KOKATAT Ambassador TEAM MEMBER | Whitewater Kayaking

Darby McAdams

Age: 21 years old
HOMETOWN: Missoula, MT

The most valuable thing you can give someone is your time.

Darby grew up in Missoula, Montana, and from a young age was always going on outside adventures with her father. At fourteen her father took her to a local pond with two fiberglass slalom boats that were made by her grandfather in the 1970s. He told her “I bet you can’t beat me if I paddle backwards and you paddle forward”. He was right, but he had struck a competitive nerve and she liked a challenge; one day she wanted to be faster than him head to head. For the next three years, she took every opportunity to paddle at Missoula’s Brennan’s Wave. She even built a bike trailer for her playboat in a high school welding class when her parents got tired of giving her rides to the wave.

Darby playing on the Skookumchuck wave, BC - photo Blake Hornblow
Darby playing on the Skookumchuck wave, BC - photo Blake Hornblow

One of her biggest inspirations in kayaking has been Quinton Barnett, who first taught her how to roll and has been a long time coach and friend. Quinton first told Darby about World Class Kayak Academy, and really encouraged her to go. “He is such a talented kayaker and I always wanted to be as good as him, so I thought World Class would be my ticket.” Darby made WCKA a goal and for three summers worked as a painter for her dad’s small remodel business to save money for tuition. She then spent her senior year with WCKA traveling to ultimate paddling destinations around the world.

Darby navigates on of the drops on the Kliniklini River, BC - photo Maranda Stopol
Darby navigates on of the drops on the Kliniklini River, BC - photo Maranda Stopol

Since graduating high school, Darby has continued to paddle at every opportunity and is making plans for future paddling trips, including spending the first part of 2018 in Africa on the White Nile. Kayaking has taught her many things but she still she considers her best asset to be her small stature and ability to fit in any nook or crany of a shuttle vehicle.

Darby taking in the view on the Jarbridge - photo Nouria Newman
Darby taking in the view on the Jarbridge - photo Nouria Newman

Darby loves the competition aspect of kayaking, but thinks her best friends are the most valuable thing kayaking has given her. She studies Journalism at the University of Montana and wants to continue to train for whitewater races, make short films and enjoy more cups of coffee with friends on river trips.

Grand Canyon - photo Blake Hornblow
Grand Canyon - photo Blake Hornblow
Darby McAdams'S FAVORITE GEAR

PHOTO GALLERY