If you have not heard of young kayaker Zoe Ross yet–you may in the future. She is a 15 year old girl from Athens,TN who fell in love with whitewater kayaking. Her 9th grade year, Zoe had the opportunity to attend the New River Academy (NRA). NRA is a co-ed secondary school, offering accredited college-preparatory courses, with an extra-curricular focus on whitewater kayaking.
What an opportunity to attend a school in which you are surrounded by like-minded students and passionate teachers–and pursue your passion for kayaking. Zoe’s year at the NRA was such a rewarding educational experience that her family’s financial constraints have not slowed her dream down of returning to NRA.
Rather than pout about her parents “not letting her go to kayak school,” she decided to take it upon herself to raise the tuition money needed to return for another year. She has had the help of good friends and well-wishers. TeamZoe was created. A now-sold-out t-shirt was designed. Marlo Tollett Wright donated a painting to be auctioned off. And with each project, Zoe comes closer to her goal.
Zoe caught our attention when we started hearing through fellow kayakers about how enthusiastic she is about paddling, and how supportive she is of other boaters on the river—many much older than she. We thought it was time to learn a little bit more about this little kayaker with big dreams!
So Zoe, what got you into kayaking?
– I have gone swimming at the Tellico with my friends and family almost every summer. One day, when I was around 8, we were swimming at Baby Falls and I saw some female kayakers run it in kayaks. It amazed me, and I told my dad that I wanted to do that one day. A few years later, when I was 14, I got in a kayak for the first time and that’s how it all started.
What is your favorite aspect of kayaking?
– If I’m sad, as soon as I get on the river and start paddling, it seems all of my problems go away and I’m in my own little world.
What about some goals for kayaking? Where would you like to paddle/rivers would you like to do?
– I want to paddle the Green River Narrows and later, race it.
You are embarking on a fund-raising project. What is it for?
-It is to help me return to New River Academy, a fully accredited, traveling, and kayaking high school, that my family can no longer afford for me to attend.
What do you need to achieve your goals for this?
-Any kind of donation or support.
We wish Zoe all the luck in the world reaching what we know will be the first of many goals she reaches. If you want to keep up with Zoe’s endeavors, keep up with her on her TeamZoe Facebook page!