Longtime Dagger paddler and Girls At Play founder Anna Levesque has long championed getting more women involved in whitewater. Now, with her latest video “Why We Love Kayaking with Anna Levesque,” as part of The Women in Dagger series, she furthers the cause even more, highlighting her transition from competitive kayaker to leading role in women’s kayaking initiatives. We caught up with her for her take on the project, and the state of women’s kayaking…
View video HERE
PL: How has the women’s movement in kayaking changed since you’ve been involved?
Levesque: When I first started Girls at Play I was the only female kayaker running all women’s clinics and events. Now there are several different women running events and creating groups. It’s great to see so many women leading out on the rivers, especially on the more challenging rivers.
PL: How fun was it to make this video?
Levesque: It was super fun to make this video. The paddling footage was taken during various trips and events over the summer and it reminds me of how grateful I am to be able to live my passion. There are shots from a recent trip down the Grand Canyon – one of my favorite rivers and a magical place. The Ladies Southeast Paddling Series events were a blast and the footage from the Green was shot by Dagger Team Manager Chris Gragtmans who pretty much always makes me laugh on the river. It was also fun to pull up some of those old competition photos.
PL: What message are you trying to get across with it?
Levesque: My intention with this video is to communicate how whitewater kayaking has transformed my life and how it has the power to transform and empower people’s lives. I also hope to communicate the possibility of living your passion – it is a possibility that everyone can create for themselves. If I can do it then others can too.
Why is kayaking such a great sport for women?
Levesque: Kayaking is a great sport for women because it builds confidence through self-reliance, trusting yourself, choosing your own path and facing challenges. I love to witness my students run rapids that they are nervous about and experience success. It’s a game changer. On the other side of that I think it’s very empowering to experience ‘failure’ like swimming out of your kayak and then get back in and keep going, experiencing success downstream. This reminds us that just because we experience failure in life it doesn’t mean that we are a failure. That is a huge distinction for women because we tend to be hard on ourselves.
PL: Where do you see the women’s side of the sport going from here?
Levesque:It seems like the number of women on rivers is growing and there is momentum in paddling events and groups by women for women. There are also more young women pushing the upper limits of the sport and receiving acknowledgement. I think we’ll continue to see more of them. At the grassroots level it’s important to encourage young girls to get out on the water so they have the opportunity to experience the confidence and empowerment. I enjoy seeing more women in our Girls at Play programs and trips.