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Makenzie Sousley



Event: Canoe Sprint, Canoe

Height: 5’3”

Hometown: Gig Harbor, Wash.
Club: Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team
High School: Gig Harbor High School

2015 U.S. World Championships Team Member


  • 2015 ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships:
    • 6th in C2 Women 500m Final B with Rachel Marcuson
    • 29th overall in C1 Women 200m
  • 2013 Junior World Championships - 4th in Jr. C2 500m with Savannah Jones
  • 2013 Pan American Championships - BRONZE in Jr. C1 200m, SILVER in Jr. C2 200m, SILVER in Jr. C2 500m
  • 2013 Lake Placid International - 5th in Jr. C1 500m

At what age did you start paddling and how did you become involved in the sport?

When I was 7 or 8, my parents bought me a yellow sea kayak for Christmas because we had just moved to a house on the Puget Sound. I enjoyed it so much that when I was 9 my parents signed me up for the development team. That summer was so fun that I continued throughout the winter and wanted to paddle at Nationals at Green Lake, Seattle. However, there was no way I would do remotely well against girls way older than me, so my coach signed me up for the canoe races. Ever since then, I have been paddling my way down the course in a canoe, whether a single or team boat.      

Where and when was your first competition, and how did you do?

My first regatta was in Ridge BC during Bantam Champs which is now called Pacific Cup. This is always the first race that our development team competes at, and it was mine also. I did okay in all my races because there are only so many Atoms that can stay in a boat and still finish the race. The one I do remember clear as day was my first 1000m race. I had no idea what I was doing but when people on your team are cheering as loud as possible for you, it gives you this adrenaline. Anything is possible with that feeling, and that is what made me win that race.

What has inspired you to train and compete at an International level?

All of the older girls that trained and competed would always return home with stories and pictures of the competition and people who they had met, which made me want to also be at that higher level. I heard stories of those Europeans that were so much better than the US, and that inspired me to try and catch up, and even to win at an international regatta.

What is your preference - individual or team boats, and why?

I prefer individual boats because the outcome depends solely on my performance.

What race distance do you prefer, and why?

I enjoy 200m’s the most because you can’t hold back and save for another part of the race but you have to give it your all.

What has been your biggest accomplishment(s) in the sport?
Probably racing at the Junior Worlds Regatta in Brandenburg, Germany in 2011, where our C2 placed 5th

What is the best advice you have been given and who offered it to you?

I guess that the best advice given to me is the things I think about during a race that have been said earlier. So far the three main things are said by my parents. My dad always tells me to keep my arms straight and use my hip! (He is my coach, by the way) And my mom told me once in a race with two girls, “if your not first, your last!” Well, I guess that little advice will always be there.

Playing soccer, volleyball, and hanging out with people, and to relax I love reading books.

What would you like to do after your Canoe/Kayak career is over?

I am going to become a nurse and do missions in South or Central America.

What is your favorite thing about the sport of Canoe/Kayak?  Do you have any special memory that you would like to share?

My favorite part about this sport is that off the water we are a huge family and everyone is friends with each other, but nobody lets it get in the way on the water. 

What is your dream goal?

That Woman’s Canoe would be added to the Olympics and that I could represent the first canoe woman team from the US in the Olympics. 

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