By Kennedy Meehan
At races up and down the East Coast, a team of young paddleboard racers are representing Wrightsville Beach and demonstrating the growing level of paddle sports talent that is developing in the area.
The Wrightsville Beach Junior Elite Team, known as the WB JETs, is a team of local paddle sports racers ranging in age from 10 to 16 years old who are traveling to compete in races across the region, including recent trips to Florida and Charleston for races.
Jarrod Covington, owner of Wrightsville SUP and head coach of WB JETs, said the team is developing their confidence, fitness and water knowledge through learning surf, paddleboard and canoeing skills from team practices.
“My main goal is for the kids is to have fun and be intelligent and confident on the water and all around the water. I want them to learn to build with each other and break down barriers,” Covington said.
In their second year, the WB Jets have grown up to 14 team members and practice year-round.
During the summer months, the team practices at the Wrightsville Beach SUP practicing paddle sports, while in the winter, practicing yoga and fitness at Cape Fear Sports Enhancement. A typical summer practice involves circuits of paddle-boarding along with fitness activities such as pushups, burpees and sit-ups on the beach.
Kathryn Emmert, a second-year team member, says that she loves building with her team and getting better at paddling.
“I’ve gotten a lot stronger and faster in the past two years and I’ve loved being able to be on the water, paddling and racing with my team,” said Emmert.
“I started two years ago and since then I’ve been training and training and getting faster and faster. The team has made me a lot more confident paddling and in fitness in general,” said Campbell Carter, also a second-year team member.
“Paddle Mom” Erin Carter work at picking out races and organizing meets for the team year round. Later this year, the WB Jets will be competing in New Bern’s Colonial Cup during the last week of August, Charelston’s Chucktown Showdown in September, and Wrightville Beach’s own Surf to Sound in November.