Havens Leadership Award
Havens Leadership Award
The Havens Leadership Award rewards individuals whose practices and behaviors best serve the interests and success of USA paddlesports athletes.
The award is named after the Havens family, specifically Ginny and Kay whose behind-the-scenes support of Bill and Frank’s canoeing endeavors was key to their Olympic achievements.
- Learn more about Bill & Frank Havens (PDF)
During the 20th century, several generations of Havens’ men competed in the Olympic games and won medals for the American team in canoeing. During all of their Olympic careers, the ACA was the official governing body of the Olympics for canoeing and was solely responsible for training and preparing all canoeists competing on behalf of the United States.
The Havens’ story is one of sacrifice, determination, and hard work that inspires people around the world and encourages people to push themselves to their greatest potential.
This award is given to no more than one individual per year. Master craftsman, Fritz Orr has graciously offered to provide a replica of the “Doc Paddle” Frank used to win gold and set the World record in the 1952 Olympic Games.
The following video is about the Havens family and their amazing Olympic story. This video is made available for viewership courtesy of Bud Greenspan and Cappy Productions Inc.
The ACA continues to encourage today’s youth to actively participate in paddlesports by offering a variety of opportunities for them to get involved in paddlesports.
- Please consider supporting the continuation of paddlesports competitive leadership by donating here.
For more information on ACA opportunities for young athletes, click here.
Havens Olympic Story
2020 - Marsh Jones
Marsh has served as chair of ACA’s Competition Council since its inception in 2017. When ACA became the NGB for paddling, we entered a bright new world of competition, but also a world of compliance and regulation that differs from other areas in which ACA operates. His work helped create the strongest competition teams we’ve seen in years, while also helping build relationships between competition and ACA’s other wings. Marsh, thank you for all your amazing work!
2019 - Aaron Huston
The 2019 Recipient of the Havens Leadership Award is National Sprint Team Coach, Aaron Huston! Aaron is the US National Sprint Team Coach, as well as the high performance coach for the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team based in Washington. He has served the ACA in many major ways; most recently by bringing a group of 35 young sprint paddlers to the Olympic Hopes Regatta in Bratislava, Slovakia: a high quality international competition experience which helps those athletes 17 and younger with Olympic dreams to set stepping stones to Jr. World Championships and beyond. He’s also played a big role in supporting ACA Sprint Athletes who have gained great success this year– such as 2019 Canoe Sprint World Champion, Nevin Harrison.
2018 - Chris Barlow
Chris Barlow is a U.S. Olympian competing in Sprint Kayak in 1992 in the 1000m K4. He continues to race today in surf ski races and Sprint National Championships. However his true passion is coaching athletes. He has been the Head Coach and Founder of the San Diego Canoe Kayak Team since its inception in 1996, but also has national and international coaching experience as the men’s coach at the 2009 and 2011 Junior World Championships in Moscow and Brandenburg. Chris was named Head Coach of the USA Junior National Team for the 2010 Pan American Championships in Mexico City. Chris has been a Director with the Sprint Coaches Association since its formation in 2007. Chris is a certified “Sprint High Performance Two Coach” with the International Canoe Federation (ICF). In addition, Chris is the ACA’s Sprint High Performance Manager.
2015 - Adam Van Grack
Adam was awarded the Havens Award for his work with athletes and leadership in the sport of canoe slalom. Adam has been involved in the Olympic sport of canoe slalom as an athlete, advocate, and administrator since the early 1990’s and served as President of the Potomac Whitewater Racing Center (U.S. Olympic Center of Excellence) and on its Board of Directors from 2004 through 2016. He has spent many years working with nonprofit organizations that focus on outdoor recreation, sports safety, and environmental conservation.
2014 - Debby Page and Jan Whitaker
Debby and Jan share the Havens Award recognition for their joint efforts in building the U.S. Paracanoe program from the ground up. Both have served voluntary roles as coaches, advocates and team leaders. Together, they helped the U.S. win four medals at the 2013 Paracanoe World Championships, quadrupling its medal haul from the year before. Off the water, they helped lobby successfully for Paracanoe’s inclusion in the 2016 Paralympic Games. Whitaker initiated the Paralympic pitch in 1998. Over the years, Page served as a team coach, coordinator, representative, and cook, while also serving as a race official. Page competed internationally in the 1960’s, including being named to the 1966 U.S. World Championship Team. She also reached the rank of the colonel in the U.S. Air Force.
“Quite simply, without the efforts of these two women there would be no sport of Paracanoe/kayak in the Paralympic Games and there would be no USA Paracanoe/kayak team,” said Paracanoe athlete Bob Balk. “Their tireless dedication and passion to helping those in most need enjoy the water and paddling is nothing short of miraculous. I have had the sincere pleasure of being on the receiving end of this help and also watching them in action helping many, many others. The athletes they have served have a deep and sincere appreciation for all that they have done for them. I believe it is time for Debby and Jan to be recognized for their leadership and commitment to the sport of canoe/kayak as the true pioneers and legends of Paracanoe/kayak.”
“I have known all the Havens since I was a teenager, and they were a big part of pursuing an Olympic dream,” Page said. “If you had ever heard Pappy Havens’ voice, you would never forget it. I paddled many, many miles high kneeling in a rec canoe with Frank Havens as we trained for distance races. … I was at the 1989 World Masters Games with Bill, Jr. and Frank. I know all of their children as well. I don’t need any other USA Canoe/Kayak award because I am so proud to have the one with the Havens name attached. Thank you for the honor.”
2014 - Stephan Gale
Kayak Polo Head Coach Stephen Gale, is a recipient of the second Havens Leadership Award. Stephen is recognized for his role as Head Coach of the U.S. Women’s Kayak Polo team that qualified for and competed in the 2013 World Games in Cali, Colombia, July 25 – Aug. 4. The U.S. women’s team had never before qualified for a World Games. A native of Canmore, Alberta, Gale helped the Team USA qualify for the World Games and recorded its best finish at a World Championships. The U.S. defeated Canada at the 2012 Polo World Championships to becoming the highest-ranking team from the Americas. In Colombia, the team would finish 0-6 against the best teams in the world. “Steve has dedicated so much for growing U.S. Kayak Polo, improving its performance and respect worldwide. Coaching the U.S. women’s team for the past several years, he set a high standard for training and strong team dynamics,” said team member Katherine Homann. “His commitment even in the face of personal sacrifice … truly shows what it is to believe in a dream. He is a leader who continues to inspire us, and who has earned not only respect for a team, but respect for the USA and its continued success in Kayak Polo.”
2013 - Karla Wescott
Karla Westcott of the Wausau Canoe/Kayak Corp. and Jim Ross of the Washington Canoe Club are the inaugural recipients of the Havens Leadership Award. In October 2014, Westcott was the liaison to the 2014 ICF Slalom World Championships in Deep Creek, Maryland. In July 2012, she served as competition manager for the 2012 ICF Junior/Under-23 Slalom World Championships in Wausau, Wis. She was also the chair of the USA Canoe/Kayak Slalom Governance Committee and was a slalom judge at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
2013 - Jim Ross
Jim competed at the international level for many years, representing clubs in Yonkers, N.Y. and Washington, D.C. He is currently on the Board of Directors for the Washington Canoe Club, where he has organized training camps, built docks, and worked to preserve the club’s historic building. Through his work with the Washington Canoe Club, currently the oldest in the country, he has served as an unofficial historian and link to the Havens and other Olympic paddlers on the East Coast. His sons, Ian and Gavin are elite U.S. Senior and Junior level athletes, respectively.