, Terry Kent, joined SCKC in 1990. He had been an Olympian in 1984 and 1988 and silver medallist in the K2 event at the World Championship. He won an Olympic berth again in 1992. Unfortunately for the club Terry was only a member for a few years before moving on to become the Executive Director of the USACK for several years.
The Johnson Family
In 1989 Carol Johnson became the first Chair of the newly formed Sprint Racing Committee and husband, David, became club Treasurer. Carol was very energetic and well organized and under her leadership the parents became a vital part of club activities. Her work was the foundation for a tradition of active parent involvement. In 1994 David, along with Ken Malloch, formed the Northwest Canoe/Kayak Racing Foundation to support club activities. This organization raised funds to purchase several racing boats and a coach’s launch and motor. David also served as director for the 1995 Fresca National Championships and again in 1998 the Eddie Bauer Nationals, both held on Green Lake. These were two of the best organized nationals in the history of the regatta. In the 1990’s David became active in national administration as well as local canoeing activities. He served as Chief Official for several other National Championships and for the Olympic Trials and served on the USACK Sprint Racing Committee. Both the Johnson children, Nate and Brea, became active paddlers in the youth program.
Nate’s first introduction to sprint canoeing came in 1989 when Dan Henderson came to his 6th grade gym class and told him that he could go to the Olympics. That evening Nate went home and informed his parents that he was joining the Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club and that he was going to the Olympic Games. His parents didn’t believe him, but quickly found themselves driving him to practice before and after school. His dedication paid dividends early on. At his first National Championships in 1990, he established himself as one of the best age group paddlers in the nation. By 1993 he was the top Junior canoeist in the nation and earned a position on the Junior World Championship team that traveled to the Czech Republic. He competed in the C-2 500m and 1000m with partner Vaclav Batlik. Nate also had the honor of competing in the 1998 World Cup, the 1999 Pan-American Games and the 2004 World Cup. However, Nate is most proud of competing in the 2004 Olympic Games with doubles partner Jordan Malloch in the C-2 500m and 1000m. With a competitive career spanning 16 years Johnson describes his life as an athlete as “the job that pays nothing an hour,” though he says this with a smile because through the Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club he was able to have truly unique experiences beyond anything he could have imagined back when he began in 1989.
The Fort Family
In 1989, fourteen year old Meredith Fort was looking for a water sport and signed up in the youth program of the Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club. In her first year she placed 6th in the K1 and 3rd in the K4 at the nationals. When she brought her medals home and showed them to her little brother, Dave, he decided to follow in her footsteps. Dave started canoeing in the spring of 1990 and at his first nationals in 1991 won seven medals. With two of his kids involved and successfully competing father Bill began investing his time as well and became treasurer of the club. Bill also spent hours and hours on the water in the launch helping the coaches. For his efforts he was selected as the Volunteer of the Year for 1991.
After a few years Bill and Meredith reduced their involvement but Dave continued and won both the singles and doubles in one or another of the youth divisions at the nationals for the next five years. With partner Jordan Malloch, Dave qualified for three Junior World Championship Teams (coached by Warren Edwards also a SCKC member). They became the first American canoeists to qualify for finals at a Junior Worlds. In 1997 Dave and Jordan competed in their first Senior Worlds and made it to the semi-finals in the C2. In 1998, his final year of serious training, Dave won the C1 500m at the nationals. After two years away from the sport Dave returned to SCKC in 2001 as a coach. Since he became one of the coaches SCKC has won the nationals three times and placed second twice. During this time Dave coached the Junior World Championship team in Curitiba, Brazil in 2001 and the Pan American team in Rio de Janeiro in 2007. He also served as regional representative for the USACK Sprint Racing Committee from 2001-2008 and with the USACK Sprint Selection Committee from 2004-present. Dave stepped down as coach in 2008 but has remained active in the club as a member of the Advisory Council and as Vice President.
The Malloch Family
Jordan started in the beginner classes at SCKC in 1992. In 1994 he won two national C2 events with Dave Fort. In 1995 and 1996 under two new coaches, Warren Edwards and Robert Picardo, Jordan and Dave made tremendous progress and raced in the Junior World Championships in Japan and Finland. Jordan says, “these two coaches had a huge effect on my career and helped me realize my potential as a paddler and a person.” Jordan won his first individual National Championship in 1995 in the Junior 1000m. In 1997 he started competing as a senior and in 1998 he and Dave Fort won both the 500m and 1000m C2 events at the nationals which were held in Seattle that year. In 1999 the U.S. hired a new national canoeing coach, Marek Plock, who enabled Jordan to go much faster and teamed him with Nate Johnson. From this time on Jordan and Nate dominated the canoeing events at the National Championships. For several years Jordan won all eight races he entered at the national regatta. His greatest honor to date was his selection to the 2000 Olympic team. In Sydney he competed in both the C1 500m and 1000m establishing a new U.S. record in the 1000m. In 2001 he competed in the World Championships in Poznan, Poland and in 2002 in Seville, Spain. In Seville he beat his own U.S. record in the 1000m. In Szeged, Hungary the next year he was the first American to go under 4 min. in the 1000m and in the Worlds in Gainsville, Georgia he established the U.S. record in the 500m. Jordan was selected for his second Olympic team in 2004 and competed in the C2 events in Greece with partner Nate Johnson. Jordan is in his second year as President of SCKC at the time of writing.
1993 was the most successful year to date for SCKC in spite of the fact that Dan Henderson, the head coach, was gone for most of the competitive season. Dan was honored by being named as coach of the Junior National Team and spent the late spring and summer in Lake Placid, NY at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. During this time, he also took the U.S. team to the Junior World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic. Eric Hughes took over as acting head coach assisted by former SCKC paddler and national champion, Erin Trent.
In Indianapolis, SCKC won both the Bantam and Juvenile Divisions and placed second in the Junior Division. For the first time, Seattle won the Black Anvil Trophy symbolic of the overall youth National Championship (combined Bantam, Juvenile and Junior Divisions). Over all, combining youth and seniors, Seattle placed third, also its highest finish ever. Seventeen boats won individual event championships. Twelve SCKC Members were named to either the national senior or junior teams. The Seniors: Greg Barton, Terry Kent, Mark Zollitch, Dawn-Marie Scherrer and Nate Johnson. Juniors: Mike Gilbrough, Peter Kogan, Juraj Osusky, Liz Churchill, Olivia White, Jordan Malloch and Dave Fort
The rapid rise of SCKC in the national standings, from the inception of the youth sprint racing team in 1989 was due in large part to tremendous effort and ability on the part of Dan Henderson, the head coach. Dan not only pushed himself to the limit, but also the paddlers and parents who were asked to shoulder much of the work. Friction is bound to occur in such a high level program involving many different personalities. In 1994 serious conflict surfaced and Dan resigned, eventually starting his own program, the Cascade Canoe and Kayak Team, in Renton. Fortunately, a base had been established by Dan, with many individuals paddling at an expert level so SCKC continued to be one of the better clubs in the country even though very few new people came into the program for several years. Warren and Carrie Edwards and Dawn Marie Scherer, three club members, shared the duties of head coach for the remainder of the year.
From 1994 to 1998 the coaching duties were passed from one person to another. The lack of continuity was very damaging to the team even though all of the coaches were well qualified individually. Others serving, as well as Warren, Carrie and Dawn Marie were Robert Picardo, Jason Hokaj, David Halpern, Maylon Hanold, Kathy Colin and Juraj Osusky. Much credit needs to be given to Warren Edwards as during this time he provided direction and held the youth team together. As a graduate student at the University of Washington he had limited time but was always available for advice. Finally, Chris Henderson was hired as head coach and for many years following he gave continuity and stability to the coaching position.
In 1994 SCKC again placed third at the nationals as a team, winning both the Juvenile and Junior Divisions. Ten boats won individual championships. After the nationals, ten SCKC members were named to the national team: Seniors: Kathy Colin, Nate Gwynne, Nate Johnson, Olivia White, Mark Zollitsch, Nate Johnson and Dave Fort. Juniors: Jordan Malloch, Chad Nichols and Leanne Wood.
After 22 years the nationals returned to Green Lake in 1995. In 1973 Ted Houk had been a committee of one in the organization of the regatta. He was the only person in Seattle with the knowledge and experience to take on the task. In 1995 three parents of Seattle youth paddlers, David Johnson, Ken Malloch and Larry Lorenz were the “big three” of the planning committee. These three men had little experience in sprint canoeing and kayaking but had the personal organizational qualities and desire to make the event a great success, which it was. Coaches and athletes who had been involved in the sport for years said it was the best run regatta they could remember. The main sponsor of the regatta was the Fresca Company so there was plenty of their product available to keep everyone hydrated.
For the third year in a row Seattle placed third in the team standings and won the overall youth championship due to outstanding results in the Junior Division where they scored more points than the combined points of all other teams. In the adult Divisions Seattle was third behind Hawaii and the Newport Aquatic Center in California. Although Seattle had already been declared a “Center of Excellence” by USACK this was the event that proved SCKC had matured as a club and was ready to assume a leading role among the other established clubs in the country. It was a great team effort as there were many more second and third places finishes than firsts, however eleven Seattle boats won individual event championships. National champions were: Ryan Lorenz, Chad Nichols, Kyle Quint, Casey Schau, Jordan Malloch, Dave Fort, Henry Lee and Nate Johnson. Jordan Malloch and Dave Fort were selected to the Junior World Championship Team which competed in Yamanashi, Japan. They became the first U.S. Junior canoeists to qualify for the finals, qualifying for the C-2 1000m and finishing 8th. Malloch also qualified for the finals in the C-1 500m, finishing 9th. Warren Edwards was selected as coach for the team, a well deserved honor as he had been largely responsible for the development of Jordan and Dave into top paddlers.
For several years, adult marathon racing activity in the club had been declining. There were several reasons for this. First, many former members had purchased canoes and no longer needed to come to Green Lake to use club boats. Second, the number of communities sponsoring marathon races had been declining for years. Finally, newly formed outrigger canoe clubs began to take paddlers away from marathon racing. What goes around comes around. The SCKC started as an Olympic Sprint racing club then placed an emphasis on marathon paddling for many years had shifted back to sprint racing once again.
In 1996 the National Championships were held at Disney World in Florida. Because of the high cost of transportation and housing the club did not organize an official team trip as in the previous seven years. Several members, however, entered on their own so Seattle had a small representation at the regatta. Four SCKC members were selected to participate in the 1996 World Junior Championships: Jordan Malloch, Dave Fort, Tamara Jenkins and Leanne Wood. Warren Edwards again served as coach. Tamara and Leanne’s K4 placed fifth. Jordan and Dave were fifth in the C2 1000m and sixth in the C2 500m.
Chris started paddling in Hawaii at 12 years of age. He finished as high as second in the state several times as he was growing up and also paddled on a championship outrigger team. Chris came to Seattle as a student at the University of Washington in 1993 and also coached the Seattle Outrigger Club. In 1998 he was hired as assistant coach for SCKC, was appointed head coach a year later and served in that capacity until 2008, longer than any coach to date. The club had had many short term head coaches in the previous few years and had been declining. Chris gave stability to the coaching position and the club flourished under his leadership winning three National Championships. He also developed many individual national champions in all age groups.
David Halpern started paddling in a whitewater program at Lakeside School in Seattle in 1973. After graduating from Brown University, he returned to Seattle to begin a career in writing and teaching. Realizing he would not be able to get to a river very often for whitewater, he decided to start flatwater paddling. David had ranked in the top 10 nationally in whitewater for several years. In his debut in Olympic flatwater racing, he surprised the sports world by winning six medals (four gold and two silver) at the 1981 U.S. Olympic Sports Festival, more medals than any athlete from any sport in the history of the Festival. He was selected to the National Team from 1981-1985. During this time he won 12 National Championships, earned a berth on the 1984 Olympic Team and competed in the K2 M 500m in Los Angeles. After being away from serious flatwater paddling for many years, he returned to SCKC as coach of the youth sprint team in 1997 and 1998. In 2001 David formed a masters team similar to the youth team. This became his passion and he devoted many hours as coach of this group which increased in number each year. He continued to paddle with his team and won many national medals in his age group. David now lives on San Juan Island and has developed a club there. He coaches both adult and youth groups in flatwater and outrigger paddling.
In 1997 the nationals were held on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia, on the 1996 Olympic Course. Undoubtedly, this was the best course with the best facilities of any previous nationals. The local club from Lake Lanier was well established with much parent support and hosted a great regatta. SCKC sent 25 athletes. With the exception of 1996 when Seattle did not send a complete team to the nationals at Disney World this turned out to be the poorest showing for SCKC. The youth team placed 7th and picked up only one point in the Bantam division. By this time, however, some of our former youth paddlers had moved into the senior ranks so Seattle placed third in the adult category. In the overall point standings Seattle finished 7th. Nine boats, seven seniors and one juvenile, won National Championships.
Because of their showing at these nationals six SCKC paddlers were named to the 14 person Senior World Game team that competed in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. It was remarkable for one club to provide almost half of the U.S. national team. Further, it showed how strong the past youth program had been to produce so many senior champions. The six athletes were Tamara Jenkins, Kathy Colin, Juraj Osusky, Nate Johnson, Jordan Malloch and Dave Fort. Five of the six had started out as young athletes paddling at Green Lake. The sixth, Kathy Colin, was one of the coaches and a University of Washington student.
In 1998 the nationals returned to Green Lake with Eddie Bauer as the main sponsor.
In 1999 six person outrigger events were added to the Ted Houk Memorial Regatta. These 200m races were for corporate sponsored teams of inexperienced employee paddlers and were held as a fund raiser for both SCKC and the Boyer Children’s Clinic.
The nationals were held in Lake Placid, New York in 1999. In spite of a poor overall team performance, several outstanding senior athletes: Kathy Colin, Tamara Jenkins, Jordan Malloch and Nate Johnson were selected to the U.S. senior team for the World Championships in Poznan, Poland.
In 2000 the National Championships were again held on Lake Lanier in Georgia. As a team, SCKC placed 5th in the youth division, 3rd in the senior division and 4th overall. Lizzie Resta, Tashi Green, Lauren Austin and Breezy Griffith won the Bantam K4 while Nate Johnson and Jordan Malloch won six senior canoeing events between them. Otherwise it was a bad year for individual champions. 2000 was also an Olympic year, and remarkably three of SCKC’s athletes qualified to compete in the games in Sydney, Australia. In fact, the entire U.S. Olympic men’s canoe and women’s kayak team were from our club. Olympians were: Jordan Malloch and Tamara Jenkins, Seattle natives who got their start on Green Lake and, Kathy Colin, a former SCKC coach and University of Washington student. In addition, Quincy Castro was the top ranked junior kayaker in the country based on his performance at the team trials and the nationals.
The year 2001 was definitely one to remember in the history of SCKC. It started with an earthquake and ended with an equally exciting National Championship - the first ever for Seattle. The quake was the strongest in the last 50 years and did considerable damage to the Green Lake Small Craft Center. Fortunately, the canoe club boat house was not significantly damaged and after a few weeks of mandatory boat house closure our program was allowed to resume.
An important addition was made to the instructional program in the spring of 2001. Schools were approached to take part in an after school canoe/kayak program financed through a Parks bond issue that provided funds for middle schools to participate in a variety of after school activities. Unfortunately, only two schools selected our program, but this was a start. At the end of the year a regatta was held between the two schools. Thus another of Ted Houk’s original dreams for the club had materialized in a very small way - “a little league of water sports”. This program continued for several years until Parks funding was terminated.
The National Championship regatta in 2001 was held in Sacramento, California on Lake Natoma. The club set a goal at the beginning of the year to win the National Championship and the Yonkers Trophy that is awarded to the overall point winner. Seattle had in several previous years won one or more of the youth divisions, but had never finished higher than 3rd in the overall point standings. Seattle reached its goal by winning the overall point trophy and also the Bantam and Senior trophies. In fact, the club won the senior trophy by such a convincing margin that it more than doubled the point total of the second place team. 31 paddlers, 15 youth and 16 adults, took part in the regatta. It was a real team effort, with 26 of the 31 paddlers scoring team points (first through fifth position). The team earned 51 gold, 27 silver and 13 bronze medals and 28 Seattle boats won a National Championship. The top five teams in the regatta were:
Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club - 421.75 points
Lanier CKC – 372.50
San Diego CKT - 268.25
Hilltop Hoppers (NY) – 210.00
Washington (DC) Canoe Club - 122.25
Some of the highlights of the regatta were: Jordan Malloch won all eight races he entered and tied for high individual point champion. Lizzie Resta won six races and Lauren Austin, Kathy Colin, Nate Johnson and Mark Parrish five each. Two paddlers from Canada with U.S. citizenship, Kari-Jean McKenzie and Dion Maxwell, competed for Seattle in this regatta and both won races.
Based on their finish at the nationals, Kathy Colin, Nate Johnson, Jordan Malloch, Leanne Wood and Dave Fort all qualified for the Senior World Championships in Poznan, Poland. Fort declined his spot to help coach the Junior World Championships in Curitiba, Brazil. Aasim Saleh was also selected for the Junior Resident Program at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid.
The participants at the National Championships were honored by the Seattle City Council in a very impressive ceremony shortly after returning home as team champions. Team members and coaches were presented with a “Certificate of Achievement” in recognition of outstanding performance as representatives of Seattle. The certificates were signed by Margaret Pageler, President of the City Council, and Mayor Paul Schell.
In 2002 Seattle had another excellent year placing second in the nationals behind Lake Lanier the hosts for the championships. Lanier had 99 participants Seattle only 31: 18 adults and 13 youth. SCKC won the adult division by a wide margin but was only fourth in the youth division, scoring just two points in the youngest age group. This was bad news for Seattle. New young paddlers would have to be recruited for future success. Seattle won a total of 46 gold medals in the regatta (excluding the Masters Division), far exceeding any previous year's results, but couldn’t match the team depth of the Lake Lanier Club. Ruth Nortje, a 2000 Olympian, joined the Seattle team in 2002. She had competed in previous nationals as an unattached entry. Ruth won all eight events she entered. Even more important than the points she scored for Seattle was that she served as an excellent role model. Her enthusiasm, energy and spirit set a great example for our younger paddlers. Other gold medal winners for Seattle (excluding the Masters Division) were: Jordan Malloch who won seven golds and one silver; Nate Johnson with six; Lizzie Resta, Lauren Austen and Mark Parrish with four each; Breezy Griffith, Megan Palmer, Kali Green, Dave Fort and Chris Henderson with three each; Kari-Jean McKenzie with two; and Tashi Green, Greg Barton, Juraj Osusky and Aaron Scull with one each. One of the highlights of the regatta was Seattle sweeping the Senior C1 500m event with Jordan first, Nate second and Dave Fort third.
Another real bright spot in 2002 was the excellent performance of Coach David Halpern's masters group. Formed only about one year earlier and composed almost entirely of paddlers in their first nationals they placed third as a team. Without their points Seattle would have dropped to third overall. Every master paddler won at least one event. David himself won six golds, the most earned by anyone in the Masters Division.
Earlier in the summer 10 SCKC members competed in the National Team Trials in Chula Vista, CA. From this group Lauren Austin, Lizzie Resta and Aasim Saleh qualified for the National Junior Team that toured Europe and competed in a major international regatta in Bochem, Germany. Ruth Nortje, Kathy Colin, Jordan Malloch and Nate Johnson qualified for the Senior World Championships in Seville, Spain. Juraj Osusky qualified for the Pan-Am team.
In 2003 SCKC had hopes of winning the National Championships again. The regatta was in Oakland which seemed to be an advantage for Seattle. Despite an excellent showing in all adult divisions Seattle finished second to Lanier in overall points. David Halpern’s masters dominated and Jordan Malloch and Nate Johnson between them won all the senior canoe events. However, the youth team was again out pointed by a very strong Lake Lanier team. One of the strong youth performances included the K4 of Lauren Austin, Lizzie Resta, Tashi Green and Breezy Grithith. The self titled “four amigos,” Noah Skartvedt, Alden Keefe-Sampson, Chris Koressel and Ted Wirsching earned multiple medals in the youth canoeing events. Lauren Austin and Lizzie Resta qualified for the Junior World Championship team and Malloch and Johnson competed in the Senior World Championships in their final international tune-up for the Olympic Games the next year.
In 2004 the focus was on the Olympic Games in Athens. There was a chance that Jordan Malloch and Nate Johnson could qualify - Jordan in the C1 1000m and as partners in the C2 500m and C2 1000m. Jordan fell a bit short in the C1 1000m, but in the C2 they made it and Dave Fort was asked to coach them. Prior to the Olympics they had significant success in Europe including a bronze medal in a world cup regatta. At the Olympics they made the semi-finals but missed the finals at both distances.
At the National Championships on Lake Lanier, Georgia, Seattle had a relatively small turnout. Many seniors chose not to make the trip including Malloch and Johnson. The youth team did very well including gold medals from Lauren Austin, Lizzie Resta, Alden Keefe-Sampson, Peter Metzger, Megan Palmer and Amina Saleh. Seattle earned third place over all. Austin and Resta qualified for the European tour team. Seattle’s new local rival, Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team, made their first appearance at these nationals.
In 2005 the nationals returned to Green Lake. With home lake advantage Seattle had its strongest showing ever. SCKC won the Thomas Horton trophy for Juvenile total points, the Washington Canoe Club trophy for total adult points (masters, seniors and intermediate) and the Yonkers trophy for total team points in the regatta. Alden Keefe-Sampson, Chris Koressel, Noah Skartvedt and Sam Wyckoff swept the Juvenile canoeing events and Nick Toering and Peter Metzger won multiple medals in the kayak races. Jordan Malloch, as usual, dominated the senior canoeing events and Juraj Osusky and Eric Moll had some outstanding performances in the senior kayak races. Women’s kayak was led by Lauren Austin and Kari McKenzie and women’s canoe by Megan Palmer and Amina Saleh. Jordan Malloch, Lauren Austin and Kari McKenzie all qualified for the World Championship team.
In 2006, realizing a need to invest in SCKC’s future, the club hired Aasim Saleh who had been coaching in Gig Harbor. He and Alan Anderson had developed a dominant Bantam team there. Chris Henderson and Dave Fort continued as co-head coaches and Aasim was installed as development coach. At the nationals on Lake Lanier in Georgia Seattle did not win any trophies but managed to finish second as a team in the combined youth divisions and third as a team in the regatta combining youth and adult points. Jordan Malloch dominated in the senior canoeing events yet again. Peter Metzger qualified for the junior national team and competed in the K4 in Europe. Lauren Austin and Kari McKenzie moved to The Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista to train with the national team.
2007 undoubtedly replaced 2005 as the club's most successful year in history. To start the season the junior team had a very strong showing at the national team trials. Both Alden Keefe-Sampson and Peter Metzger won all their single races and qualified to represent the U.S. in Racice, Czech Republic at the Junior World Championships. The C2 of Chris Koressel and Noah Skartvedt just missed qualifying. Lauren Austin qualified for the Pan-Am team and raced in the K2 and K4 in Rio de Janeiro. Dave Fort was selected as head coach for this team. Jordan Malloch had his best international year to date placing well in several European regattas. The National Championships on Green Lake were a huge success and showcased the growth of SCKC as a club. Being the year prior to the Olympics all the top athletes attended the regatta. Seattle won the Bamtam, Junior, Masters, Intermediate and Senior Divisions and finished third in the Juvenile Division in spite of having only three juvenile paddlers. Peter Metzger won all of his events, Daphne Austin won the Bantam K1 1000m and Jeff Cayton finished second in the Bantam K1, K2 and K4. The Bantam girls including Austin, Mia Overton, Bailey Nurmia and Evelyn Brown won many medals. The Junior boy canoeists (Keefe-Sampson, Koressel, Skartvedt, Wyckoff) dominated their races. Senior women kayakers were led by Kari McKenzie, Lauren Austin and Anne Browning; senior men kayakers by Juraj Osusky; senior women canoeists by Megan Palmer and Amina Saleh; and senior men canoeists by Jordan Malloch and Dave Fort. Seattle amassed more points than in any previous nationals and won more trophies than ever before – including the Columbia-Murphy Bantam, the Black Anvil Junior, the Washington Canoe Club (for combined masters, senior and intermediate adults) and the Yonkers trophy for total over all points in the regatta.
In 2008 the club was at its strongest point following an impressive nationals the previous year. Aasim Saleh was given increased coaching responsibilities because the two co-head coaches, Chris Henderson and Dave Fort, were over loaded with work and family commitments.
A history of the club would not be complete without listing the people who have been primarily responsible for keeping it going – PRESIDENTS, HEAD COACHES, TEACHERS, VOLUNTEERS and ATHLETES who receive the annual awards for outstanding performance at the end of each year.
1969-1970 Ben Dotson
1971-1973 Ted Houk
1974 Imre Szupkay
1975 -1976 Randy Morton
1977 Lynda Griffith
1978 Keith Brainerd
1979 Rick Colella
1980 Bob Jacques
1981 Eric Hughes & Dave Poulson
1982 Dave Rynberg
1983 John Robinson
1984 Jim Stacey 1985-1987 Eric Hughes
1988-1990 Noel Gilbrough
1991-1993 Neil Bransfield
1994 Gary Wright
1995-1996 Mac Dunston
1997-1998 Luis Buen-Abad
1999-2000 Doug Nichols
2001-2004 Ken Malloch
2005-2007 David Bobanick
2008 Juhani Nurmia
2009-2010 Jordan Malloch
2015-2016 Steven Wort
1966-1973 Imre Szupkay & Ted Houk
1989-1992 Dan Henderson
1993 Dan Henderson and Eric Hughes
1994 Warren Edwards, Carrie Edwards, Dawn Marie Scherer
1995 Warren Edwards and Robert Picardo 1996 Warren Edwards, Robert Picardo, Jason Hokaj
1997 David Halpern and Maylon Hanold
1998 Juraj Osusky
1999-2000 Chris Henderson
2001-2008 Chris Henderson and Dave Fort
2009-2010 Aasim Saleh
2011-2015 Neil Bransfield
2017- Doug Ritchie
REGULAR TEACHERS (Many others have taught occasional classes)
1. Eric Hughes
2. Mike McLean
3. Mark Parrish
4. Noel and Cindy Gilbrough
5. Ann Winter
6. Becky Herbig
7. Karin Reddecliffe
8. Larry and Nancy Lewis
9. Louis Buen-Abad 10. Rain Gilman
11. Eva Osusky
12. Neil Bransfield
13. Dave Fort
14. Chris Henderson
15. Steve Bennett
16. Amina Saleh
17. Aasim Saleh
18. Angela Wang
19. Henry Hilt
Since the beginning in 1969, there have been several hundred people who have volunteered their time for club activities. As in all clubs, some do more than others. This list is not intended to be complete but includes those who have given the most time. An apology to those who may have been omitted.
1. Ted Houk and Ted Houk Jr
2. Imre Szupkay
3. Eric Hughes
4. Dave and Carol Johnson
5. Ken Malloch
6. Larry Lorenz
7. Mark Parrish
8. Justine Barton
9. Noel and Cindy Gilbrough
10. Gary and Robin Wright
11. Bill Fort
12. Alicia Van Buskirk 13. Linda Luebke
14. David Austin
15. Susan Jamieson
16. Ann Austin
17. David Halpern
18. Gary Teale
19. Bob Resta
20. Mike Wirsching
21. Marilyn Hoppe
22. David Bobanick
23. Mike Etrick
24. Juhani Nurmia
1984 David Halpern and Greg Barton
1988 Greg Barton
1992 Greg Barton
2000 Kathy Colin, Tamara Jenkins & Jordan Malloch
2004 Nate Johnson and Jordan Malloch
See Awards Page for the list of Annual Awards