Organization’s History: The Newaygo Nationals Association (NNA) was formed in January of 2011 after a five year history of attracting and hosting various regional activities on the Muskegon River. These events included river clean-ups, clinics, and athletic competitions starting in 2005 with the original “PowerPaddle” race that has since attracted hundreds of paddle sports enthusiasts each year since. In 2009, based on encouragement from competitors that were Members of the United States Canoe Association (USCA) and the Michigan Canoe Racing Association (MCRA), Gabriel Slominski and Martin Ecker made the decision to bid for the USCA’s most prestigious international competitive paddling event, the “USCA Nationals”. The bid was ultimately approved, and the NNA’s team was expanded to include Scott Faulkner, Chairman of the Newaygo Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as Rose Slominski, Robbin Faulkner & Kathy Vaida.
The first large scale Newaygo Nationals Association event was hosted on August 8-14 2011 in that of the USCA National Canoe & Kayak Championships. By all accounts, the Event was a collective accomplishment and unqualified success from sponsors, local residents, curious West Michigan visitors, the media and most importantly, the athletes and participants themselves. Perhaps most significant was the generous participation of over 400 local volunteers, many of which each of the six days of the event. The NNA had the broad support and organization of the Newaygo County Emergency Services, who proved to be a vital partner in an Event of this scale.
The success of the 2011 USCA Nationals has lead to the planning of additional Events and planning ideas for the NNA. The future will bring river protection, international events, and awareness to the Muskegon River Valley and the surrounding watershed.