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Stephen Wright Signs with New River Academy

What if you were assigned the task to produce the world’s best junior kayak high school both academically and athletically?  What characteristics would you want to teach and model? More importantly, whom would you hire for the task?  Freestyle kayaking’s world bronze medalist Stephen Wright tops the list.  The Jackson Kayak ambassador has a string of sponsors and medals that equal his junior kayak coaching successes.  Commendably, Stephen has been the head coach at the world’s most successful youth kayak program, Ottawa Kayak School’s Keeners.


High school directors David Hughes and Matt Smink discussed the goals of the New River Academy athletic program and the decision to hire Stephen Wright was a no-brainer, but would he do it?  Hughes and Smink certainly realize the program is demanding of staff and pro-athletes have equally intense schedules.  Thus, the admin team decided to work with Wright’s schedule and offered the opportunity to coach at their international riverside Pucón, Chile base for a single quarter.  Wright will further develop the coaching program and offer spot coaching as schedule allows.


New River Academy director David Hughes states, “Yes, most realize Stephen is the best of the best when it comes to coaching.  More importantly you should understand Stephen brings presence of character to the program.  He’s a role model that has an energy that inspires his colleagues, students respect and understand his clear position within a program that has maintained a tough stance on discipline issues. Stephen exemplifies our motto, ‘and that has made all the difference.’”


About Stephen Wright’ Teaching Philosophy

Wright believes kids need structure modeled and taught by responsible adults.  As an active athlete he personally discovered kayaking provided the single most fun activity in his life.  In effect the students and Wright share a common passion making it easy to connect and inspire kids.  Wright asserts that progressing in kayaking translates to various life skills and ultimately one’s own self-content.  What more could a parent or teen ask than to find self-contentment via a shared passion?   Wright is on to something.


“My coaching style focuses on learning fundamental skills that allow kayakers to progress daily.  Those foundations become transferrable to advanced skills in as many creative ways as possible.” – Stephen Wright


As per coaching goals Coach Wright focuses on individual attention and student accomplishments.  “Each student should continue to progress and in the course become more passionate for the river and kayak skills.  I enjoy working with teens.  They’re energetic, fearless and willing to try things that adults would not.” Wright explains.


Wright believes New River Academy has created a positive and ideal work environment.

“I’ve met and respect the (New River Academy) staff as a positive team.  The program has established proven systems developed in a fashion that helps students to succeed academically and walk away with a strong athletic drive and desire to improve as kayakers.  They’re training and retaining great instructors.”


Stephen Wright’s Invitation

“Students and parents I’d like to personally invite you to be a part of the New River Academy and be coached by myself.  We’re going to experience a lot of fun and the adventure of a lifetime.”- Coach Stephen Wright


Wright will have his work cut out for him as Huge Experiences/New River Academy has produced champions for ten years.

Past Huge Experiences/New River Academy Athletic Accomplishments

Pat Keller (Runner-up World Champ, Green Race Champ)

Casey Eichfeld/Ricky Powell, (C-2) US Olympians

Emily Jackson- 2x World Champ

Jason Craig- World Champ

Ali Wade- Runner-up World Champ, World Cup Champ

Isaac Levinson- Green Race Runner-up Champ

Michael Quinif- World Cup Champ

Todd Baker- World Bronze

National Champs from:  Africa, New Zealand, Canada, and the USA