Not an Athlete
Born and raised in inland North Carolina, April “found” paddling for the first time in 2011 while completing her Master’s of Science in Deep Sea Coral Reef Ecology at The University of North Carolina - Wilmington. She had previously worked as a seahorse breeder and received her undergraduate degrees in Marine Biology and Environmental Science. While she didn’t love the world of academia, it was clear that an ocean-oriented career was definitely in the cards for her. Her love for paddling was swift – entering a SUP race mere weeks after hopping on a board for the first time. Her success in the sport, however, was less swift, and she didn’t finish that first race she entered. But, that didn’t deter her one bit - after another year of practice she went back to that first course - not only did she finish the race, she placed second.
By 2014 she was completely hooked on paddle sports, competing in many SUP races on the east coast (and winning quite a few of those). Around the same time she also began working at a local paddle company and dedicated her life to the sport.
April wasn’t always an athlete. She didn’t find her love for sport and fitness until well into adulthood, and had spent many of her teen and early-20’s leading a downright UNhealthy lifestyle. The sport, and the people she met through it, are what inspired her to make substantive changes to her life.
Going All In
Her first real notable success in the sport came after signing with Hobie and Salt Life to compete on the European race tour in 2016. After a move to California in 2017, she committed herself entirely to training, and began her coaching business, hoping to help others who shared her love for the water.
From 2018 to 2019 April shifted her training focus from high intensity days on the water, and began emphasizing recovery, aerobic base work, and nutrition. The shift worked: in 2018-2019 she won Gold at Pan American Surfing Games; placed 2nd at the Carolina Cup, Women's Graveyard SUP 2019; was the 2019 Gorge Downwind OC1 Women's Champion; placed 1st at Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge, Women's Technical race; was the New York SUP Open Overall Women's Champion. And finally, she was the APP World Tour, World Vice-Champion 2019.
Training came in puzzle-like pieces for April. Some years she used more than others, trying different combinations of work and training and recovery until the whole picture started coming together and the successes started rolling in. She says, “Every time I fall short, I find a way I can improve and I see where it may all just work out in the end - if I focus and work hard enough.” Her discipline is nearly bar-none. If there is an area of herself she can work on, she goes out and does it with ferocity.
While she has had many accomplishments on the water in recent years, she feels her biggest and most important achievements can’t be 100% attributed to on the water training. “Training” is so much more than working out. April preaches intentionality above all else - she applies it in her own training and is one of the first lessons she teaches as a coach. It can be so easy to fall into the ‘all or nothing’ fallacy, but if April has learned anything these past five years, it’s that the little things add up and small actions pay dividends. When faced with the choice to skip a workout in favor of doubling up the next day because she’s short on time, April says she’d rather do air squats while cooking dinner; it's the daily discipline that matters most.
Bumps in the Road
April has overcome massive training obstacles on her way to becoming the world’s vice-champion of stand up paddling. Among these were a severe case of Aerobic Deficiency Syndrome and Overtraining. Turns out, she is far from alone. In addition to learning everything she can about paddling technique - stroke mechanics, which equipment works best and why, surfing technique, she is also well versed in all things training physiology. She is largely self-taught (and if you’re ever curious about how she got started, she can recommend a book... or twelve) bringing the same vigor she used to obtain her Master's of Science to reach her paddling goals. Her knowledge of exercise science & physiology and nutrition is 10 years in the making, and she has helped many others correct cases of Aerobic Deficiency Syndrome to lead healthier lives while improving their paddle abilities (partly by convincing people that more food during a training cycle is almost never a bad thing!). In addition, she’s a certified instructor through both the American Canoe Association and World Paddle Association.
Putting it All Together
She still has some lofty goals she’s chasing - both on and off the water. Through three pillars of focus: Athlete, Author, and Activist, April has a deep desire to help other athletes achieve their dreams, too.
She is more than sympathetic to the full-time grind lifestyle, and if you’ve ever felt frustrated by lack of progress she can 100% relate.
Whether you’re new to the paddle-sport world or you’re looking to break into that upper echelon of athletes, April can help you make it a reality. There isn’t one right area of training to focus on - training, recovery, nutrition, mindset are all equally important, and she has expertise to offer in each of those areas.