Volunteer Coaching Staff
Kayaking and coaching combine two of my life’s callings. As a middle school teacher early in adulthood I found great interest and satisfaction in helping young people develop as good people. Growing up in Russia and playing pickup soccer initiated me to a lifelong love of participatory sports. They included tennis on high school and college teams, followed by swimming, basketball, running, and whitewater kayaking. At first I thought that sprint and surfski paddling would lack the excitement of my previous sports, but I soon discovered that it provides lifelong challenge in working on technique, endurance, and strength. I also discovered the joy of being in nature,the solitude of being in a boat by myself, and the fellowship of a supportive community of boaters. It is hard to describe the joy I feel in being able to pass on my knowledge and enthusiasm to others, while building a club where all members can grow, learn, and challenge themselves.
Susan Starbird discovered kayaking in her late 20s and quickly moved from recreational whitewater to competitive flatwater, downriver, sea kayak, and surfski boating. She was a member of the the US National (kayak) Marathon Team in 1998 and 2001, medaling in her age group in long races in England and South Africa. She started coaching in the early 2000s and eventually helped form River Town Racers. She holds a Level One ICF Coaching Certificate and is a training and strategic planner for the club and its athletes.
In 2018 she was privileged to accompany the US team of 25 teenaged athletes to the Olympic Hopes Regatta in Poland.
Kayaking is the only sport she ever did, and she has loved it irrationally for 40 years. She is married to head coach Misha.
Cath Caddell is the strength and conditioning coach or “dry-land coach” for River Town Racers. Cath’s athletic experience as an elite cyclist, and as a coach for track and field and cycling informs her work with the RTR athletes. She also has an educational background in kinesiology and brain and behavior which she draws on when working with the athletes, both in the gym and on the water. Cath loves working and playing with the abundant and dynamic energy of teens.
-Level 2 Coach-
Tanya Alva is the River Town Racers on-the-water coach for level ones and twos. She’s a Mom, Teacher, Paddler, and Coach, and loves introducing beginners to the sport! Tanya has been paddling for six years with River Town Racers. When coaching newcomers, her focus is on being safe, having fun, and learning new things.
Kelly Collins Geiser
-Level 1 Coach-
-Yolo County Branch Coach-