Sylvania seniors enjoy annual canoe trip down Elk River

SYLVANIA — Sylvania seniors broke away from summer workouts and spent time on the water this weekend.

Rams football coach Matt Putnam led seven incoming seniors on a paddle down a stretch of the Elk River in Tennessee, as part of an annual senior canoe trip.

Putnam has led four straight expeditions with incoming senior athletes at Sylvania. The coach started taking his senior players on canoe trips during his previous coaching stop at Hazel Green and continued the tradition when he arrived at Sylvania.

“A lot of times these kids have never been in a canoe or kayak, never been on the river,” Putnam said. “It’s a first-time experience for some. 

“I believe if teammates love each other, they’ll play hard for each other. We just try to make their senior year as memorable as we can. It’s so fleeting. We just want to give them something to remember.”

The annual canoe trip is open to all incoming Sylvania student-athletes. The excursion took place in Kelso, Tenn., at Elk River Canoe Rental, LLC.

“It’s just a really good stretch of river,” Putnam said. “There are some trees you can jump out of. The water’s nice and cold. There are a couple of rope swings on the river. It’s a two-hour float but I think it took us six hours Saturday, just because we played so much.”

Putnam and seven of 11 Sylvania seniors made the trip and enjoyed a day on the water.

“We just floated and swam and got really sore — I did anyway,” Putnam said with a laugh.

Senior Evan Haney considered the trip a good opportunity for the seniors to bond with Putnam away from the usual football training environment.

“...We bond with coach Putnam and see a side of him we usually don’t see and I think it’s nice for him to plan something for the seniors,” Haney said. “It means he cares about us and the team outside of football.”

Said senior Gareth Anderson: “It makes teammates stronger with each other, wanting to hang out and help each other more. We stayed out there a long time, swimming and trying to find trees to jump off in the water.”

Voluntary workouts will continue this week for Sylvania athletes, before a mandatory break from all athletic activities in observance of Independence Day.

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