UK. ENGLAND. Congratulations to Richard Cooke who has just completed his ASI SUP Instructor qualification. He gives us some insights on his journey to joining ASI and getting qualified.
Hi Richard! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I'm 46, married to my wife Maxine for 21 years and Dad to my two lads Travis & Elliot. Day job-wise I'm a software systems manager for a global medical device company and for downtime (when I get some) I enjoy cycling, drinking and Stand Up Paddle.
My journey towards joining ASI and becoming a SUP Instructor started about 15 years ago, it was one of the first holidays abroad we had made with my 2 lads, they were 4 and 2 at the time and we were on the Vendee coast in France. Now I grew up on family holidays where there was no beach or sand involved, so I was reluctant to mix the joys of Hawaiian tropic sun oil with sand, but I was told to man up and my wife dragged me there. It was dad's job to entertain the kids, luckily someone in the campsite was leaving and they left us a Disney Little Mermaid bodyboard and that was the start.
I have great memories of riding a wave side by side with the kids, so the water became integral to our holidays
From then on it was bodyboards, wetsuits (they were a game-changer as we didn't come out of the water blue anymore), we also ended up with a few surfboards. The one thing I didn't appreciate back then was that as the kids got bigger so did the toys.
Now I was never a very good surfer and one holiday sat on the beach, I saw a bloke and his young daughter jump on a SUP and paddle out and that was it, I hired a SUP board the next day, failed miserably, but that didn't deter me, especially as my wife got on it the first time and paddled away,
Since then, I've got better and the toys have got bigger still, I started to explore different waters (I’m sure I'm not the only one that goes, I could paddle that when they go past a body of water) that exploring led to us finding our local SUP club (Mid Cheshire SUP) and with their input and support over the last 4 years, I've paddled all over the UK and parts of France, the list is ever growing.
Why did you decide to become an ASI SUP instructor?
The move from paddler to an instructor was fairly simple, the club I'm in has always had a great focus on water safety and helping paddlers develop, plus I tend to chat when paddling, so I'm normally with the members that are developing and inevitably I'm last on the water, as I like to ensure everyone's safe and dry (well safe anyhow!). So, it was logical that I developed so I can support the other members, plus we have an expanding list of members and having additional instructors, takes the pressure off the other guys and allows us to offer more paddling events and opportunities, plus it makes me feel a little bit cooler
What did you learn most from your ASI SUP Instructor training?
I've learned loads, first that there is a wealth of resource online and there is lots of information to be learned from the ASI instructors I know, they come with wealth of experience. For me, it has also opened up new paddling options and future goals. It's also given me more confidence. On a personal note, my son is working at a local wakeboarding centre so it has given us some common ground an I'm hoping he will also do an ASI qualification as it will open up his opportunities.
What are your plans for the future as an ASI SUP Instructor?
Let's be honest 2020 hasn't been kind, so I will be glad to get it out of the way, aside from that I'd love to develop my teaching further, perhaps do another level, I've started to SUP Surf, not great at it but I'm working on it (photos with the beach behind was after i caught my first waves), I have a greater appreciation of SUP and its benefits to physical and mental health, so mostly I just want to see more people give it a go and to keep exploring.
ASI is a professional membership organisation and international governing body for instructors, coaches and schools in the outdoor recreation industry for surfing, stand up paddle and bodyboarding.
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