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Our Coaches

River Town Racers is able to offer up to eight weekly workouts thanks to the dedication of our six coaches, with a combined kayak and competition experience of more than 100 years. We are pleased to announce that Zachary, a team member for more than 6 years, became our first paid coach in 2024.

Coach Mish

Mish Riszkiewicz

Head Coach

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

Susan Starbird

Administrative Coach

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

Strength Coach

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.

Coach Tanya

Tanya Boone

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.

Zachary Alva

Zachary Alva

Level 1 Coach

Zachary began paddling flatwater sprint with River Town Racers in 2015, and quickly discovered his athletic passion. Through the support of the team and the greater paddling community, he discovered ways to push himself both on and off the water, in training and in life, that he did not previously realize he is capable of. Over the years he has enjoyed representing Petaluma at national regattas, consistently making finals, even in years he was a full-time college student. Since graduating, Zachary represented the U.S. at World Championships in 2019 and 2023, and is trying out for 2024. He said, “I am excited to join the coaching team at RTR in order to pass on my love for and knowledge of this sport to the next generation of paddlers, and to help them develop skills on the water that can be applied to everyday scenarios in life.”

Michael McCoy

Yolo County Branch Coach

Mike McCoy has been an avid kayaker for 45 years. He has successfully raced in Masters Sprint Kayaking since 2008. Mike is an American Canoe Association Certified Level I Coach, and has coached at RTR since 2018