A Warm Welcome to Badfish Team Rider Gabriel Gray
Our family may be growing but we are so proud and honored for each and every one of our team riders. They all bring something unique to Badfish and now we’d like to introduce our newest member of the team Florida native Gabriel Gray.
Gabriel, welcome to the team!!! First, let’s start off with a little introduction. Could you briefly tell us a little bit about yourself…?
GG: Well I was raised on a cattle farm in North Florida and loved being out in nature as a kid. Explorin the woods and waters around me is where I fell in love with Mother Nature and also learned to respect it. I grew up rodeoin and after a professional career I retired and became a firefighter/emt and life guard. I got lucky and got into the sport of sup around 2006 which led to where I am today. I love the SUP community and what the sport has to offer.
Florida tends to get a bad rap. But I know the state has a lot to offer and is completely underrated as a stand up paddle destination. What’s your favorite part about living where you do in Florida and you’re favorite place to paddle and why?
GG: Florida is an amazing place to adventure and paddle. It’s were I began expedition paddling to begin with. There is endless possibilities for stand up paddling from key west to Pensacola. I live in the panhandle and I love it up here because the population isn’t as thick as down south. As for my favorite place to paddle that’s a tough one. We have amazing springs and hidden creeks and cypress graveyards, but my favorite place so far would have to be deep in the 10 thousand islands. It’s still wild there and when you’re out there you can feel it.
You started an environmental project called SOAR. Tell us a little bit about that and how paddle boarding plays a role in bringing awareness to pressing environmental issues.
GG: I noticed a lot of attention being given to our oceans but not a lot towards our inland waters. Those inland rivers and streams are like our veins and arteries if we clog them with trash and pollution we will eventually kill the body. The only way I could think of helping with this was to paddle them and create an adventure platform that would catch viewers attention especially our youth. Stand up paddling and social media have given me that opportunity to create epic adventures but also to sprinkle in conservation and issues along the way.
You’ve gone on some pretty incredible trips for your SOAR projects, do you have a favorite or one that really had an impact on you?
GG: Thank you, I have definitely been lucky enough to see some wild and beautiful places. It’s honestly hard to choose only one, I’ve learned things about myself on every trip I’ve been on. Each one has ingrained a unique impact on my life, inner strength, the importance of team work, survival, perseverance, the importance of reconnection and love are just a few that the wilderness has imprinted on my life.
What is one of the greatest lessons you’ve learned from stand up paddling?
GG: Haha patience!
What inspired you to become a firefighter and EMT?
GG: Well I’ve always loved helping people and that was one of the biggest draws but also the adrenaline rush of running into a burning building helped as well!
Do you have any advice for anyone who is wanting to get started with more self-support SUP trips?
GG: Oh man, there is so much to learn and to be aware of, SUP skills, mapping, camping, survival, nutrition and weather skills are just a few. Start small, find some classes and do your research. I have done a few articles on getting started with SUP camping on my blog that will help a lot.
What made you decide to step away from the rodeo circuit?
GG: Family, i knew eventually I wanted to have little ones and I also wanted to be able to provide a good life for them. Haha I guess that’s when I made my first real grown up decision.
GG: I wanted to be a part of Badfish because of the people within the company and the innovativeness behind it. As you can see from the previous question, family is important to me and Badfish is a family I’m proud to be a part of.