This Saturday the sporty spotlight shines bright on twenty-two year old kayaker and skydiver, Samantha Brunner. Check out Samantha’s interview below where she shares what it’s like to compete in kayaking, how she balances school and sports, and much, much more.
Sport(s): Pro whitewater kayaker, but I also skydive and like most outdoor sports
Hometown: Memphis, TN
High School/Middle School/College: I am currently a student on full scholarship at the University of Memphis. I graduate in May with a bachelors in Exercise Sport Science, then its off to Physical Therapy school
How many years have you been kayaking? I have been paddling for about 6 years.
What was your fave sporty moment or memory?
The first time I ran a creek that I had to fully memorize. The small creek was so consistent that I had to remember all of the lines because there was no time to stop in between rapids. This made me learn to trust and rely on myself.
To trust myself. Kayaking, for me, is all about pushing your physical and mental limits and learning to trust yourself. Only you can truly know what you are capable of, nobody else can tell you that. Kayaking is a way in which I learn what I am capable of; it helps me become a more independent person and puts a lot of life’s experiences into perspective.
What lessons have you learned about work ethic from your sport?
Always be a team player. Getting down the river is a group effort. Your friends depend on you to know your skills as much as you depend on them to know theirs. Also, to always be respectful and truthful. Also, kayaking is a pretty poor sport, so you have to learn how to work to make the bigger trips worthwhile and how to do them within a budget. With that being said, I have learned to be able to put a lot of work and preparation into my trips to make them work and be beneficial for both my sponsors and myself.
What have you learned about teamwork?
It is the only way to be successful, you can’t do everything all by yourself. Everyone has something to bring to the table and is better at something than you are. It teaches you when to lead and when to listen.
How do you balance school and sports?
Haha, that’s the hard one. I know that school is more important and I have the rest of my life to kayak. Being in Memphis makes me a weekend warrior when it comes to kayaking. I plan my major trips around my breaks in school.
List the sponsors that you currently have:
Pretty Tough, Jackson Kayaks, Stohlquist Waterware, Keen Footwear, Kavu Clothing, SnapDragon Sprayskirts, Gaia Paddlesports, Grateful Heads Helmets, Freestyle Watches, H2O Audio, Zeal Optics, Colorado Kayak Supply
How do you plan to use your sport to influence others?
When I get out of Physical Therapy school I plan to start a non-profit, whitewater kayaking camp to fight childhood obesity and eating disorders. I find that kayaking is not only enjoyable; it can be a great motivator to get into shape. I want to show how fun kayaking can be and I think that when one is having fun it is easier to be motivated to stay active.
What’s the girliest thing you like to do? (Pretty Tough signature question)
Haha, I think it would be to dress up. So much of what I do requires pants and flats or sneakers (not that I’m complaining) so when I have a chance to have a date night with my boyfriend, which comes once every few months haha, I like to dress up. I’m usually “one of the guys” so this helps remind me that I’m not always. Also, I kayak in waterproof mascara which makes me pretty girlie ;)
Thanks, Samantha! Best of luck with your amazing career.
Do you or someone you know want to be spotlighted? Send an email to Keri Mikulski at kerimikulski(at)gmail(dot)com.