Ryan Grady is an Eagle Scout. He knows how to play violin, and plays the keyboard for the worship band at Chapel Hill. He was one of the state’s best swimmers at Gig Harbor High School during his three years on the team.
And he’s one of country’s best canoeists.
That’s a pretty busy life.
“I’ve done a lot of different activities in my life,” Grady said. “Scouts and paddling are the ones I’ve grown a lot with.”
Most athletes on the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Race Team opt for kayaking. But Grady wanted to be a little different.
“I felt like it was a challenge, I wanted to try something different than everyone else,” Grady said. “I figured it’d be worth a shot to canoe. I ended up really liking it. It was a really rewarding experience.”
For GHCKRT coach Alan Anderson, Grady has been a role model for some time now.
“He’s a great teammate and leader on the team,” Anderson said. “A lot of younger kids look up to him because of his work ethic. He’s the perfect teammate. He leads all of our exercises. As far as an athlete goes, he’s certainly among the best that’s ever gone through the Gig Harbor program.”
And he could wind up being one of the best canoeists in the world. That determination will come later this month in Romania, where Grady will be competing in the C1 200 and 1,000. Grady was named the captain for Team USA during last year’s Olympic Hopes Regatta in Hungary.
“He’s pretty humble about it,” Anderson said. “There’s not out-showing of pride or anything like that. He’s about as a balanced as you can get, being an elite athlete. It requires a lot of focus and devotion. Somehow, he was able to balance his life and do all these other things.”
Grady said serving as the team’s captain was a big honor.
“It was a good experience,” Grady said. “I learned some things about managing people, and used some of the experience I learned in Boy Scouts. I used that to lead the team a bit. But really, we were there to race. A lot of it was individual focus. But it was fun to be with the group.”
Anderson credits coach Aaron Huston with Grady’s continued development.
“Aaron took over (Grady’s) training this year — he’s his main coach,” Anderson said. “So he should get all of the credit here.”
Grady is headed to Whitworth University in Spokane this fall, where he will resume his swimming career for the Pirates. Whitworth competes in Division III in the Northwest Conference, along with Pacific Lutheran University, the University of Puget Sound and others.
“I’m very excited,” Grady said. “I really just felt called there. With academics, I felt like I would be challenged and given a very broad education. I’m going to be studying engineering and try to double major also in theology. I just felt like that was the best place academically, socially and spiritually to grow. And swimming there — that was a cool opportunity I was given. I’m excited about that.”
Until then, Grady is focused on preparing for the Junior Worlds competition later this month in Romania, where he hopes to have a strong showing.
“I’m going to give it my best shot,” he said. “I’m hoping to do the best I can and build on last year. It could go either way. I’m excited to give it my best shot.”