We are starting a celebration here at Standup Journal online to celebrate the peeps who make the sport happen. Certainly, we have our upper echelon pros (and we LOVE them!) and/but we ALSO want to highlight the peeps in the trenches who are working HARD, showing up at EVENTS, sharing their STOKE right in their own backyard. We love ’em… and we know you will too! Here’s Part I of our National Series: East Coast Rock Stars.
East Coast Rock Stars: Who Are They?
Meet Stephanie Shideler from NY
Gritty, hard working, seasoned. If you’re from the East Coast, or have visited the East Coast, have run a race over here or just been in touch with the news, you will recognize these names. We love our East Coasters for their grit and paddling stamina of paddling year-round in less than favorable conditions in order to stay in the game. Great spirits all. We start off our series with the humble, yet wickedly talented Stephanie Shideler.
Steph definitely earns her spot among our East Coast Rock Stars for her tenacity – she’s at almost every event from North to South along the Eastern Seaboard and is regularly in the Top 3. In the North East, she’s our #1 gal and we love her. Steph has come back from injury to dominate the fields. She is a racer, a surfer and an animal rescue shelter unto herself. She currently lives on Long Island with her boyfriend, Justin, and they own 7 rescue adopted pups.
Some Rock Star Back Story
1.) Where are you originally from?
I’m from Pebble Beach, California
2.) Tell us about your lifetime water gal experiences. How did you become a stand up paddler?
Ironically, I didn’t start surfing until my 30s, post-business school, when I moved to the east coast. Tragic, I know. I was a water baby growing up, though, and convinced my parents to get me a wetsuit when I was 6 because I wanted to go swim with the seals at Stillwater Cove in Pebble Beach.
It was the NYC SEA Paddle that got me into stand up paddling. My partner in crime, Justin, had done it on a prone board a number of times and he finally convinced me to try to tackle it. I started training and did about 3 miles on a prone board and quickly decided a stand up paddling would be a lot more fun. That was my first race back in 2010 – 26.5 miles on a touring board with an insanely heavy paddle. But, I came back for more in 2011 and 2012 with a race board and a real paddle.
What Makes this Paddler Special (besides a talent on the water!)?
3.) Tell us about your dogs. How many? Names? How did you go about acquiring them?
My dogs! I love this question. We have 7 pups – all rescues and all amazing! It started when I met Justin 10 years ago and he had his locally rescued pup, Dude. We decided Dude needed a friend and took him to various shelters to pick a brother which led to adopting Miles. It went so well with the two of them we thought why not save another life? While on our first surf trip to Ecuador, we made some great new friends, came home with a little piece of land and two new puppies: Lily and Luna. Beautiful Viszla sisters that had ended up in the wrong hands. This is probably more than people want to know about my pack already. Then came Bella, a little black Sharpei given up by a local family, then Puffany and then Bear, both from Ecuador. So there you have it: Dude, Miles, Lily, Luna, Bella, Puff, and Bear.
4.) How do your dogs make you a better/happier human?
They are such an amazing family. It blows my mind how they all really love each other. They have little tiffs here and there, but at the end of the day, they really act like family, which makes me a MUCH happier human. You catch these little moments of tenderness or hilarity throughout the day: Bella giving Bear kisses, Puff getting mad at Miles because he’s sleeping and she wants to play. Every time we add a new one (and we’ve had various fosters come through the house, too), they seem to say “It’s OK, we’ve got this. We’ll teach him the ropes.”
For me, dogs really epitomize all the good qualities in humans and few, if any of the bad. So much love!
What Inspires a Rock Star?
5.) Who are some of the people who inspire you and motivate you, paddlers or otherwise?
I’ve learned so much about tenacity through this sport. Every pro I’ve talked to and worked with has been so incredibly helpful. But, the person I’d say inspires me the most is our East Coast wonder, April Zilg. She has fought so hard and earned her amazing success through blood, sweat, and tears. And she puts it all out there so others can benefit. When I’m having doubts about myself, I think about April and she inspires me. She makes me believe that hard work can get you really far. I just wish I’d known what I’ve learned through paddling earlier in life.
6.) What is your favorite East Coast sup race event of the season?
This is a tough one – we have a lot of great events. The NYC SEA Paddle is iconic and has a lot of personal meaning for me – it’s why I started paddling, after all. I came back after not doing it a few years for the 10th anniversary last year.
If we are talking about all of the East Coast, though, Carolina Cup is by far my favorite. I love the course. I love the place. And, I love seeing so many amazing paddlers get together.
Goals, Tools, Bucket List
7.) What are some of your goals for this year?
Really broaden my skill set. I’m trying to improve my ocean and downwinding skills. I’d like to get to more of the big events, like The Columbia Gorge Challenge. And most importantly, work hard and have fun.
8.) What board are you currently riding (specs and deets, please!)?
I’m on an Infinity Blackfish, 12’6 x 25. Just got it and I love it!! I’m now obsessed with surfing it. It’s so hard to go do my interval workouts when there are little waves rolling through.
9.) Where is your #1 Bucket List place that you’d like to go visit?
I love spending time in Ecuador. I’d like to go back to Corsica at some point. For #1 bucket list place, though, I think I’d like to do some sort of expedition in Patagonia. A combination of hiking and paddling would be amazing.
Where are We Headed?
10.) How would you like to see the stand up paddle industry evolve as we move forward? What would you like to see happen?
I’m really inspired by the competitive side of the sport. To see that flourish, I’d like to see the innovative equipment designers and manufacturers succeed and also see more attention from the mainstream. Like it or not, financial success is important for the sport to persist and grow and to see the athletes get the resources they need to keep doing what they’re doing.
Thanks Steph! Always great to hear how this great lady thinks. Thanks for letting us get to know you a bit more here at Standup Journal online. We salute YOU!