Henry Hyde: SeasonFive teenage athlete shares his Olympic dreams

A teenage sponsored athlete provides some youth perspective to the outdoors, including why every brand should be reaching out to kids.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show July 31 – Aug. 3. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

When SeasonFive athlete Henry Hyde, 12, gets into his kayak, it’s like going home, he said.

HenryHyde_SeasonFiveAthlete

“It feels like I grew up in water,” Hyde said. “I really like it. I enjoy water. In a strange way, it’s my birthplace and I just love it. It feels like I’m free, and I’m not trapped, and there’s no homework and all that other stuff.”

Hyde, who will turn 13 in a few months, took to kayaking by watching his father and now is winning competitions left and right in his home state of Colorado and across the country.

While perusing booths at the FIBArk Festival and kayaking competition (before he was even 10) in Salida, Colo., he came across Breckenridge, Colo.-based SeasonFive and there began their partnership.

“They saw I was a kid and I was competing in kayaking, and wanted to sponsor me and rep their gear,” Henry said. “I just walked by and got a sponsorship. That was one of my first sponsorships.”

The National Champion kayaker, who has been competing since 2007’s North American Whitewater Junior Olympics, has Olympic dreams and is doing his parents and his sponsors proud.

“There are times I do worry,” said Henry’s dad, Michael Hyde. “Mostly when he is pushing his limits on harder and harder runs on rivers and creeks. Anything can go wrong at any time, and Mother Nature is very unforgiving when tested outside your skills. Henry has proved over and over, though, that he can handle things well beyond his size and years.”

Henry represents the outdoor industry’s target demographic, and the wise youngster — also an avid fisherman who eats everything he catches — offers some tips on how to get more kids his age into the wild.

What got you into kayaking? 
My dad just flung me into it. He was kayaking a little bit. I watched him and I just begged him for my first boat, and I couldn’t let kayaking go.

Do your friends your age kayak or compete in anything the way you do? 
I kind of separate my friends. I have my school friends and I have my kayak friends. Usually school friends aren’t the kayaking friends.

What is the best part of competing for you?
It makes my day when I go out and have fun and compete, maybe win a medal, maybe win a prize. I just enjoy it the competitions; they are the way of expressing all my training and hard work.

What are your favorite brands and products in the outdoor industry and why do they attract you? 
I’m a favorite customer of Pyranha [Kayaks]. There’s a bunch of guys who are just out there to kayak and not anything else. They just want to have fun — no drama or anything — and that’s why I chose them. I think they’re a good bunch of guys they’ll stick with me for a while.

How many hours a week are you training? 
Right now an hour — not very much because the water season is dying down. But usually I’m training about three days a week. I don’t get on the water much during the year except the summer because it’s all iced up. I ski and bike and run to try to keep in shape.

What are some of your goals for the future?
Definitely make the Olympic trials. Going to Olympics in 2020. I have to start training more and working harder. I have the goal to progress every year and do better in all the competitions.

What can outdoor manufacturers do to attract your age group?
I had to struggle when I was a kid because there weren’t kayaks out there for kids. It was hard because I got confused. Every company should make kid’s sections. I know it’s not a huge market, but in the future the kids have to take over for the parents so it’s going to have to happen. I’m hoping that all of the companies take into action they should make kids’ stuff and kids’ boats gear, not just men’s and women’s. Jackson Kayaks makes kids boats; they were a good start and I do appreciate what they’re doing. They’re trying to get as many kids as they can in the sport.

How can more kids get involved in kayaking and other outdoor sports?
It is the parents [who can help them], and I can see where they’re really nervous about their kid going upside down and how is he going to get out of that situation. I would just say that parents should relax, go to the pool sessions — there’s a lot anywhere — and get coaching.

--Ana Trujillo

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