Tyler Bashor has no problem admitting he was deathly afraid of the water.
Just getting past the surf break on a stand-up paddleboard was no easy feat, with a coach having to coax him along the jetty in the calm water at Doheny State Beach during hi
s first few weeks after joining The Paddle Academy.
His mom, Andrea, thought “there wasn’t an athletic bone in his body,” she admits.
“That we knew of.”
Back then, three years ago, Bashor couldn’t have cared less about the outdoors, preferring to be glued to the television zoned out on video games.
The now-15-year-old Bashor stretching with friends on the grass at Doheny State Beach on a recent day is nothing like his former, scared, 12-year-old self who joined The Paddle Academy after watching his older brother, Trevor, go through the program.
Now, Bashor is a fierce competitor on the water and considered one of the best in the state at SUP competitions for his age division.
The Paddle Academy was started by Mike Eisert, a 53-year-old who earned his reputation as a college rower in the mid-90s, a national team kayaker who also competed in surf-ski races through the years.
Basically, if the sport had a paddle, Eisert wanted to compete in it.
When stand-up paddling first took off about a decade ago, Eisert jumped aboard. Four years ago, he decided to start a pilot program to see if there was enough interest to get a group of kids together year-round who wanted to sharpen their SUP skills.
“My whole goal was to mentor kids,” he said. “To find kids…